University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri) from The most beautiful college campuses in America

The Most Beautiful College Campuses in America

The most beautiful college campuses in America

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The Lyceum Building, built in 1848, is the centerpiece of the University of Mississippi's campus.

While many prospective college students and their parents think about a university's academic rigor, prestige and price when choosing where to attend, another factor to consider is the beauty of the campus itself. Many American academic institutions have been designed to facilitate and inspire learning with impressive buildings, serene landscaping and amazing art.

We scoured media coverage, online reviews and other accolades to compile a list of schools from coast to coast with campuses that stand above the rest. Read on to discover if your alma mater is among the most beautiful college campuses in the country.

Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York)

Bard College (Annandale-on-Hudson, New York)

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With the Catskill Mountains as its backdrop, Bard College's campus has rural charm. Alongside its historic Collegiate Gothic buildings, it also boasts amazing modern architecture such as the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts, which has a distinctive curved metal roof.

Baylor University (Waco, Texas)

Baylor University (Waco, Texas)

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Baylor was founded in 1845 and is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Its buildings are primarily Georgian-style, including the iconic Pat Neff Hall. It is topped with a dome that is lit green to celebrate Baylor athletic victories.

Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee)

Belmont University (Nashville, Tennessee)

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Belmont University in Nashville is located on the former Belle Monte estate, which includes an antebellum mansion. Built in 1853, it is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 105-foot bell tower, gardens and gazebos are also scenic aspects of the school.

Berry College (Mount Berry, Georgia)

Berry College (Mount Berry, Georgia)

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Georgia's Berry College has the distinction of being the largest contiguous college campus in the world. The campus stretches over more than 27,000 acres and has 80 miles of trails for cycling, hiking and horseback riding as well as woodlands, meadows, streams, mountains and two lakes. The English Gothic-style buildings add European charm to this idyllic setting.

Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania)

Bryn Mawr College (Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania)

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Inspired by the architecture of Oxford and Cambridge universities, Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania is one of the first American examples of Collegiate Gothic architecture. The style of Bryn Mawr's Pembroke Hall was later copied at schools such as Princeton. The designer of New York City's Central Park also helped with the layout of the sprawling, tree-filled campus.

Columbia University (New York City, New York)

Columbia University (New York City, New York)

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Located on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, New York, Columbia is home to beautiful Beaux Arts buildings. Butler Library and Low Memorial Library both boast iconic Ionic columns, and the latter is one of three university buildings on the National Register of Historic Places.

Cornell University (Ithaca, New York)

Cornell University (Ithaca, New York)

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This sweeping 4,800-acre Ivy League campus in Ithaca, New York, is nestled on a hillside above Cayuga Lake near Cascadilla Gorge and its eight waterfalls. On top of stunning natural beauty, Cornell has a mix of historic and contemporary buildings, such as the Johnson Museum of Art designed by I. M. Pei.

Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire)

Dartmouth College (Hanover, New Hampshire)

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Dartmouth College is tucked away in rural Hanover, New Hampshire, and centered around the 5-acre Dartmouth Green. It has several historic colonial style buildings, including Baker-Berry Library, which has a 200-foot tower. This building, which opened in 1928 and received an addition in 2000, was inspired by Philadelphia's Independence Hall.

Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)

Duke University (Durham, North Carolina)

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Duke University is famous for its Collegiate Gothic architecture, with Duke Chapel as the campus's crowning glory. This landmark stands out with its 210-foot, four-spired tower. Students can take in North Carolina's natural beauty in the 55-acre Sarah P. Duke Gardens with 5 miles of paths or in the 7,000-acre Duke Forest, which is used for research and recreation.

Elon University (Elon, North Carolina)

Elon University (Elon, North Carolina)

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Elon's College Historic District and Johnston Hall are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These red brick, white columned Colonial Revival buildings exude small-town Southern charm. The campus is also dotted with lakes, fountains and more lovely features.

Flagler College (St. Augustine, Florida)

Flagler College (St. Augustine, Florida)

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In 1968, Flagler College moved into the former Ponce de Leon Hotel, a luxurious Spanish Renaissance building with Tiffany crystal chandeliers and stained-glass windows built around a central courtyard. The campus encapsulates and preserves Florida architecture and history.

Florida Southern College (Lakeland, Florida)

Florida Southern College (Lakeland, Florida)

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Florida Southern is home to the world’s largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings. The school enlisted the famed architect to transform a lakeside orange grove into a college campus. Wright set out to design "the first uniquely American campus" rather than emulating English university buildings. The first and most famous of his buildings is Annie Pfeiffer Chapel, made from concrete and custom molds.

Furman University (Greenville, South Carolina)

Furman University (Greenville, South Carolina)

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Students at Furman University can enjoy the lush South Carolina landscape of the gardens, lakes and trails across the school's 750-acre grounds. Its iconic bell tower is a 1958 recreation of the original built in 1854.

Georgetown University (Washington, DC)

Georgetown University (Washington, DC)

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This Washington, D.C., institution sits on a rise above the Potomac River, making for a gorgeous view. Within the campus itself are many impressive Collegiate Gothic and Georgian brick buildings, including Healy Hall, which is a National Historic Landmark.

Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts)

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As the oldest college in the United States, Harvard has many classic, historic red brick Georgian buildings around Harvard Yard that date back to the 18th century. The colorful High Victorian Gothic Memorial Hall, completed in 1877, is one of many campus buildings that are National Historic Landmarks.

Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio)

Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio)

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Kenyon College spans 1,000 acres in the small town of Gambier, Ohio, and has a 10-foot-wide tree-lined Middle Path that runs throughout the campus. Its Victorian Gothic and Greek Revival buildings create an air of academic solemnity.

Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon)

Lewis & Clark College (Portland, Oregon)

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Located south of downtown Portland, Oregon, Lewis & Clark College is surrounded by woods and bordered on one side by the Willamette River with views of Mount Hood in the distance. The campus is built around the Tudor-style Frank Manor House, a mansion with a waterfall and reflection pool.

Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)

Northwestern University (Evanston, Illinois)

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Located right on the shore of Lake Michigan, students at Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois, have clear views of the stunning Chicago skyline. The campus is full of greenery, trees and flowers as well as a variety of architectural styles, including the Victorian Gothic University Hall and the modern Patrick G. and Shirley W. Ryan Center for the Musical Arts, which has floor-to-ceiling glass walls to take in the lakeside views.

Pepperdine University (Malibu, California)

Pepperdine University (Malibu, California)

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College feels like a day at the beach at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.That's because the palm tree-lined campus is located next to the Pacific Coast Highway and the ocean. The school's Mediterranean Revival buildings also lend it a uniquely West Coast charm.

Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)

Princeton University (Princeton, New Jersey)

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Princeton is considered a paragon of Collegiate Gothic architecture because of famous buildings like Nassau Hall, the oldest building on campus and the former meeting place of the Continental Congress. It also has lovely arches, landscaping and footpaths criss-crossing its New Jersey campus for students and staff alike to enjoy the ambiance.

Rice University (Houston, Texas)

Rice University (Houston, Texas)

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Founded in Houstin, Texas, in 1912, Rice University offers a calm retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. The small campus's Mediterranean Revival buildings like Lovett Hall are surrounded by thousands of trees. A popular saying goes that Rice has one tree for every undergraduate student.

Salve Regina University (Newport, Rhode Island)

Salve Regina University (Newport, Rhode Island)

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Rhode Island's Salve Regina University owns several stunning Gilded Age Newport mansions, including the neo-Gothic French Ochre Court and the mock-Elizabethan Wakehurst manor house.

Scripps College (Claremont, California)

Scripps College (Claremont, California)

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Scripps College combines California Mission Revival-style architecture with diverse campus landscaping and peaceful courtyards. Students can even freely pick fruit from the dozens of fruit trees around campus, including oranges, figs and pomegranates. The entire 37-acre campus is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sewanee: The University of the South (Sewanee, Tennessee)

Sewanee: The University of the South (Sewanee, Tennessee)

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The huge 13,000-acre campus of Sewanee has charming Collegiate Gothic architecture, including All Saints’ Chapel. The chapel's beauty is perhaps only rivaled by the surrounding forests and stunning views one can see of the Tennessee Valley below.

Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas)

Southern Methodist University (Dallas, Texas)

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The Georgian-style Dallas Hall was the inaugural building of Southern Methodist University. Now this 164-acre suburban Texas campus is known for its spacious lawns and for hosting tailgates along the tree-lined stretch called The Boulevard on football game days.

St. John’s College Santa Fe (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

St. John’s College Santa Fe (Santa Fe, New Mexico)

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St. John's has dual campuses in Annapolis, Maryland, and Sante Fe, New Mexico, with the latter celebrating its surroundings through Southwestern-style architecture. Located at the foot of Monte Sol with a great view of the city, the campus encourages students to explore outdoors as it has hiking trails that lead into the surrounding Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota)

St. Olaf College (Northfield, Minnesota)

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Maple trees dapple the scenic campus of Minnesota's St. Olaf College, which is also surrounded by woodlands, wetlands and prairies. Two of its buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Stanford University (Stanford, California)

Stanford University (Stanford, California)

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Stanford's 8,180-acre campus is stunning from the moment you enter through the mile-long, tree-lined Palm Drive to head to the California Mission-style Main Quadrangle. The school's  "architectural crown jewel" is Stanford Memorial Church, built in 1903. Climb up to the observation deck of Hoover Tower on a clear day for a clear view all the way to San Francisco.

Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)

Swarthmore College (Swarthmore, Pennsylvania)

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Swarthmore College started in 1864 with just one building, the stately Parrish Hall. Today, it covers more than 400 tree-filled acres that are all part of the Scott Arboretum, which also includes a rose garden and a picturesque outdoor amphitheater.

Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Tulane University (New Orleans, Louisiana)

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Located in the vibrant city of New Orleans, Louisiana, Tulane University's current location opened in 1894 and is located across the street from the beautiful, 350-acre Audubon Park. The campus itself has many large live oak trees and features architecture ranging from Richardsonian Romanesque to Italian Renaissance to Mid-Century Modern.

University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)

University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, California)

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UCLA's current campus was established in 1929 with only four Romanesque Revival buildings. The campus today has more than 160 buildings on more than 400 acres. The campus has sculpture gardens, fountains and plenty of tree-lined green spaces and is a popular Hollywood filming location for college scenes in movies and TV shows.

University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

University of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)

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The University of Chicago's ivy-covered Collegiate Gothic structures were inspired by Oxford, and its 217-acre campus near Lake Michigan straddles the Midway Plaisance, a linear park created for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition. Multiple campus buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the school has its own botanical garden.

University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)

University of Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)

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The University of Cincinnati moved to its current campus in 1893 but in recent decades has been updating its appearance by commissioning new buildings designed by "signature architects." Frank Gehry's Vontz Center for Molecular Studies and Peter Eisenman's Aronoff Center for Art and Design are among the campus's modern gems.

University of Colorado (Boulder, Colorado)

University of Colorado (Boulder, Colorado)

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The University of Colorado hired architect Charles Klauder to design a distinctly rustic campus for this western state school. The Tuscan Vernacular Revival style he developed features sandstone walls, red tile roofs and limestone trim that complement the natural beauty of the campus's lake and two creeks as well as the Rocky Mountains in the distance.

University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, Hawaii)

University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, Hawaii)

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The Hawaiian islands are known for their stunning natural beauty, and the University of Hawaii chose a stellar location for its first campus location in Honolulu. Beyond the lush greenery and palm trees of campus, students have an excellent view of the majestic Diamond Head volcanic cone.

University of Mississippi (Oxford, Mississippi)

University of Mississippi (Oxford, Mississippi)

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A major landmark of the Oxford campus of the University of Mississippi is the Greek Revival-style Lyceum Building, built when the school opened in 1848. The Bailey's Woods Trail takes students on a scenic wooded stroll. The campus also surprisingly includes a golf course and an airport.

University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri)

University of Missouri (Columbia, Missouri)

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Founded in 1839, the University of Missouri campus is centered on Francis Quadrangle. This official national landmark area is home to six columns that are the only remaining part of the original Academic Hall, which burned down in 1892. The 735-acre Mizzou Botanic Garden also spans the entirety of campus.

University of Montana (Missoula, Montana)

University of Montana (Missoula, Montana)

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The University of Montana's campus sits between the Clark Fork River and the 1,958-foot Mount Sentinel. The brick Renaissance Revival-style buildings with green Spanish-style tiled roofs stand out against this beautiful natural backdrop. Students can get a bird's-eye view of the campus by hiking the 3/4-mile-long zigzag M Trail up to a 125-by-100-foot concrete "M" that gets lit up every homecoming.

University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana)

University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, Indiana)

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The golden dome of Notre Dame's Main Building is an emblem of this Indiana university, but the charming campus has many other beautiful sights that draw in more than 1 million visitors to the school every year. For example, the neo-Gothic Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the tallest university chapel in America and has 44 large stained glass windows.

University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia)

University of Virginia (Charlottesville, Virginia)

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The University of Virginia is the only American university to be deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson designed the school's Academical Village, including the neoclassical domed rotunda that was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.

University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)

University of Washington (Seattle, Washington)

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Founded in downtown Seattle in 1861, the University of Washington campus looks especially dreamy in the springtime, when its 30 Yoshino cherry trees are in bloom. However, the contrast between snow-capped Mount Rainier, the College Gothic buildings and the surrounding urban skyline makes for a lovely sight while strolling through campus in any season.

University of Wisconsin–Madison (Madison, Wisconsin)

University of Wisconsin–Madison (Madison, Wisconsin)

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The University of Wisconsin–Madison sits between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, and students and visitors can take in the scenery from the waterfront terrace at the student union. At the center of the school's main quad sits Bascom Hall. The university also has plenty of green space as well as a botanic garden and greenhouse.

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee)

Vanderbilt University (Nashville, Tennessee)

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Vanderbilt's campus is an urban oasis near downtown Nashville. It has many green spaces and hundreds of trees, including the impressive Bicentennial Oak, which dates back to before the American Revolution. There are various styles of buildings on campus, but one of the most striking is the Italianate-style Kirkland Hall, whose clock tower houses a 2,000-pound bell that tolls every hour.

Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, New York)

Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, New York)

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Vassar College's campus is an official arboretum, with thousands of trees as well as more than 100 buildings with different architectural styles. One of the most notable on the Poughkeepsie, New York, campus is the Gothic-style Thompson Memorial Library that is embellished with battlements and pinnacles.

Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, North Carolina)

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Originally located in Wake Forest, the university moved to its current campus in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in 1956. The first building constructed on the new campus was Wait Chapel, which has an iconic 213-foot bronze steeple. The campus is next door to Reynolda Gardens, which hosts woodlands, fields, wetlands and gardens across 125 acres.

Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)

Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, Missouri)

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Washington University was originally located in downtown St. Louis but moved not long after the turn of the century to 169 acres just outside the western edge of the city. The school's architects designed new Collegiate Gothic-style buildings inspired by Oxford and Cambridge. Brookings Hall is notable for its four regal corner turrets.

Wellesley College (Wellesley, Massachusetts)

Wellesley College (Wellesley, Massachusetts)

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Located on Lake Waban west of Boston, Wellesley’s 500-acre campus was designed to flow with the area's natural landscape of meadows and forests instead of carving out courtyards and quadrangles. The campus also has dozens of greenhouses and gardens with 1,500 different plants.

Whitman College (Walla Walla, Washington)

Whitman College (Walla Walla, Washington)

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Whitman College's campus is full of trees and outdoor sculptures and has two water areas. College Creek winds through the school's 117 acres and the geothermal spring Lakum Duckum, home to the school's beloved mallard duck population. The oldest building on campus, the Whitman Memorial Building, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia)

College of William & Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia)

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Located in historic Williamsburg, Virginia, the College of William & Mary was founded in 1693 in what was then the colonial settlement of Middle Plantation. The Wren Building, built in 1700, is the oldest college building in the country.The campus has many scenic spots, including the Sunken Garden and Crim Dell Pond.

Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut)

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Yale's architecture has noteworthy modern buildings, such as Eero Saarinen's innovative Ingalls Rink, but is known for its predominantly classic Collegiate Gothic style. Connecticut Hall, the oldest building on campus, was built in 1750 in the Georgian style, and the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library famously resembles a jewel box. The university also owns many beautiful restored 19th-century mansions along historic Hillhouse Avenue. The Connecticut campus is just one of many places around the world where you'll feel like you're stepping into the pages of a history book.

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