Discover the Most Sprawling College Campus in Florida

Written by Samantha Stanich
Updated: August 1, 2023
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College students walk across campus between classes

Scientists invented Gatorade at the University of Florida, Medicine in 1965.

©Sharkshock/Shutterstock.com

The sunny state of Florida offers plenty of opportunities for higher education. The Sunshine State boasts state, private, public, and community colleges for an education in a variety of fields. Scattered across Miami, Tampa Bay, Orlando, and Daytona are many respected universities and colleges to choose from. Florida is home to 125 four-year colleges and universities, providing you with plenty of options, according to the Florida Department of Education (FLDOE). Out of all these schools, some have pretty sizeable college campuses, but what is the biggest campus in Florida?

What University Has the Largest College Campus in Florida?

University of Florida Century Tower

The Century Tower is a tall bell tower containing a carillon in the center of the University of Florida.

©Bowen Deng/Shutterstock.com

The largest college campus in Florida is the University of Florida in Gainesville at 2,000 total acres.  To put that in perspective, that’s four times larger than Disneyland in Anaheim, California, which is around 500 acres. It is the fourth-largest public university campus by enrollment in the United States as of the 2021–2022 academic year. The university is home to the Florida Gators sports teams, a powerhouse in NCAA sports.

The University of Florida enrolls over 60,000 students annually. The university is the third-largest Florida university by student population and the fifth-largest single-campus university in the United States. It is home to 16 colleges and more than 180 research centers and institutes, and over 900 buildings sit on its sprawling campus of 2,000 acres.

Comparisons of Sizes of Universities in Florida

UniversityLocationAcreage
University of FloridaGainesville2,000
University of West FloridaPensacola1,600
University South FloridaTampa1,500
University of Central FloridaOrange County1,415
University of North FloridaJacksonville1,381
Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton850

Comparisons of Sizes of the Largest Universities in the United States

College or UniversityLocationAcreage
University of FloridaGainesville2,000
Berry-CollegeRome, GA27,000-plus
SUNY College of Environmental Science and ForestrySyracuse, NY25,000
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Dearborn, and FlintAnn Arbor, Dearborn, & Flint, MI20,965
United States Air Force AcademyColorado Springs, CO18,455
United States Military AcademyWest Point, NY16,080
Purdue University-Main CampusWest Lafayette, IN15,325
Paul Smiths College of Arts and SciencesPaul Smiths, NY14,200
Berklee College of MusicBoston, MA14,000
The University of the SouthSewanee, TN13,000
Duke UniversityDurham, NC8,600

About Florida’s Higher Education System

Aside from being the biggest campus in Florida, the University of Florida is also a senior member of the State University System of Florida. Its origins trace back to 1853. The university operated continuously on its Gainesville campus since September 1906. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). This is an education accreditor recognized by the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. SACS accredits educational institutions in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. It also accredits educational institutions for U.S. students in Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America

Students who are residents of Florida pay significantly lower tuition at state colleges and universities. The average annual in-state tuition for a public university in Florida is $6,071 for full-time students. Whereas out-ofstate students pay $16,535. Compare these numbers to another state with many colleges and universities like Ohio. The average undergraduate tuition is $13,739 for in-state students and $49,155 for out-of-state students.

What Is the State University System of Florida?

Florida State University historic buildings in Tallahassee, Florida

U.S. News and World Report named Florida No. 1 for higher education for the last seven years.  

©Henryk Sadura/Shutterstock.com

The State University System of Florida (SUSF or SUS) is a system of 12 public universities in Florida. All of these universities are maintained by the government of Florida. Since the University of Florida is a state school, the university participates in the Florida Public College and University System. So, not only can students pay in-state tuition if they are Florida residents; but they can also receive the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship for monetary help if they want to attend the biggest campus in Florida.

Bright Future scholarships are merit-based scholarships. This means there are requirements such as a GPA of at least 3.5, an SAT score of at least 1290 (or equivalent on the ACT), and at least 100 hours of verifiable community service.

The University of Florida’s Scholarship Requirements

At the University of Florida, the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship comes in two levels: the Florida Academic Scholars Award and Florida Medallion Scholars Award. There are different academic criteria for eligibility for each level. And each provides a different award amount and/or number of semester hours. The Florida Academic Scholar with the highest academic ranking in each county also receives the Academic Top Scholars Award.

  • Florida Academic Scholars: The student receives an award amount equal to 100% of tuition and applicable fees.
  • Florida Medallion Scholars: The student receives 75% of tuition and applicable fees.

To qualify for any of the Bright Futures scholarships, students must be a “B” student or better. According to the scholarship’s statistics, just 22% of Florida high school students are eligible. This may seem small, but it is one of the best out of any state. It doesn’t cover anything, but any help toward a better education is better than nothing! And it is one step closer to being debt-free for education.

12 Public Universities in the State University System of Florida

InstitutionLocation
Florida State UniversityTallahassee
University of FloridaGainesville
Florida A&M UniversityTallahassee
University of South FloridaTampa
Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca Raton
University of West FloridaPensacola
University of Central FloridaOrlando
Florida International UniversityMiami
New College of FloridaSarasota
University of North FloridaJacksonville
Florida Gulf Coast UniversityFort Myers
Florida Polytechnic UniversityLakeland

Wildlife

Florida Everglades Alligator wild gator

Alligators live in the southeastern part of the United States.

©Ernie Hounshell/Shutterstock.com

There are over one million alligators in Florida. The largest population of alligators is found in Gainesville. However, this doesn’t mean they are walking around campus with students at the University of Florida. If students do want to see an alligator, they can visit Lake Alice. It is a small lake on campus and one of the few areas in incorporated Gainesville where one may view live alligators. The lake also harbors a population of Florida softshell turtles.

In March 2023 a student saw an alligator crossing a crosswalk on campus! The gator walked through campus to a nearby canal. The university’s sports team is rightly named the Gators, with their mascot being Albert and Alberta Gator.

The campus is also home to various trees, flowers, and other fauna that is spread across the campus. Wildlife conversations even marked approximately 1,200 individual trees in the central areas of campus with numbered tags. They range in various species of pine, oak, palm, cherry, and even sycamore trees, just to name a few!

Where Is the University of Florida Located On a Map?

The University of Florida’s sprawling campus sits in Gainesville in Northern Florida. Gainesville is the largest city in North Central Florida, with a population of 141,085 in 2020. The university is a top-five public land-grant research university. The state legislature or Congress designates a land-grant college or university. The university receives the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862, 1890, and 1994.

Gainesville is also the largest city in Alachua County. The city boasts biodiversity in Florida’s trademark swamps and wildlife inhabitants. It is also full of Southern history, and of course, houses the oldest university in the state. Gainesville offers significant museums such as the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention, and the Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art which is a 112,800-square-foot facility in the University of Florida campus’s southwest area. The history museum also offers exhibits created by University of Florida scientists’ research projects. And the Cade Museum for Creativity and Invention was founded in 2004 by the inventor of Gatorade, which was invented on the university’s campus.

Conclusion: Visit the Biggest Campus in Florida!

If you are a resident of Florida or want to live in the Sunshine State, a trip to Gainesville to explore the University of Florida is a must! You can check out the biggest campus in Florida and learn about what the prestigious school has to offer. Additionally, the UF Gators always put on a show no matter the sport! While visiting this legacy school, you will be surrounded by the beautiful region of Southern Florida. You will also be in the charming town of Gainesville, where plenty of amazing activities await. Visit the biggest campus in Florida today!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Irina Silayeva/Shutterstock.com


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