45 Best Party Schools in the US
Looking for the best party school in the U.S.? Okay, so that’s not one of the main reasons you should choose a university. First, you probably want to look at their academics and certifications, but it doesn’t hurt to look at how much fun they have. We’re not saying that you need to go out and get drunk every single night until you forget you have a calculus exam the next morning, but you can still have fun in college. In fact, partying may help you relax and actually do better at school – who knows!?
Some of you may also choose to read this list in an attempt to figure out where exactly should you avoid. No one blames you if you’re the type of person that solely focuses on academics, although some would encourage you to also look at other aspects. “There’s more to life!” they’d say. Whatever. You’ll have a lot more fun after you’ve graduated with your degree, and you have a high paying job!
We’re taking a look at some of the schools that have reputations for doing all they can to have fun. We averaged university rankings from the past five years to pinpoint the most Animal House-like atmosphere, so you can decide if it’s where you want to go or somewhere you’d rather avoid. From the north to the south, we’ve looked at them all. Without further ado, here are 45 universities that really know how to open the doors and have a huge parrrrtay!
Ole Miss Rebels
If you've ever been to Ole Miss, you know about their Southern charm. Everybody's a good host and wants to make sure guests have a good time. There's no better example of this than The Grove during football games. Plus, "hotty toddy" is in their fight song. Need we say more?
A lot of the parties are based around the Greek system and tailgating. Honestly, if you're looking for an unforgettable tailgating experience, go to Ole Miss. Football in the south is like water to ducks.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Unless you live in Alabama, you have no idea what the tailgating scene is like. Gameday is a blur, especially when they’re going against their rivals, Auburn. Fans go hard, and it’ll be a party you’ll never forget. This rivalry is as old as the schools themselves.
The school itself was built on the tradition of football and Greek life, and students are serious about keeping it alive. At UA, you'll meet friends for life and party buddies galore.
Florida State Seminoles
Florida is Spring Break central. When you live there, every day is like Spring Break, right? Florida State and the University of Florida have long-standing rivalries in numerous aspects, and party culture is no exception.
Though, the 'Noles lose out here to their cross-state competitors. The last time State ranked above the Gators was way back in 2012. Whatever. The school just has to party harder to remain on top.
Sonoma State Seawolves
We’re not gonna lie about this one. Greek life parties at Sonoma State are fine and all, but the real party happens at the Snow Club. Frat parties happen almost every week, but cops are usually called and parties are busted up.
Some people prefer to party in huge groups while others have a small get together to avoid the police. Sonoma State is also known for being very academically inclined, so it’s a balancing game at this university.
DePauw's Greek-letter community consistently ranks as one of the largest when measured as a percentage of the student body that participates, which isn't a surprise since this is the home of the first modern women's sorority and two of the longest continuous fraternities in the world.
This large Greek life presence might account for such a high ranking. Then again, as the birthplace of the Society of Professional Journalists, DePauw might simply be full of writers worried about the internet killing the print business.
Lehigh Mountain Hawks
Lehigh jumped into the rankings at #10 in 2014 and rose to #6 in 2015. That's even after the school introduced a "Lehigh After Dark" program in 2012 to reduce high-risk behaviors. It didn't quite work as well as they wanted.
Lehigh is a small, competitive school, however, and has also been called a "Hidden Ivy," a nod to the academically rigorous Ivy League. Therefore, some just see it as part of the school's nature: study hard, play hard!
When summer rolls around in College Park, many bars and restaurants heavily adjust their hours or close up shop until August rolls around again. That's how big partying is in Maryland. It literally controls the entertainment industry.
Not only does the college provide an important part of the workforce, but the students are also the patrons. Students must be getting their work done though since not many are sticking around for summer school.
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
Miami University is basically in a city created just for itself. The median age of Oxford, Ohio, is just 21-years-old. That's a lot of people who will be wanting to legally raise a glass for the first time on their birthday.
The Miami Redhawks are also huge into Greek life. There are over 50 fraternity and sorority organizations on campus. Basically, things are known to get a little crazy.
We'll cut Wisconsin a break because it's probably not their fault. The state of Wisconsin, as a whole, has a high level of alcohol consumption compared to national averages.
Wisconsin is also part of the "Beer Belly" of America (along with Minnesota and both Dakotas). They have three times as many bars as grocery stores, according to Washington Post.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons
Somehow, Wake Forest University beat out every other North Carolina college. Much of this is because students’ social life is heavily wrapped up around Greek life. Most fraternities and sororities have at least one day a week, either Friday or Saturday.
That isn't to say Wake Forest isn't focused on academics too. They call it "Work Forest" for a reason. Those who work hard have to party harder to relax a little.
Party school rankings change greatly from year to year. If a school has a high ranking one year, it usually falls in the rankings the next, usually following changes from the university’s administration.
One school that bucks this trend is the University of Iowa. They’ve consistently stayed among the top four during the past four years. While other schools have come and gone, Iowa sticks around. This truly makes them the kings of campus in this regard.
Delaware Fightin’ Blue Hens
UD students don’t lack places to drink. There are several bars, taverns, and restaurants with ample happy hour deals to quench any thirst. Dages (aka daytime parties) and bar crawls are common, but the real party happens around St. Paddy’s Day thanks to Shamrockfest.
The school isn't too happy with their reputation so campus police often have to work with local law enforcement to break parties up. Students don't care much, however. Delaware Blue Hens are stoked and proud of their rep.
Maine Black Bears
The Black Bears sure know how to enjoy themselves. The university has made it onto top party school lists from several sources for two years running, and it's something the students want to keep rolling.
If you’re in the area and wondering what it’s like, go to Maine Day, which happens on May 1st. Most classes are canceled, so students spend the whole day having fun and partying.
Penn State Nittany Lions
You might think you were at an SEC school if you visited Penn State on a football game day. But the South doesn't have epic tailgates all to themselves. Students literally camp out for access to the student section.
These students basically invented day drinking. If that's not enough of a party atmosphere for you, don't skip THON. It's the nation's largest student-run philanthropy every year, aka a giant dance marathon.
Many SEC schools appear in the rankings, but Georgia comes in as the conference's #2 party school. It still ranks in the Top 10 for the past five years, but the school has mostly been on its way out due to a renewed focus from the administration.
Georgia peaked at #1 back in 2011 but had dropped down to #15 for 2015. Perhaps this is due to the school's recognition for community service and volunteering the past few consecutive years.
The #1 party school in Florida goes to the University of Florida Gators, but that's not without some strong competition from rival Florida State. What sets Gainesville apart is that they also have one of the best college bars: nationally-ranked The Swamp.
What better place to party than the annual Dance Marathon at UF? "How does that work?" you ask. Well, it's a 26.2-hour dance party, of course! It's one of the best times of year in Florida.
Syracuse is 2015's #1 party school, but they took their time getting there. They slowly climbed their way to the top of the rankings from spot 11 in 2012. Enjoy it while it lasts, though. #1s don't usually retain their crown from year to year. So what makes Syracuse so party happy? Start with Juice Jam to open the year. It's two stages with six different acts.
Then comes Mayfest, a longstanding school tradition celebrating the end of the spring semester with free food, drinks, and entertainment. And don't forget about Block Party, the night entertainment for Mayfest which has brought Zedd and 2 Chains to campus.
Tulane Green Wave
When you're school is located in the Big Easy, just steps away from Bourbon Street, how can you not have an active party culture? While they haven't been ranked in the past, Tulane has been coming on strong the past two years.
In the past five years, the under-30 population of New Orleans has swelled 25% so there are even more things for twentysomethings to do. Guess Tulane lets the good times roll over and over and over.
Ohio is another top 5 school that has recently seen it's ranking tumble. They now rank #13 for 2015 after being #1 in 2012. Like all good in-state rivalries, OU tries to party harder than Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
One thing Athens has that Miami doesn't is Court Street: a half-mile block of 23 bars. And just like Syracuse, Ohio has its own spring party known as #FEST.
With 50,000 students (both undergrad and graduate), UT Austin is huge just like everything else in Texas. That amounts to around 5% of the entire city's population. You might as well start making 6th Street your home away from home.
If you don't see a friend out and about here, you probably aren't really a student. You can't beat Austin with rock-bottom drink prices, great concerts, and music festivals all year long, either.
Vermont pops in and out of the rankings, which might be due to its student activism. The school has a long history of social justice so we can tend to forgive them for being a little crazy, right?
And if you were thinking of "hiding" something in a water bottle, think again. The school was one of the first in the country to ban the sale of plastic bottled water on campus. Now, where did we put our Nalgenes?
South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina only broke into the top 20 twice in the past 5 years. Once they began to rise in the rankings, the college quickly shut this campus-wide party down. Since then, they haven't made the list the past two years.
During the height of the campus party scene in 2011, the school canceled fraternity recruitment across the board. It seems that things have finally settled down a little since then.
Illinois Fighting Illini
UIUC has remained in the top five of party school rankings for the past three years. The big claim to fame here is the bar scene; campus alone has 12 bars. With specials like Tuesday Wine Night (yes, Tuesday), you get a sense of how the weeks go.
Coming in at #6 for 2015's Top Party Schools, you can bet students will want to up their game to be the best. Drinking is a huge part of student culture whether school officials like it or not.
UC Santa Barbara Gauchos
UC Santa Barbara not only has its own lagoon but also a beachfront. That means day drinking is basically required, right? Del Playa Drive in nearby Isla Vista is the center of the college's off-campus party scene.
Local DJs are known to play on the balconies of residences while students wander the streets between houses. Unfortunately, officials were pretty angry at their rep, so the killed the IV Halloween party, but students still party like no tomorrow.
West Virginia Mountaineer
West Virginia University peaked as the top party school in 2013, but they’ve slowly fallen down the rankings in the two years since. The one positive thing about the party culture here, WVU has the Morgantown Personal Rapid Transit system. That means you have no excuse for drunk driving or stumbling home.
Don't get us wrong. While they're dropping in party-school rank, they're still one of the top contenders. In 2019, they were still ranked as #4, so they're still one of the top party schools. Nothing can keep a good Mountaineer down!
Pennsylvania is apparently the place to be since two of its universities made the list. At Bucknell, it’s a tradition to party on the weekends, but parties also pop up during the week. Fraternities and sororities regularly host “House Party Weekends,” which is where pretty much everyone flocks.
It's pretty surprising that this school beat out some of the others considering they're much, much smaller. That just goes to show size doesn't matter. They have the best frat scene and booze galore.
Colorado was one of the first states to legalize, so naturally, this university had to be on the list. CU even ranked highly on Playboy’s list of party schools – there’s no doubt in our mind that this is one of the best places to party in the U.S.
Boulder also has four fantastic breweries in town, so a good drink is never far. On top of that, the city has some of the best places to eat in the state. Food and booze go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Colgate has a strong fraternity and sorority life, and the party scene is on fire. Being in a rural area, there’s not a whole lot to do but to drink and party for entertainment, and Colgate’s tailgating parties are insane.
Frat parties are pretty huge, although some party harder than others. It isn't unusual for a party to go until the morning. We're not sure how they get anything done, to be honest.
The university may not love its reputation, but students can’t get enough of the parties. It has one of the largest Greek systems in the country, and when the sports teams suck, students party even harder to make up for what they’re lacking.
The Hoosiers have even been able to attract performers like Rock Ross, Lil Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, and more. That's when you know you have a great party school -- big stars flock to your state.
Even though Union College is small, they can party just as hard as any other school on the list. In 2010, the student body had a little over 2,000 students, but they racked up 586 alcohol violations and 129 drug violations. That’s a big oof.
Niche took a survey and students claimed that there are tons of parties almost every night and that there are ample options Wednesday through Sunday. Not everyone partakes, but it's a huge part of the Greek life at Union College.
University of Arizona Wildcats
The university has a diverse and dynamic social scene that offers something for everyone. There are over 600 student-run clubs and organizations, including cultural clubs, sports teams, academic societies, and community service groups. Students can attend music concerts, theater performances, and sporting events at the university's venues.
The Tucson community also offers numerous opportunities for socializing, including restaurants, cafes, bars, and outdoor activities like hiking and biking. The university's location in the southwestern United States provides a unique cultural experience, with a vibrant art scene, delicious cuisine, and beautiful natural surroundings.
Social life at the University of Arkansas is vibrant and diverse, with plenty of opportunities for students to get involved and meet new people. One of the most popular traditions on campus is tailgating before Razorback football games. Thousands of students, alumni, and fans come together to enjoy food, drinks, and camaraderie before cheering on the team.
The atmosphere is electric, with music, games, and spirited conversations filling the air. Tailgating at the University of Arkansas is not just a pre-game ritual, but a cherished tradition that brings together the Razorback community and fosters a strong sense of belonging and pride.
It may seem crazy to think of an Ivy League school as a party place, but that's exactly what you get when you go to Yale. The school may have a distinguished reputation, but that doesn't mean that its gifted students don't know how to let loose and get a little crazy from time to time.
Like many college towns, there is no shortage of bars and clubs for students to find trouble in. Plus, Yale has Greek life like many other universities, so there are frequently parties at sororities and fraternities. Partying might not be the main reason people go to Yale, but it's a surprisingly easy school to party hard at.
University of Hawaii Warriors
If you're looking for a vibrant social scene, look no further than the University of Hawaii Manoa! With students from all over the world, there's never a dull moment on campus. You can catch a game of beach volleyball, join a hula dance group, or attend one of the many themed parties hosted by various clubs and organizations.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can even try your hand at surfing or stand-up paddleboarding. And of course, there are always impromptu potlucks or BBQs happening in the dorms or on the beach. No matter your interests, there are countless ways to have fun and make memories at UH Manoa.
(Images via Mj-bird, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons; Adobe Stock)
At the University of Kansas, social life is buzzing with endless opportunities to have fun! With its lively nightlife, parties, sports events, concerts, and much more, the campus is always alive and vibrant. You can join one of the many student organizations or clubs, attend a movie or trivia night, participate in one of the intramural sports teams, or grab a delicious meal from one of the food trucks on campus.
The annual KU Homecoming and the famous Jayhawk Jingle Mingle are events that no student wants to miss, bringing the whole campus together in a celebratory atmosphere. Simply put, at the University of Kansas, there is never a dull moment; the fun is non-stop!
University of Kentucky Wildcats
The University of Kentucky offers an electric social scene that will leave you wanting more! From Greek life to club sports teams, there's always something happening. Students can try their hand at new activities by attending events hosted by various organizations such as movie nights, live music performances, and comedy shows.
Sports fans can root for their favorite teams at the Wildcat's game nights or attend the renowned Kentucky Derby Festival. The campus also hosts events like the Cat's Cabaret and the UK A Cappella Fest that are sure to impress. If you're looking for a vibrant and entertaining social life, the University of Kentucky is the perfect place to be!
Morgan State Bears
Morgan State University boasts a dynamic and exciting social scene that offers students a wealth of experiences and activities. Students can join a variety of organizations, including the renowned Morgan State Marching Band and Greek life organizations, or get involved in community service projects.
The university is also home to numerous events such as Homecoming Weekend, which features a parade, step shows, and parties; the international festival that celebrates various cultures present on campus; and even an annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. With plenty of opportunities for making friends, learning new skills, and having fun, Morgan State University is the perfect place to enjoy a lively social scene.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst is a hub of activity and excitement, with an array of social opportunities available to students. From sporting events to movie nights, concerts to club meetings, there's always something happening on campus. With over 250 student organizations available to join, students can find like-minded peers, learn new skills, and make lasting friendships.
UMass Amherst has a vibrant dining scene, with food trucks and pop-up restaurants bringing new and exciting flavors to the campus. Don't forget events like the Annual Spring Concert and the Umass Fest, a favorite among students. Whatever you're interested in, you're sure to find it at UMass Amherst!
(Images via Lion Hirth (User:Prissantenbär), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Midjourney)
Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State University, otherwise known as MSU, is a vibrant and engaging campus with a lively social scene that has something for everyone. The campus is teeming with fun events, ranging from concerts to art festivals to sports games. Students can join one of the many sports clubs or participate in intramural leagues, attend a poetry slam, or enjoy a meal from one of the food trucks on campus.
Greek life is also big at MSU, offering a variety of fraternities and sororities to choose from. Additionally, the annual Great Lakes Folk Fest is a favorite community event that you just can't miss. With such a wide variety of options available, the social scene at MSU is sure to be unforgettable.
(Images via Branislav Ondrasik, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; Adobe Stock)
The University of Missouri, also known as Mizzou, is a bustling campus with a thriving social scene that offers endless opportunities for fun. Students can attend a variety of social events, including dances, concerts, and tailgates for sporting events. Greek life is huge at Mizzou, with numerous fraternities and sororities to choose from.
The campus is also home to various clubs, organizations, and volunteer opportunities, so students can connect with like-minded individuals and give back to the community. And if you're a foodie, you'll love the array of food trucks, cafes, and restaurants on campus. Overall, the social scene at Mizzou is buzzing with excitement and energy, making it the perfect choice for students looking for a fun college experience.
Montana State Bobcats
Montana State University, also known as MSU, is a lively campus with a fun and engaging social scene. From outdoor activities like skiing, snowboarding, and hiking in the mountains, to arts and cultural opportunities, there is always something to do. The campus also hosts various social events throughout the year, like the MSU Homecoming Parade, the annual Winter Carnival, and the Rockin' the Commons Concert Series.
With over 250 student organizations and clubs available, students can also find like-minded individuals and participate in activities they are interested in. Overall, MSU boasts an immersive social scene that students won't want to miss out on!
Rutgers University is a vibrant campus with a fun and exciting social scene that offers something for everyone. Students can attend concerts, watch sporting events, participate in intramural sports, join one of the numerous clubs or organizations, or enjoy a night out at one of the nearby restaurants or bars. Greek life is also big at Rutgers, with a wide variety of fraternities and sororities available.
The campus also hosts several events, including the Rutgers Day festival, homecoming week, and the Big Chill charity run. With fantastic food options and endless opportunities to make new friends, Rutgers University's social scene is an unforgettable experience for any student.
North Carolina A&T is a dynamic campus with a lively social scene that provides plenty of opportunities for students to have a blast. Students can participate in various activities, including concerts, comedy shows, sports events, and even on-campus farmers markets. With over 200 clubs and organizations available, there is a perfect fit for every student's interests, whether it's Greek life, service clubs, or academic organizations.
The campus also hosts a variety of annual events such as the "Greatest Homecoming on Earth," where students can enjoy a parade, step shows, and parties. With a beautiful campus, top-notch dining hall, and tons of exciting events, North Carolina A&T is the ultimate place to have a great social life and make unforgettable memories.
The University of Oklahoma is a lively campus with an exciting social scene that offers something for everyone. With over 500 clubs and organizations on campus, students can find plenty of opportunities to make new friends and try new things. Sports fans can cheer on the Sooners at football, basketball, and baseball games, while music lovers can attend concerts at the Norman Music Festival.
Greek life is also prominent at OU, with numerous fraternities and sororities to choose from. Plus, the annual OU Traditions Night, bedlam games against rival Oklahoma State, and the Red River Showdown against the University of Texas, are just a few of the exciting events that take place on campus. With so many ways to stay entertained, the social scene at the University of Oklahoma is always a thrilling experience for students.
Providence College Friars
Providence College, also known as PC, is a vibrant and engaging campus with a fun and festive social scene. The campus features numerous party events, concerts, and sporting events so students can take a break from studying and have a good time. With over 100 clubs and organizations to join, like the Friars club, students can connect and participate with like-minded people.
Students can visit local beaches and restaurants, or take a short trip to neighboring Providence, the capital city of Rhode Island, where they can visit art museums, theaters, or enjoy the annual Rhode Island Food Truck and Craft Beer Festival. With such an array of opportunities, Providence College is the ideal place to enjoy an exciting social life.
(Images via Kenneth C. Zirkel, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons; Adobe Stock)