The US is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world, attracting thousands of international and domestic students every year. But putting high-quality teaching and cutting edge research aside, US universities are also among some of the most beautiful. Selected by the Times Higher Education student team, each of the universities featured on this list displays examples of eye-catching architecture including rolling green spaces, flowing water features and impressive natural backdrops which attract students and tourists alike.
1. Berry College, Georgia
Berry College is a private liberal arts college in Georgia and is easily one of the most photogenic institutions in the US. The combination of Gothic-style buildings and an impressive 27,000 acres of fields, forests, clear lakes and fountains makes it a sure-fire presence in this list of most attractive US universities. It attracts many hikers and cyclists every year and has even been used as a shooting location for films such as Remember the Titans and Sweet Home Alabama.
2. University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado
Nestled at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, the beauty of the University of Colorado is natural rather than man-made. The incredible views coupled with miles and miles of bike rides, national parks and forests attract many visitors looking to spend time in nature. That’s not to say that the buildings don’t hold their own against the mountainous backdrop, with their distinctive red-tiled roofs and sandstone walls, a design pioneered by architect Charles Klauder.
3. Bryn Mawr College, Pennsylvania
Widely regarded as one of the most scenic campuses in the US, Bryn Mawr is a private liberal arts college, and historically a women-only college. Bryn Mawr College was one of the first universities to utilise a Gothic architectural style that has since been replicated in many other universities across the country, such as Princeton. The bucolic 135-acre campus is also home to a duck pond and rows of trees that become adorned with blossom in the spring.
4. Stanford University, California
Stanford University is regularly cited as one of the most prestigious universities in the world, but is just as well known for its stunning campus. The university’s “architectural crown jewel”, the Stanford Memorial Church, was built during the American Renaissance and is decorated with colourful mosaics. The use of colour and stained glass was inspired by the churches of Venice, particularly St Mark’s Basilica. Surrounding the buildings are acres and acres of gardens, attractive flowerbeds and tree-lined avenues.
5. University of Hawai’i at Mānoa, Hawai'i
The flagship campus of the University of Hawai'i system, located in Mānoa, is often found with a rainbow overhead because of the region’s heavy rainfall. Closer to the ground, the university is just as scenic, surrounded by a lush valley of palm trees and flowers and is in close proximity to the beach and the university’s own coral reef, which is used for marine research.
6. Cornell University, New York
A whole new list of the most beautiful university chapels could be created, and Cornell University’s Sage Chapel (pictured below) would be a frontrunner, with its ornately decorated ceiling, exquisite chandeliers and stained glass windows. However, the beauty of this Ivy League institution is found across the campus in design gems such as the AD White Reading Room and the iconic McGraw Tower.
7. University of Notre Dame, Indiana
The Golden Dome (pictured below) atop of the main administration building has become one of the most recognisable symbols of the University of Notre Dame. Rebuilt after a fire, the dome was topped with a 19-foot gilded statue of the Virgin Mary, to reflect the university’s Catholic identity. Other architectural landmarks include the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, which has the largest collection of 19th-century French stained glass in the world.
8. Princeton University, New Jersey
Architecture at Princeton University is a fusion of styles, with the oldest buildings constructed in a collegiate Gothic style, which has come to be something of a trademark of the institution. More recently, 20th century architects such as Frank Gehry and Rafael Viñoly have put their stamp on the newer university buildings, which are constructed in a more modernist style. Works of 20th-century art are scattered throughout the grounds.
9. Furman University, South Carolina
The iconic image of the Bell Tower next to the lake is just one snapshot of the campus that would look at home on a postcard. Packed full of Georgian-style buildings, a Japanese garden and acres of greenery, Furman University offers a variety of photo opportunities at every turn.
10. University of Virginia, Virginia
The University of Virginia is regarded as “the proudest achievement of American architecture in the past 200 years” by the American Institute of Architects – and for good reason. The buildings were conceptualised by founding father Thomas Jefferson. The Jeffersonian style of architecture is characterised by the use of octagonal shapes, red-brick construction and white columns. One of the best examples of this style is the Rotunda at the University of Virginia.
Read more: Best universities in the United States