The Largest College Campus in Indiana Is a Ridiculous 2,539 Acres

Written by Rob Amend
Updated: August 17, 2023
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The United States boasts a large number of higher educational institutions. Many states deeded land to these institutions for research purposes, leading to large campuses. What’s the largest college campus in Indiana, what wildlife can you find in and around the campus, and how does it compare to other campuses in the state in size? Read on to learn this and more.

The Largest Campus in Indiana

The largest college campus in Indiana is Purdue University, at 2,539 acres. If you add the acreage of its other campuses and land for research purposes, it tops out at an incredible 18,676 acres!

Purdue University archway entrance,IN

Purdue University has the largest college campus in Indiana.


How Did Purdue Come to Have So Much Land?

Many U.S. universities owe their existence to the Morrill Land Grant Acts. These federal acts allowed states to create colleges using funds from the sale of federal lands (often taken from indigenous peoples.) In 1865, Indiana’s general assembly voted to take advantage of these acts. They began to accept bids from communities and citizens for establishing a college focusing on engineering and agriculture. Tippecanoe County created a winning bid with the help of 100 acres from residents and a large donation from John Purdue, a local philanthropist and business leader.

By 1921, Purdue had obtained about 2,000 acres for farming and research. The Lafayette campus was already nearly 2,500 acres. An expansion and building program between World War I and II significantly increased Purdue’s land holdings. Private donations over the years added to these holdings. A 300-acre donation was made as recently as 2018.

Where is Purdue University Located?

Purdue University is located in West Lafayette, Indiana, about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis. It sits on the west bank of the Wabash River, which winds from western Ohio, cuts across the state, and wanders to the Ohio River west of Evansville.

Comparison to Other Large Indiana Campuses

Purdue University2,539 acres
Indiana University Bloomington1,937 acres
University of Notre Dame1,261 acres
Ball State University1,140 acres
Indiana State University435 acres
The Golden Dome atop the MaIn Building at the University of Notre Dame. One of the larger campuses in Indiana.

Notre Dame has one of the larger campuses in Indiana.


Wildlife and Flora You May Encounter on Purdue’s Campus

Purdue’s main campus is in West Lafayette, IN, which is an urban area. The wooded areas of the campus still attract squirrels, rabbits, white-tailed deer, chipmunks, foxes, raccoons, and opossums. Birds in the region include cardinals, Canada geese, blue jays, house wrens, American robins, goldfinches, red-winged blackbirds, and common grackles. A student may also see an occasional turtle or frog. Bats make their way around the campus at dusk.

Throughout and around the campus, you may see several native plants, including purple coneflower, wild ginger, aromatic aster, wild columbine, and trumpet honeysuckle. The campus has an arboretum and a collection of trees, including various maple, buckeye, serviceberry, birch, and pawpaw trees.

The white-tailed deer is one animal you may encounter near Purdue University.

White-tailed deer are among the animals you might see in West Lafayette near Purdue University.

©Gary Gello/


The Morrill Land Grant Acts allowed the U.S. to jumpstart many colleges and universities. Due to the focus of these programs on agriculture and engineering, it was possible to continue to add land donations over the years, expanding the useful area of these institutions. Indiana’s Purdue University has accumulated these donations over the years to become the state’s largest college.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Stephen B. Goodwin/

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About the Author

Rob Amend is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily covering meteorology, geology, geography, and animal oddities. He attained a Master's Degree in Library Science in 2000 and served as reference librarian in an urban public library for 22 years. Rob lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, and enjoys spending time with his family, hiking, photography, woodworking, listening to classic rock, and watching classic films—his favorite animal is a six-foot-tall rabbit named Harvey.

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