Ranking the “best college dorms” may not make a lot of sense for people of a certain age. For those who went to college a generation ago, residence life probably brings to mind cramped, gray dorm rooms, awkward interactions with over-stressed roommates, and institutionalized meals that tasted even worse than they looked. That was then, but this is now, and now the name of the game is swanky – large rooms, top-notch dining, and all the amenities of home, if home is a 5-star luxury resort. The college with the coolest dorms wins.
How Swanky Can You Get?
It used to be that the only way to get the fancier digs was to go Greek and live in a frat or sorority house, but many official residence halls today put the old Victorian houses of Greek Row to shame. Campus living in the 21st century is likely to make parents jealous, remembering the dank, spartan rooms of their college years. Today’s residence halls, students apartments, and academic villages make it easy for students to optimize their dorm life.
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What’s driving the luxury trend in student housing? There are a few reasons, but first and foremost is pure competition. Colleges and universities are fighting to attract students, and one of the best ways to bring home the most wanted demographics is to be able to advertise the nicest housing in the business. Simply put, the college with the best dorms attracts more students. Along with competition comes consumer demands. College is more expensive than ever, and parents and students understandably expect more for their money. For some, that means 24-7 security and staff; for others, it means a lazy river and game room.
But in many cases, the amenities that the best college dorms offer really make life better for students. Many residence halls today offer live-in counselors for student support and mental health, a value that can’t be ignored in this era of anxiety and stress. The colleges with the best dorms may provide on-site tutoring, or even a living-learning community where students support each other in the same programs. Fitness centers, fresh, healthy food, and privacy all have a real, measurable impact on student performance and well-being. So the best college dorms aren’t just a luxury – they’re an investment in students.
Ranking the Best College Dorms in America
The College Consensus method pulls together expert opinions for established publishers and reputable student reviews, and our ranking of the best college dorms in America puts all of it to use. Today, it doesn’t matter if you’re in a small college or a major university – every institution is doing everything it can to attract and keep students. It’s one of the best times ever to be a college students, and to help students find the route that is right for them, College Consensus takes every voice into consideration.
Obviously, no list like this can be entirely objective. In order to be considered for our list of best college dorms, schools had to qualify for a College Consensus score, which is a combination of the results of reputable publisher ratings and real student reviews from around the web. From this pool of schools our editors selected those we thought had the nicest dorms and ordered them by their College Consensus score. The result is a list of highly regarded schools that also happen to have really great dorms.
Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridge, MA
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of the world’s foremost STEM research universities, known for its discoveries and developments in fields ranging from defence and oceanography to pioneering programs in artificial intelligence and open-source programming. MIT is also famed for its student life, concentrated very tightly on campus – all students are guaranteed housing for their 4 years of undergraduate study. With a highly competitive, highly motivated campus culture built around 150 year old traditions, nerdy interests, and a notorious pranking culture (which originated the modern meaning of “hack”), MIT is the dream school of many thousands of students, and one of the colleges with the best dorms.
One of the most iconic buildings at an iconic university, MIT’s Simmons Hall was designed by renowned architect Steven Holl and opened in 2002. Nicknamed “The Sponge,” Simmons was, in fact, modeled on the humble sea sponge, and won numerous architectural awards for its originality and beauty – and also been named “Eyesore of the Month.” The culture at Simmons is known for its innovativeness and collegiality; Simmons has its own constitution and governmental structure they like to call “lounge” style. The hall can accommodate 340 undergraduates. From time to time, invasive architecture fans need to be escorted out, and occasionally, at a university famed for its pranks, the Simmons pool fills spontaneously with rubber ducks. It’s one of the best college dorms imaginable.
Featured Dorm: Simmons Hall (The Sponge)
Pomona CollegeClaremont, CA
The founding member of the Claremont Colleges consortium – some of the nation’s most prestigious liberal arts colleges, concentrated in Claremont, CA – Pomona College was modeled on the classic New England liberal arts college, bringing that tradition to California. Since 1887, Pomona has not only emphasized academic rigor and educational exploration, but a deep, committed campus culture. Known as the “college in a garden,” Pomona College is famed for its beauty, as well as its approach to student life and housing, including some of the best college dorms in America.
Pomona’s two newest residence halls – Sontag and Dialynas Halls, opened in 2011 – are two of the most up-to-date and well-planned dorms in California. But are LEED-certified Platinum, the highest level of sustainability, with solar water heating, low water fixtures, and smart air conditioning. At 76 and 78 bedrooms, respectively, Sontag and Dialynas are primarily for juniors and seniors. Accommodations are comfortable, and include some interesting perks, from Sontag’s rooftop garden to Dialynas’ pull-down movie screen in the first floor lounge. Dialynas is also home to the Outdoor Education Center and a rooftop classroom, signs of the best college dorms.
Featured Dorms: Sontag and Dialynas Halls
Bowdoin CollegeBrunswick, ME
One of the highest-ranked liberal arts colleges in America, Bowdoin College was founded in 1794 – so long ago, Maine had not yet split from Massachusetts to form its own state. For much of its history, Bowdoin was primarily a liberal arts college for wealthy young men, but the decision to admit women in 1971 began a new era at Bowdoin. Today, Bowdoin has been variously named a “New Ivy” and a “Hidden Ivy,” thanks to a long and illustrious history of academic excellence. Bowdoin is also well known for its student life, from the popular Outing Club which organizes adventure tours throughout Maine’s rivers, forests, and mountains, to one of the highest-ranked dining services in higher education.
In 1997, Bowdoin made the unusual decision to shut down its Greek organizations (which had contributed to a notorious drinking culture), converting the former fraternity houses into dormitories known as the “College Houses.” These quickly became the most sought-after housing in the college, and some of the best college dorms in America, nicknamed the “living rooms of Bowdoin” due to the strong social aspect of life in the houses. The residents of the College Houses, such as Quinby House (the former Kappa Psi Upsilon house), are expected to plan social and cultural activities for the college, such as film viewings, discussions, and arts events. As a former frat house, Quinby features fireplaces, chandeliers, and comfort for 24 students, and is known in particular for its eclectic, inclusive atmosphere.
Featured Dorm: Quinby House
University of ChicagoChicago, IL
The University of Chicago is famously one of the most academically demanding and challenging institutions in the world – in fact, with the heavy workload and rigorous grading, Chicago has often been cited as more difficult than the Ivy League. Since its founding in 1890, the University of Chicago has cultivated a reputation not only for high academic standards, but for its stimulating student life and culture. Hundreds of on-campus clubs, a vibrant Greek Life (as many as 10% of students are fraternity or sorority members), and all the city life Chicago has to offer brings students to UChicago, one of the colleges with the best dorms.
Known popularly as “Max,” the Max Palevsky Residential Commons is one of Chicago’s most recognizable residence halls, designed by famed Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta and named for an alumnus whose $20 million gift made it possible. Students at the Max are assigned to one of 8 in-hall “houses,” each of which has its own unique community and character, but share a basement, dining hall, courtyard, and more. In addition, Max includes music practice rooms, something rare in even the best college dorms. All freshmen are required to live on campus, and as much as 60% of students choose to continue in their houses, thanks to comfortable amenities, a close-knit culture, and ample support.
Featured Dorm: Max Palevsky Residential Commons
Scripps CollegeClaremont, CA
Founded in 1926, Scripps College is one of the Claremont Colleges, the elite liberal arts colleges clustered around Claremont, CA. Frequently ranked as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the nation, and one of the best women’s colleges, Scripps began as a rarity, focused on preparing young women for professional life rather than refinement, unlike many women’s colleges of the time. That tradition remains very much in place at Scripps, a college well known for its strong campus culture and focus on achievement, with a deep foundation in the liberal arts combined with rigorous training in professional skills.
At Scripps, as in all the Claremont Colleges, students have a vivacious, active social life that overlaps across all of the 5Cs, but Scripps is particularly known for the quality and comfort of their residence life. This primarily residential campus is widely considered one of the most beautiful in the US, with lush gardens and a Mediterranean architectural style, including Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall. Named for a generous alumnus, Jungels-Winkler Hall is open, bright, and airy, carrying the Mediterranean atmosphere throughout the hall. Like all of Scripps’ housing, the hall is mixed-class, with students from Freshman to Senior, and the home of the Bridges Living Learning Community, which emphasizes cultural and racial diversity and justice. It’s one of the best college dorms in America, and a vision of community.
Featured Dorm: Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Hall
Bryn Mawr CollegeBryn Mawr, PA
Frequently named one of the best liberal arts colleges in the US, and one of the most diverse colleges, Bryn Mawr is legendary for its academic integrity, innovative learning and ideas, and political activism. An uncompromisingly feminist institution, Bryn Mawr has exerted tremendous influence over women’s education and political thinking since its founding as a Quaker school in 1885. As one of the Seven Sisters, Bryn Mawr has a traditional affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania, and has intentionally resisted coeducation, focusing instead on the empowerment of women in the science, professions, and leadership. It’s also established a reputation as one of the colleges with the nicest dorms.
Many of Bryn Mawr’s dorms are historic, including several halls built in the 1890s and turn of the 20th century, such as Merion, Pembroke, and Denbigh. The first new dorm to be built at Bryn Mawr since 1969 is currently still known as the New Dorm, a 2015 construction connected with the Enid Cook Center – also known as the Black Cultural Center. With 101 single rooms, the New Dorm provides housing for members of Bryn Mawr’s cultural students groups: the Sisterhood (for African-American students), Mujeres (for Latinx students), BACaSO (for African and Caribbean students), and Zami (for LGBTQ students of color), and for any students who sympathize and support these groups.
Featured Dorm: New Dorm and Enid Cook Center
Washington University in St LouisSaint Louis, MO
Regularly ranked one of the top national universities, as well as one of the best for undergraduate education, Washington University in St. Louis is a private research institution in St. Louis, MO. Washington is particularly known for its medicine, law, and business schools, which are frequently named among the best in the world, particularly the Olin Business School. With around 15,000 students – half undergraduate, half graduate – Washington University remains dedicated to academic rigor and excellence, as well as a challenging and motivating student life, with some of the best college dorms in America.
Designed by the development firm Ross & Baruzzini the South Forty House is a four-building complex in Washington University’s South Forty, the 40-acre residential area south of the Danforth campus. The South Forty House is a perfect example of a swanky dorm, providing space for around 650 students in a village-like setting. Students have access to a convenience store and bookstore, an auditorium and College Hall, and fitness facilities. The whole complex is also LEED-certified Gold, thanks to a green roof, storm water reclamation, and other sustainable features. The Forty is known for its comforts and community, but South Forty House definitely kicks it up a notch, making Washington one of the colleges with the nicest dorms.
Featured Dorm: South Forty House
Oberlin CollegeOberlin, OH
Oberlin College, long held as one of the top liberal arts colleges in the US, has been a pioneer and a pace-setter since its very beginning. Founded in 1833, Oberlin was the first liberal arts college to admit African-Americans (in 1835), and the first to admit women on equal basis with men (in 1837). Oberlin’s spirit of innovation and forward thinking continues confidently into the 21st century, maintaining a reputation as one of the most politically active institutions in the nation, from the Civil Rights Movement to LGBTQ equality. Even Oberlin’s residential housing follows in the tradition, with an emphasis on diversity and community defining the best college dorms.
Oberlin’s Robert Lewis Kahn Hall is a prime example of Oberlin’s themed housing, which arranges students’ living around their interests and concerns. Part of the First Year Residential Experience Cluster, Kahn is the Sustainability House: all residents must pledge to live sustainably, including using alternative transportation and not owning a car on campus. The Kahn building is certified LEED Silver, and students are able to monitor energy usage in the building from any wing. Oberlin’s residence halls are known nationally, but projects like Kahn Hall are responsible as well as luxurious.
Featured Dorm: Kahn Hall
Rice UniversityHouston, TX
One of the elite Southern Ivies, Rice University is a world-renowned private research university in Houston, TX. Founded in 1912 from the estate of William Marsh Rice (who wanted a free university founded in his name), Rice became known over the next century for its productivity and discoveries in applied sciences, from computer programming to artificial hearts. But like many highly demanding universities, Rice is also known for a campus life that comes close to zany: the student who turned his room into a ball pit, or the students who flipped their room upside down during the legendary Beer Bike event, are Rice highlights.
Two of the most fascinating of Rice’s many fascinating dorms are the newest, McMurtry College and Duncan College. Both named for longtime benefactors, these buildings are LEED-certified Gold, a step beyond the Silver status Rice requires for all new buildings. Opened in 2009, these McMurtry and Duncan were designed to accommodate 650 students, and used creative and innovative methods to increase sustainability, such as pre-fab, energy-efficient bathroom “pods” in each room. In addition, rooftop gardens add to McMurtry and Duncan’s sustainability and cool factor, making Rice one of the colleges with the nicest dorms.
Featured Dorms: McMurtry and Duncan Colleges
University of Virginia-Main CampusCharlottesville, VA
There are quite a few colleges and universities that can claim Founding Fathers among their founders, but the University of Virginia proudly claims Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, philosopher, and President, as its founder. As one of the leading thinkers of the American Enlightenment, Jefferson designed UVA as a testament to the ideals of the Revolution, with an emphasis on science, exploration, and service. One of the most prestigious public research universities, and the definition of a Public Ivy, UVA remains a dream school for many students, and student life at UVA is famous for its traditions and character.
Unlike most universities (where the founder merely donated money), UVA was specifically designed by Thomas Jefferson, who drew and oversaw the building of what he called the “Academical Village.” Today, that Academical Village is still the center of UVA, and the most sought-after housing on campus is The Lawn, the 54 single rooms that are a part of Jefferson’s original plan. These rooms aren’t necessarily luxurious – they have no air conditioning or kitchen of their own, though they do have fireplaces – but they are certainly prestigious, and the envy of all. Only fourth and fifth-year students can apply to live in this historical landmark, making it not only one of the best college dorms, but one of the most exclusive.
Featured Dorm: The Lawn
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Loyola University MarylandBaltimore, MD
Loyola University Maryland is a highly-ranked Catholic university in Baltimore, MD, part of the prestigious Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. Founded in 1852, Loyola is a Baltimore icon and a transformative force for education in the region. Regularly ranked as one of the top regional universities in the North, Loyola has also been named an up-and-coming university and one of the best values. Loyola is also known for one of the best business schools in the nation, the Sellinger School of Business, and has been noted for having some of the best dorms in the nation.
Loyola’s Newman Towers provides students with all of the amenities of an upscale apartment, right on the university’s campus for convenience and community. Newman is a 9-floor, 2-tower apartment building with apartments for anywhere from 2 to 8 students. While Newman’s accommodations are excellent, including 24-hour common area and fully-furnished suites, it’s dining where Newman really shines. Iggy’s Market, on the ground floor, provides a small grocery store and fresh-made meals for residents, and a dining area. An apartment building with a grocery and cafe – sounds like the best of urban living, and one of the best college dorms.
Featured Dorm: Newman Towers
Emory UniversityAtlanta, GA
Emory University is one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions, recognized as one of the Southern Ivies and ranked as one of the wealthiest universities in the world by endowment. Emory is home of Georgia’s largest healthcare system, and since its founding in 1836, Emory has built a reputation as one of the most productive research institutions globally. Student life is highly diverse, and is known for a commitment to community service, social justice, and cultural exchange. Emory’s housing reflects its values, standing firmly among the colleges with the best dorms.
As a Southern Ivy, Emory provides housing that lives up to the name. Since all freshmen are required to live on campus, Emory offers more options for first-year students, but Raoul Hall is a standout. Raoul Hall is the home of the Social Entrepreneurship living-learning community, so residents are united by their dedication to changing the world; the hall is named for Emory’s first female law school graduate, Eleonore Raoul Greene, who was a champion of women’s rights. For second-year students, Few & Evans Hall is distinguished as the campus’ first LEED-certified Gold buildings, with sustainable, energy-efficient features and large common areas for socializing.
Featured Dorms: Raoul Hall, Few & Evans Hall
The University of Texas at AustinAustin, TX
The University of Texas at Austin is one of the nation’s top public research universities, regularly named a Public Ivy and the foremost institution in the Southwest. UT Austin – located in the Texas capital, and Texas’ cultural center – is also one of the largest universities in the US by student body (top 10), which creates a lot of need for housing. The Austin area is frequently named one of the coolest cities in the US, largely because of the music and art scenes that have grown up around UT, and students can choose nearly any style of housing they could imagine.
It’s not a cliche if it’s true, and it’s hard to deny that Texas has to do everything big, including student housing. Callaway House is UT Austin’s bid for the most luxurious student housing, a 17-story high rise with more than 750 beds and the amenities of a swanky downtown apartment building. Residents have 24-hour fitness center, a rooftop pool and hot tub, game rooms and a theater room, and, most importantly, 24-7 on-call staff for any needs that come up. Students can choose private or shared rooms, and can request roommates. Just one block from campus, students can walk or bike (and a bike storage area keeps pedal-powered transport safe). The Callaway House is already changing the face of student housing, as one of the best college dorms in America.
Featured Dorm: Callaway House
St Lawrence UniversityCanton, NY
St. Lawrence University is a small liberal arts college in upstate New York, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Regularly ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the US, St. Lawrence has built a reputation as one of the best liberal arts colleges for professional careers. St. Lawrence also has one of the highest returns on investment in higher education, with graduates making one of the highest average rates of pay among liberal arts college grads. St. Lawrence has made its reputation on going beyond the classroom, with a focus on innovation and experiment, and as one of the colleges with the best dorms.
The colleges with the nicest dorms aren’t always what they seem. St. Lawrence’s Yurts at Arcadia aren’t necessarily what most people would call swanky, but they are unique. The Yurts are the student housing for St. Lawrence’s Adirondack Semester, a program that brings students to the 4000 acre conservation section of St. Lawrence’s campus to live off the grid for a semester. There are no cell phones, no laptops, and no running water, but there is the beautiful Lake Massawepie and the inspiring Adirondack Mountains. For students who want to learn about nature, sustainable practice, and personal growth, it’s a perfect setting for a life-changing program.
Featured Dorm: The Yurts at Arcadia
Brandeis UniversityWaltham, MA
Named for Louis Brandeis, the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice, Brandeis University was founded in 1948 to provide an Ivy League-quality institution for Jewish students, who were often barred from the more elite universities and liberal arts colleges. Today, Brandeis is a leading private research university, known for its strong grounding in the traditional liberal arts and its politically active, highly progressive student body. Community service, engagement, and service learning are also central to Brandeis’ student life and curriculum; some of the best college dorms in America are just icing on the cake.
Brandeis is known for their intense and challenging education – in fact, Brandeis has sometimes been called the most stressful college in American – but it is also known for a close-knit, supportive student body. Fraternities and sororities are banned at Brandeis, as all student activities are intended to be inclusive, and campus life revolves around clubs and resident life. The Massell Quad is home to first-year students, and in addition to comfortable, traditional dorm rooms, also offers the Beit Midrash Jewish Study and Prayer Room, the Kane Reflecting Pool, and the Yakus Meditation Area for a peaceful, studious student life – and a break from the pressure.
Featured Dorm: Massell Quad
Southern Methodist UniversityDallas, TX
One of the most prestigious and selective institutions in Texas, Southern Methodist University is frequently called a Southern Ivy, in the company of Rice and Emory, and is one of the most influential private research universities in the nation. SMU is deeply involved in life in Dallas, one of the nation’s busiest cities for business, and is especially esteemed for its powerful student placement. Nearly half of SMU students participate in Greek life, and deep networks throughout Dallas and Texas ensure that students build a career from day 1. Some of the best college dorms in America are a central part.
Southern Methodist University houses students according to a residential commons, in the traditional Oxbridge style (derived from England’s Oxford and Cambridge Universities). All students in their first and second year are required to live on-campus, an arrangement that was made possible with the opening of five new residence halls in 2014. Built by the Beck Group, the new SMU Residential Commons are all LEED-certified Gold, with efficient fixtures and water recycling. But more importantly, each hall has a live-in professor, classrooms, and seminar rooms, extending learning to every day of residence life. Among the colleges with the nicest dorms, SMU stands out for support.
Featured Dorm: SMU Residential Commons
Texas Christian UniversityFort Worth, TX
Regularly ranked one of the top national universities in U.S. News & World Report’s top tier, Texas Christian University dates back to 1869, when it was founded as a non-sectarian Christian college. As the city of Fort Worth has grown in the 20th century, TCU has developed into a large, doctoral research university, developing a strong reputation, especially in business. TCU is also well known for its longtime rivalry with Dallas’ Southern Methodist University, and Waco’s Baylor University, and for the loyalty of its students and alumni. Some of the best colleges dorms in America contribute to that loyalty.
TCU’s most recent dorms, opened in 2013, are Marion Hall and Clark Hall, both making up the Worth Hills Village. Called “The Hillz” by students (who have organized Hillzapalooza and numerous other events ending in “-z”), Marion and Clark were designed and built by the Beck Group, like Southern Methodist’s newest halls, as a model of the future of college student residence. Like SMU’s new Residential Commons, the buildings in Worth Hills Village are LEED-certified Gold and are roomy, comfortable, and designed for social interaction and growth. Just a short walk to the campus center, and across the street from Admissions, Worth Hills Village is a perfect first impression.
Featured Dorm: Worth Hills Village (Marion and Clark Halls)
University of FloridaGainesville, FL
One of Florida’s two flagship public research universities (along with Florida State University), the University of Florida is also one of the 10 largest single-campus schools in the US, with more than 55,000 students. Students come to UF for its top-tier engineering, health sciences, and business programs, but, of course, also for the sun and. Not surprisingly, with a population as large, diverse, and ambitious as UF’s, the university needs robust campus life and student residence programs, and UF has it.
Two luxury residence halls at the University of Florida are worth a closer look. Privately owned by Trimark Properties, Ivy House and Windsor Hall are two of the most inviting, comfortable residence halls imaginable, and offered at rates comparable to UF’s official student housing. Ivy House is a women-only, while Windsor Hall is coed, but both are located just around the corner from sorority row and only a short walk from campus. The building boast rooms much larger than the dormitories, with a pool and sundeck, full kitchen, and private bathrooms. They’re in high demand, and for good reason – they’re among the best college dorms in America.
Featured Dorms: Ivy House and Windsor Hall
Fordham UniversityBronx, NY
Fordham University, an acclaimed Jesuit institution in New York City, has been named a “Hidden Ivy” and frequently ranked a top national university. A member of the Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities, Fordham is known for is academic rigor and graduate success – a combination of excellent networking, strong professional preparation, and the Jesuit reputation. Fordham is particularly known for law, business, and education, making the most of its NYC location and the opportunities it affords. That includes some of the best college dorms.
Fordham’s upper classmen have some exceptional options for living on-campus in a supportive, motivating atmosphere. Life at Fordham’s junior and senior dorms – Campbell, Salice, and Conley Halls – is specifically oriented toward the needs of older students who are looking at their futures after graduation. Everything about these residences focuses on personal and professional growth, from post-graduate workshops and events to career magazines in the laundry room (so students can find their future while waiting for their underwear to dry). More than half the rooms are single, and private bathrooms help students find their independence in a college with the nicest dorms.
Featured Dorms: Campbell, Salice, and Conley Halls
Boston UniversityBoston, MA
Boston University is, quite simply, one of the most prestigious private research universities in the world, and a dominant institution in a city full of dominant institutions. Founded in 1838, BU is a crucial part of life in Boston – in fact, it is one of the city’s largest employers. As a top-tier research institution, BU is known for its excellence in medicine, engineering, education, and business, especially economics. And with more than 33,000 students in a highly-populated, busy urban environment, BU has made student housing a priority, with impressive results.
Student Village 2 (helpfully shortened to StuVi2 in BU’s marketing) is Boston University’s pride and joy, a 22-story high rise that marks BU’s significance in one of the nation’s most historic cities. Two towers provide apartment-style housing or suite-style dormitory housing for upper-division students. It’s one of the swankiest student residences in the region, and that’s saying a lot – since StuVi2 opened in 2009, many other urban universities have followed suit. Altogether, more than 900 students can call Student Village 2 home, providing plenty of space in one of the best college dorms in America.
Featured Dorms: Student Village 2
University of California-DavisDavis, CA
Part of the world-renowned University of California system, and considered one of the Public Ivies, the University of California, Davis is one of California’s most beloved and popular schools. Originally founded as the agricultural campus of the UC system (in 1905), Davis is definitely no longer rural – and UC Davis has far more programs than agriculture, from law and medicine to education and nursing. Davis is particularly known for its strong bike culture and city-wide outdoor activities, factors that bring students from across California and nationwide to one of the colleges with the nicest dorms.
Named for three of America’s most influential thinkers – Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Daniel Webster – the three residence halls of UC Davis’ Cuarto Area are among the university’s most comfortable and luxurious. With private courtyards, the Cuarto Area halls are the only ones on campus with pools, secure bike parking (a must in Davis), and their own convenience store, giving the Cuarto area the feeling of its own little village. Around 1000 students live in Cuarto, and the area is in high demand thanks to a strong community spirit. That’s what makes the best college dorms in America.
Featured Dorms: Cuarto Area (Emerson, Thoreau, and Webster Halls)
High Point UniversityHigh Point, NC
High Point University has long been ranked the top regional college in the South, and U.S. News & World Report also calls HPU the most innovative college in the region. Founded in 1924 as a Methodist college, High Point University has made its name on entrepreneurship and innovation, with a long list of esteemed faculty and speakers, including Steve Wozniak as an Innovator in Residence. High Point is unique in giving students access to some of the most inspiring entrepreneurs and innovators in the nation, in the setting of a small, supportive liberal arts college with the best dorms.
High Point University has won national attention for its ultra-modern, swanky dorms, especially the Wanek Center and the University Center II. While HPU has 19 residence halls – being a primarily residential liberal arts college – together these two building represent the way forward for student housing. For more than 500 students (in 300 rooms), the Wanek and University Centers offer a movie theater on the first floor, a restaurant on the fifth, and rooms outfitted with the most up-to-date fixtures. With comfort and plenty of space to socialize, High Point University’s residence life is just one more reason for a stellar reputation.
Featured Dorms: Wanek Center and University Center II
Campbell UniversityBuies Creek, NC
Campbell University was a small, little-known Baptist college for most of its history, but in the last two decades, this humble rural university has achieved national attention. The Wiggins School of Law has had a major impact, particularly as its classes have regularly had the highest bar exam pass rate in the region. Other esteemed programs, such as the Pharmacy School and Business School, have attracted students from around the nation and internationally, but Campbell still takes pride in its close-knit village, where it has one of the best college dorms in America.
Campbell University has grown in reputation and population in recent years, thanks to its nationally-recognized pharmacy and law programs, and when that growth made a new residence hall an necessity, Campbell took a unique approach. Students were issued a survey on what they would like to see in a residence hall, and more than 900 responses were taken into account to design Luby Wood Hall, opened in 2017. Wood Hall is built to be a living and learning community, with meeting rooms, a sunny common area, and 174 rooms. It’s the newest face of a historic Baptist institution, one of the colleges with the best dorms out there.
Featured Dorm: Luby Wood Hall
Mississippi State UniversityMississippi State, MS
Mississippi’s land-grant public research university, Mississippi State University began as an agricultural college and experiment station in 1878. Demand for professional and technological education in Mississippi allowed MSU to grow throughout the 20th century into one of the Deep South’s leading STEM institutions, especially in engineering. In fact, Mississippi State is one of the leading institutions for awarding engineering degrees to African-American students, and is highly ranked for its impact on social mobility throughout Mississippi and the Deep South.
MIssissippi State has made a significant impact on student life and success with their living-learning communities, which concentrates students in the same programs in the same living arrangements. Hurst Hall, one of MSU’s newest constructions, is the home of the Bagley College of Engineering Living-Learning Community, which provides engineering students a higher level of support and development. Students in Hurst receive tutoring and instruction in lower-division courses from upper-division students, within a comfortable, up-to-date dorm setting. Numerous other living-learning communities, from Women in Computing to Golf Management, are transforming student life at Mississippi State with some of the best college dorms in the South.
Featured Dorm: Hurst Hall
Arizona State University-TempeTempe, AZ
One of the most impressive success stories in American higher education, Arizona State University has seen an explosion in the 21st century from a regional public university to one of the most acclaimed, most innovative schools in the US. Arizona State is one of the nation’s largest universities, and students attend classes on five campuses throughout the greater Phoenix metropolitan area. Fortunately for students, ASU has designed their residential housing for convenience and access, designating each residence hall for a particular college, major, or sport, and placing students in close proximity to their main classrooms.
Manzanita Hall, for instance, is designated for students in the College of Liberal Arts and Science, and is located on the north edge of campus. Students have the highest order of amenities, including Manzy Square, an all-you-can-eat dining hall, and easy access to downtown Tempe. Other designated residences include halls for the Carey School of Business, the School of Sustainability, and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. With ASU’s reputation for innovation, students can expect housing to work for their benefit. After all, why shouldn’t the most innovative college in America also have some of the best college dorms?
Featured Dorm: Manzanita Hall
Union UniversityJackson, TN
Long ranked one of the top regional colleges in the South, Union University, in Jackson, TN, has a heritage reaching all the way back to 1823. Affiliated with the Tennessee Baptist Convention, Union is known for its commitment to improving the lives of students and the community. Union has been recognized by the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, and named one of the best colleges for character development. Union has also been named an up-and-coming college by U.S. News & World Report, and commended for its dedication to the highest quality of undergraduate education.
Union’s focus on character growth and holistic learning extends to its student residence. As a primarily residential liberal arts college, much of student life at Union revolves around the residence halls, which are divided into freshman and upper-division housing. The Quads – four residence halls (two for men and two for women) provide the backbone of student life. Apartments with private bedrooms and a common kitchen and living room give students privacy and community, while an active social life offers events and traditions like Progressive Snacking and Costume Coffee House. Some of the best college dorms in America are helping make Union a nationally-known name.
Featured Dorms: The Quads
Arcadia UniversityGlenside, PA
Dating back to the Beaver Female Seminary in 1853, Arcadia University was originally a Methodist Episcopal college in Beaver, PA, before buying the former William Welsh Harrison estate in Glenside, PA. Today, Arcadia is known as a top-ranked small liberal arts college, providing a student body of around 4000 with the support and challenge of a traditional liberal arts education. Arcadia is also known as one of the top schools in the nation for study abroad, though with Arcadia’s campus life, it’s surprising anyone would ever leave some of the best college dorms in America.
A few select freshmen at Arcadia get to live in one of the most unique dorms in the world – a literal castle. A National Historic Landmark, the Grey Towers Castle was built for William Welsh Harrison by the architect Horace Trumbauer, and designed in an eclectic style mixing Renaissance and other Continental styles. Students live in third-floor dorms, while the downstairs areas are used for lectures, cultural events, and the presentation of Senior Capstone projects. It’s not many students who can say that they lived in a castle in college, but for a lucky few at Arcadia, it will probably be the most opulent housing of their lives.
Featured Dorm: Grey Towers Castle
University of ArizonaTucson, AZ
Arizona’s flagship public research university, the University of Arizona is regularly ranked among the top public university nationally, and known as a top institution for law and medicine. UA was founded in 1885, the first university in Arizona, and UA has been the center of Arizona’s business, politics, and professional education for nearly a century and a half. Classified as a top-tier research institution by the Carnegie Foundation, UA is also known for its space and aeronautics research, but the Eller College of Business is UA’s main claim to fame.
With well over 40,000 students, campus life at the University of Arizona is diverse and busy, and with 23 residence halls, UA works hard to keep students accommodated and comfortable. One of the university’s most-loved halls is the Rawls-Eller Lodge, a 2-story building in the Historic District, near Greek Row. The Lodge offers students double or quad rooms, with private bathrooms, and provides space for 66 lucky students. A full basketball court and sun deck give students a place to enjoy Tucson’s nearly 300 yearly days of sun, and quiet study areas throughout the Lodge are made for serious students.
Featured Dorm: Rawls-Eller Lodge
Illinois Institute of TechnologyChicago, IL
Founded in 1890, when Chicago was well on its way to becoming a global city, the Illinois Institute of Technology was built on the then-new polytechnic model, the foundation of modern STEM education. With a focus on practical, applied science, educational rigor, and innovation, Illinois Tech became known for its research and development in areas like engineering, architecture, and business. Today, IIT is still one of Chicago’s most iconic and influential institutions, and a destination for students all over the world.
IIT’s State Street Village provides students with an authentic Chicago experience, right down to the Green Line L train passing behind the building. Designed by Helmut Jahn, the legendary Chicago-based architect, the State Street Village is made up of three 5-story buildings on State St., the main street through the IIT campus. Two of the buildings are suite style, with students sharing rooms, and one is an apartment-style layout. Two roof-top terraces provide students with panoramic views of the city, and 24-hour staffing covers any needs students may have throughout the day and night.
Featured Dorm: State Street Village
University of North FloridaJacksonville, FL
Frequently named one of the top colleges in the South by publishers like Forbes and the Princeton Review, the University of North Florida is a top regional educator known for its professional studies, especially in business. UNF also has one of the top jazz music programs in the nation, but more importantly, the university is known for its deep and active commitment to the community – both its community of 15,000 students, and to the people of Jacksonville, FL.
Osprey Fountains is one of the newest residential units at UNF, a 5-story, nearly 400,000 square foot housing complex that opened in 2009. Few residence halls in the South can claim all of the amenities of Osprey Fountains, which offers perqs closer to a luxury hotel than a traditional dorm. Numerous 24 hour opportunities, including fitness center, game room, and themed lounges for karaoke, gaming, sports viewing, and even a 24-hour library charmingly named The Morgue. A pool, lazy river, tennis and basketball courts, track, and more also provide activity for Osprey’s 1000 residents, and make UNF a college with the nicest dorms.
Featured Dorm: Osprey Fountains
University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH
A top-tier public research university, and Ohio’s second-largest, the University of Cincinnati goes way back, to a college founded in 1819. As such, UC has played a critical role in Cincinnati’s growth, educating generation after generation of Cincinnati’s leaders, professionals, artists, and educators. That commitment to Cincinnati – its people, life, and culture – has remained central to UC’s student life and institutional development, including the university’s housing and outreach.
The University of Cincinnati’s award-winning Morgens and Scioto Halls have been recognized nationwide for its design and its luxury. This ambitious high-rise provides more than 450 students with comfortable, private apartment-style accommodations, but students are still on the UC campus for convenience and community. Opened in 2013 after extensive renovations, Morgens was designed along with UC’s commitment to sustainability, followed by its sister building, Scioto, in 2016. The buildings, built in 1964, were chosen for renovation rather than demolition, making them a vision of Cincinnati’s transformation in the 21st century, reborn into some of the best college dorms in America.
Featured Dorm: Morgens Hall and Scioto Hall
University of HoustonHouston, TX
The University of Houston is a major public research institution and the flagship of the UH system, made up of four universities. Founded in 1927, UH has been a major part of Houston’s growth over the 20th century, with world-renowned STEM research programs in areas like superconductors, space exploration, artificial intelligence, and biomedical engineering. With an annual economic footprint of more than $3 billion, and more than 24,000 jobs, UH is a prime urban research institution.
The University Lofts gives University of Houston students a taste of real urban life in an apartment-style high-rise residence hall. Rooms have 10-foot ceilings, granite countertops, urban-style expose concrete, and even views of downtown Houston. Even better, University Lofts includes the kinds of amenities young urban professionals would expect, including two rooftop terraces, a sky lounge, fitness center, theater, and courtyard with retail. Only juniors and seniors are eligible to live in the Lofts.
Featured Dorm: University Lofts
Sonoma State UniversityRohnert Park, CA
Located in the heart of California’s wine country, Sonoma State University was founded in 1960 to meet the growing education needs of the region, which had previously been rural and sparsely populated. As the area has grown, so has SSU, with more than 9000 students, to educate, house, and entertain. Of course, in its location, Sonoma State has a nationally-recognized viticulture and wine business program, attracting students from far and wide.
Sonoma State’s Villages have been recognized nationwide for swankiness, providing students with housing in a handsome garden apartment-style setting. The names for the Villages are chosen to evoke old-world luxury and California Wine Country – Beaujolais, Tuscany, Sauvignon, Cabernet, Verdot, and Zinfandel. Suite-style accommodations give students private bedrooms and bathrooms with shared living areas, while the beautiful outdoor recreation areas give students a place to interact and build community. 1500 square foot, 4-bedroom apartments are spacious and private for upper-division students.
Featured Dorms: The Villages
Florida Gulf Coast UniversityFort Myers, FL
Founded in 1991, Florida Gulf Coast University is one of the youngest members of the State University System of Florida, and a model of growth and development. With nearly 15,000 students, FGCU has been named in the top tier of regional universities, providing high-level education for the people of Florida. FGCU has become best known for its engineering and business programs, particularly in hospitality management – a major field in Florida.
FGCU’s freshmen (and some sophomores) live in South Village, a residence hall that could easily be mistaken for one of Florida’s luxury resorts. More than 80% of freshmen live on campus, and with amenities like South Village, it’s no wonder, A recreation pool, game room, movie theater and more combine with classrooms and an advising office to make the perfect combination for new students transitioning to college life. Florida Gulf Coast’s South Village is a college housing experience no one will want to leave.
Featured Dorm: South Village
Pace UniversityNew York, NY
One of the top-ranked national universities, according to publishers like U.S. News and Forbes, Pace University began in 1906 as a small accounting school. Fortunately, Pace was in the right place for it – the island of Manhattan. Today, Pace is still recognized as one of the top business schools in the world, but also attracted students to New York with programs in health professions, computer science, and the world-renowned Actors Studio MFA. Students expect the best from Pace, including the best in housing.
If you’re looking for housing in Lower Manhattan, you’re not likely to find anything nearly as luxurious as Pace’s Beekman Hall without some real connections. Pace’s newest residence hall, Beekman offers the full New York experience in the supportive environment of an on-campus dorm. Beekman is the tallest residence hall in the world, at 34 stories high, and students have an impressive view of New York City. Quad, Triple, or Single room options, with private baths, feel more like an apartment than a dorm, and a 24-hour gym and other fancy amenities make Beekman Hall a serious urban experience.
Featured Dorm: Beekman Hall
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