Who says you can’t have the best of both worlds? Some people are meant for sunny beaches and cool ocean waters. If you are on the quest for higher education, why not seek out a college or university that offers a beautiful study view or a place to sneak away on weekends? There are plenty of schools which provide the opportunity to pack up the backpack and head off for an ideal day on the water.
We have handpicked the 30 amazing colleges at the beach for your new academic life. For those seeking to have a career dedicated to ocean atmospheres, most of these colleges offer plenty of oceanic degrees. The hardest part is deciding which ocean will you spend your years at college at.
Old Dominion University
On the Atlantic Ocean sits the port-town of Norfolk in Virginia. Called ‘where the city meets the sea’ you will find three rivers converging into the Chesapeake Bay that lead to the Atlantic Ocean. Old Dominion University is a public research university which offers oceanic research opportunities. The Maritime Institute is dedicated to providing world quality maritime, ports and logistics management education, training, and research. Enrollment reaches about 24,000 per year. The beach is only 7.5 miles away.
University of North Carolina Wilmington
This is the college for those who want to sail year-round. The J. Stewart Water Sailing Complex exists in the northwest corner of the Charleston harbor sitting on the Cooper River. Consistent gorgeous weather makes this an ideal classroom and work room. In addition to the sailing complex, this college also has a marine laboratory which is approximately 15 miles from the main campus. Charleston is a historic town with a charmed atmosphere and an amazing landscape. It is the oldest university in South Carolina, and one of the oldest in the United States. The college’s biggest claim to fame is the list of founders including three signers of the Declaration of Independence and three signers from the United States Constitution.
Point Loma Nazarene University
Southern California is going to have an abundance of beach side colleges and universities and Point Loma is a gorgeous San Diego university. It sits only 1.2 miles from the Pacific Ocean and is a Christian Liberal Arts college, founded in 1902. The enrollment only reaches 2,500 per year so student to faculty ratio is a whopping 14:1. Point Loma is known for being a forward-thinking university. The goals of the school are to combine academics, community, and faith. Sunset Hills Natural Park is next to the university providing amazing sunsets over the Pacific Ocean, or for stunning dives from the cliffs.
Coastal Carolina University
Coastal Carolina University integrates right into all of its natural surroundings. The Coastal Science Center, the Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetland Studies, the General James Hackler Golf Course, and the Myrtle Beach Education Center are all a vital part the university. There is an extensive marine science and wetlands biology study conducted on a 1,105 acre tract of land on the coast barrier which provides a natural laboratory. Myrtle Beach is world famous for its state park and ocean boardwalks. Carolina University is only 10.8 miles from the ocean scenes.
The ocean is not what comes up in people’s minds when they think of Yale University, however did you know the beach is only 2.8 miles away? While Yale boasts of beautiful architecture, and renowned education, New Haven Harbor offers beautiful parks for some serious relaxation. The Long Wharf area has notable features including the Long Wharf Theater, The Long Wharf Maritime Center and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park. This area is perfect for a variety of attractions like the Carousel at Lighthouse Point Park or East Rock Park. There is never a lack of interesting distractions around this New England treasure, and certainly not the near-by ocean.
Loyola Marymount University
Loyola Marymount University was founded in 1911 and is one of the largest Catholic universities on the west coast. Located in West Los Angeles, it sits on top of bluffs overlooking the beautiful Marina Del Ray and Playa Del Ray. Beach access can be found only 2.5 miles away. The school is near Dockweiler State Beach which an active public beach with a wide variety of activities, like hang gliding. Manhattan Beach sits nearby for those who require a more relaxed atmosphere. Ladera Park has 16 wooded acres and is set up with picnic grills, ball sports, tennis courts, an amphitheater, and a recreation center.
Florida Institute of Technology
When you consider Florida, you already know the beaches are going to be abundant and easily accessible. At Florida Institute of Technology, there is over 70 miles of amazing sandy beaches and the first one is only 1.3 miles from the school. Florida Institute of Technology is located on 130 subtropical acres. Be prepared to see the most stunning Botanical Garden. Students can earn degrees in Aquaculture and Marine Biology.
Brigham Young University – Hawaii
Situated between the Ko’olau Mountains and the Pacific Ocean with only 1.2 mile from Laie Point, Brigham Young University in Hawaii is paradise. On the island of Oahu, there are miles upon miles of pristine Hawaiian beaches. The university also includes connection with the Polynesian Cultural Center which is the largest living museum in Hawaii. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints owns this palatial university.
Located in America’s first city of St. Augustine, Florida, Flagler College is a quaint private college. It was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, which would explain why the campus is aesthetically a masterpiece. The picturesque Spanish architecture combined with easy beach access would make anyone want to attend this school. Better yet, much of the classes are often held outside in the sunny Florida weather. The average class size is only 19 students. Once class ends the beach is only 11 miles away.
University of Washington
Washington takes its own prize on natural beauty, but combine the mountainous outdoors with an attached ocean and it doesn’t get any better than this. Students can take a break from studies by heading on over to Discovery Park or the West Point Lighthouse to watch the sun set. University of Washington is a public research university and is home to a world-class academic medical center. There is ample recreation surrounding the university with Lake Washington, Green Lake, Union Bay, and Puget Sound. The beach can be entered only 4 miles away.
Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University is located in a naturally diverse, beautiful location. The environment is surrounded by ancient redwood forests, pristine coastline, and wild rivers. National Geographic Adventure magazine calls Humboldt’s hometown of Arcata, California one of its “50 next great adventure towns.” This is the outdoor paradise you have been waiting for with warm California sun and recreational opportunities galore. This is including biking, camping, climbing, hiking, kayaking, surfing, and so much more. This university uses an oceangoing vessel called “The Coral Sea” as an outdoor classroom for research conducted on the ocean. When you tire from the redwoods, the beach awaits you only 5 miles away.
University of San Francisco
Get a view of the famous Golden Gate Bridge at the University of San Francisco which is located only 3.5 miles away. This university is a Jesuit Catholic University founded in 1855. It is appropriately nicknamed “The Hilltop” because it sits atop Lone Mountain which is one of San Francisco’s highest hills. There are many outdoor adventure programs for students to join in, such as horseback riding, sailing, sea kayaking, and Alcatraz visits. With only 3.5 miles to the ocean, this is only one experience that San Francisco has to offer.
Samuel Adams is responsible for the opening of Bowdoin, a small liberal arts school with an enrollment of only 1,900 per year. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is a famous alumnus of Bowdoin, setting the precedent for a pristine education. Bowdoin owns 118 acre coastal studies center on Orr’s Island and a 200 acre scientific field station on Kent Island. The location of the school is set up to encourage a multitude of extra-curricular activities such as camping, boating, swimming and exploring. There are even river beaches on the Androscoggin River next to the school. If you are craving a beach of a different sort, then Bowdoin might be your educational experience.
California State University – Long Beach
California State University in Long Beach spans over 323 acres with an impressive eighteen story Walter Pyramid. This university prides itself on championing creativity and building leaders for an ever-changing world. The beach is only 2.5 miles away and provides exceptional opportunities for beach lovers and athletes. Long Beach was made famous by gold medalist volleyball alumni, Misty May-Treanor. If surfing is in your future, then Huntington Beach is only 9.5 miles away and notorious for the best sandy beaches and high surfs.
San Diego State University
San Diego is a warm weather paradise with some of the most tranquil beaches in California. San Diego State University, founded in 1897, sits close to Mission Beach, Sea World, Point Loma and Pacific Beach. The Mediterranean climate remains around 80 degrees year-round. This university offers days of studying and relaxing by the sun with over 160 undergraduate majors and minors to choose from.
California Polytechnic State University
California Polytechnic State University or Cal Poly sits in the beautiful city of San Luis Obispo right at the base of the Santa Lucia Mountains. This is one of California’s oldest communities which was founded in 1772 by a Franciscan priest named Junipero Serra. With the sweet Mediterranean climate, it only rains about 50 days a year in San Luis Obispo. For those wanting to hit the beach, Morrow bay is only 11.6 miles from the university. The university is known for a hands-on approach to higher education encouraging a philosophy of combining classroom theory with laboratory exercise.
California State University – San Marcos
Another great California University is that of California State University in San Marcos. This competitive school offers great facilities and easy proximity to the beach. It is one of the 23 campuses of the California State University system. There is an abundance of outdoor recreation and exploring opportunities available. South Carlsbad State Beach offers a variety of water sports. Legoland California Park is near-by as well. Other points of interest are Leucadia Oaks Park or Encinitas Viewpoint Park. This university boasts great educational paths as well as nature paths.
University of California – Santa Cruz
If you like rolling, forested hills opening up to the Pacific Ocean, then the University of California may be just for you. The 2000 acre campus is 75 miles south of San Francisco, close to Monterey Bay. Founded in 1965, UCSC has become known for being progressive and innovative in teaching methods. Students here are notorious for being very politically active. Santa Cruz is a beautiful coastline town surrounded by redwood forests. At the very end of Santa Cruz you can see the Natural Bridges State Marine Reserve, a protected reserve committed to the conservation of marine and wildlife ecosystems. The ocean is a quick jump being only 2.8 miles from the school.
New York University
New York University is a private research university nestled in the creative heart of Greenwich Village in Manhattan. Greenwich Village or ‘the village’ is famous for its attraction of the artsy kind. Musicians, writers, artists, and intellectuals all center here to explore and discuss New York’s culture. Located only two miles from the university is where the Hudson River flows into the East River and both join the Atlantic Ocean. It is atypical of other beach universities, offering a whole, new dynamic in city living.
Take an easy 1. 5 mile stroll from Seattle University and you will soon find yourself at the world famous Pikes Place Market. Not much further is the Seattle Aquarium, and Washington’s Puget Sound. With Puget Sound to the west, Lake Union to the north, and Lake Washington to the east, this is the ocean paradise for those who cannot get enough of the sea.
Seattle Pacific University
Seattle Pacific University (SPU) was founded in 1891 in this progressive city of over-achievers. More than 8 Fortune 500 companies are located around the Seattle area. This is a dynamic place to get an education and to check out the ocean daily. Seattle Pacific University is a small 43 acre campus with some of the oldest trees in Seattle. Located on Queen Anne’s hill, it is an artsy part of Seattle. For outdoor enthusiasts, the Pacific Northwest waits for those who love hiking, camping, and snowboarding. The beaches in Puget Sound wait for the sun lovers. Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest green space with rugged trails and beaches for miles.
University of Hawaii – Manoa
How about going to college at the world-famous Waikiki Beach? This is the paradise spot for those who absolutely have to be near a beautiful ocean. Waikiki Beach is known for its stunning white sand beaches and as a top surfing destination. The University of Hawaii-Manoa prides in leisure time spent surfing, snorkeling, kayaking, and sailing, fishing and sunbathing on one of the best-loved beaches in the world. Get your education in class and outdoors at this beach school.
University of Miami
The University of Miami was founded in 1925 on the idea of creating unique opportunities in inter-American studies, and pursuing research programs in tropical studies. With a strong focus on academic programs centered around marine science, oceanography and atmospheric sciences this is the school for students interested in working with the elements. With the beach only 2 miles away, and a Butterfly Garden within walking distance, as well as multiple nature preserves this university has it all. For history lovers, there are formal gardens and sculptures, grottos and even a 1914 mansion-turned-museum to ponder in. If this isn’t enough, take on Miami Beach for another exciting adventure.
University of West Florida
The University of West Florida is a public research university in the sunny town of Pensacola Florida. The entire 1,600 acre campus is a natural preserve which is bordered by two rivers and Escambia Bay. The university is basically waterfront property accommodating the natural waterways and the surrounding forest. Students are provided with unique new opportunities to try like the Saturday Sailing, where anyone can participate in a relaxing day on the Gulf of Mexico. UWF offers one of the best underwater archaeology programs in the nation, where students gain hands-on experience.
Hawaii Pacific University
Only at Hawaii Pacific University can you swim with the dolphins. If this isn’t enough then try your skills at snorkeling, parasailing, surfing or kayaking. Students regularly engage in these activities being only 1.5 miles from the white sand beaches of Hawaii. This Honolulu University offers students access to significant research programs in the marine and oceanic sciences at the Oceanic Institute. Enjoy Hawaii’s relaxed culture and perfect year-round weather while receiving a well versed education in the class and out.
California State University – Monterey Bay
Adjacent to Monterey Bay, and located in the charming city of Seaside, California, and home to one of the largest marine protected areas in the world, is California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB). Monterey Bay is the habitat for the area’s whales, deep sea anglerfish, sea otters, pristine beaches, and eco- tide pools. The beach is easily accessed only being 1.2 miles away and San Francisco is just two hours to the north. Carmel, a spectacular coastal town is only ten miles to the south. This campus is perfect and it is located on the site of a former Army base, Fort Ord; you can witness unique reminders of Monterey Bay’s military past are found all over campus.
With only one mile to the beach, this New England College rules! Set in the town of New London is this private liberal-arts school which is neatly placed at the mouth of the Thames River. Mitchell College sits on 68 acres of what once was a private estate, so the campus is rolling lawns, wooded walkways, and sandy beaches. This is a cultural metropolis for students needing the city and the ocean. Southwest Connecticut is a vacation destination because of the stunning coastline and sunny weather.
Salve Regina University
Located in historic Newport, Rhode Island, this area is known as one of the top surfing spots in New England. It is also the renowned sailing capital of the world. Salve Regina University students will experience the best of the city with a bustling waterfront filled with shops, restaurants, and other businesses that line the wharves. Students can ride the trolley to visit historical sites or walk along the Cliff Walk to view the breathtaking Atlantic Ocean. Beach-lovers will flourish in this coastal town. Salve Regina University is considered one of the most beautiful campuses in the nation.