ASU's Tempe campus is located in downtown Tempe Arizona about eight miles (13 km) east of downtown Phoenix. The campus is considered urban, and is approximately 642 acres (2.6 km) in size. The campus is arranged around broad pedestrian malls and is completely encompassed by an arboretum. The Tempe campus is also the largest of ASU's campuses, with 58,371 students enrolled in its programs.

The Tempe campus is ASU's original campus, and Old Main, the first building constructed, still stands today. There are many notable landmarks on campus, including Grady Gammage Memorial Auditorium designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Palm Walk, which is lined by 111 palm trees, Charles Trumbull Hayden Library, the University Club Building, and University Bridge. In addition, the campus has an extensive public art collection, considered one of the ten best among university public art collections in America according to Public Art Review.   

Against the northwest edge of campus is the Mill Avenue district (part of downtown Tempe which has a college atmosphere that attracts many students to its restaurants and bars. The Tempe campus is also home to all of the university's athletic facilities.

ASU's undergraduate program is ranked 143rd of 262 "national universities" by the 2011 US News and World Report ranking of US colleges and universities; and, for the third year in a row, ASU was ranked as one of the top five "Up and Coming" universities in the US, for substantial improvements to academics and facilities In addition, ASU is ranked 81st in the world by the Academic Rankings of World Universities and was named as one of "America's Best College Buys" by Forbes  magazine.

ASU describes itself as "one university in many places", meaning that it is not a system with separate campuses, and not one main campus with branch campuses,  ASU's colleges, schools, and departments are spread across four campuses, with each campus hosting a unique set of colleges and schools, and offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition to the physical campuses, ASU includes a fifth "virtual campus" for online and extended education.

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