30 Most Beautiful Places to Go to Graduate School

By GSH Staff
Posted January 20

As a grad student, you’ll need plenty of opportunity to relax and recharge your batteries, which is why we decided to highlight the institutions and locations in this list of the 30 most beautiful places to go to grad school. These schools and their gorgeous settings have been chosen based on a number of factors that contribute to the overall beauty and enjoyment of the campus and its surrounding area.

Top 10 Most Beautiful Places to Go to Graduate School

Rank School Location
1 Cranbrook Academy of Art Bloomfield Hills, MI
2 Savannah State University Savannah, GA
3 University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu, HI
4 Florida Southern College Tampa, FL
5 Fort Lewis College Durango, CO
6 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA
7 Montana Tech of the University of Montana Missoula, MT
8 Lewis & Clark College Lewiston, ID
9 University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA
10 The University of Texas at San Antonio San Antonio, TX

Selection Process

Points were given to each university based on the beauty of the surrounding natural environment, including access to natural areas and activities as well as notable natural features and climate. We also gave points based on the beauty of the built environment and evidence of awards related to historic preservation or architectural beauty.

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  1. Cranbrook Academy of Art
    Location

    Bloomfield Hills, MI

    Covering over 300 acres just north of Detroit, MI, Cranbrook Academy of Art was designed in the early 20th century by world-renowned architects Albert Kahn and Eliel Saarinen as part of the larger Cranbrook Educational Community. The fine arts graduate program is frequently ranked as one of the best in the country, and its sprawling green spaces, fountains and Arts and Crafts era buildings make the campus a hidden gem within Detroit's northern suburbs. Comprised of outdoor theaters, reflecting pools and gardens, the facility is also the home of the Cranbrook Art Museum and the Cranbrook Academy of Art Library, which houses over 27,000 volumes of visual arts resources.

  2. Savannah State University
    Location

    Savannah, GA

    Originally built on agriculture and cotton, Savannah, Georgia is the oldest city in the state, established in 1733. Rich in history, culture and the natural beauty and charm of the Old South, Savannah State University sits on over 200 acres and is surrounded by historic architecture and a generations-old southern landscape. Savannah State University wins points for its proximity to one of the United States' largest National Historic Landmark Districts and the Central Georgia Railway Complex, the nation's oldest standing pre-Civil War era rail facility. A warm, subtropical climate makes Savannah pleasant year round, and the city's location along the Savannah River and nearness to Tybee Island offer ample opportunity for outdoor enjoyments like boating, swimming and fishing.

  3. University of Hawaii at Manoa
    Location

    Honolulu, HI

    Located in the lush rainforests near the southern coast of the island of Oahu, the University of Hawaii at Manoa offers graduate degree programs within one of the world's most beautiful settings. With master's degree programs ranging from botany to early childhood education, UH Manoa wins points for its proximity to a range of outdoor activities, including some of the world's best surfing, paddling and hiking. Founded in 1907, the university is only three miles from downtown Honolulu and Waikiki Beach, which offer ample opportunity for shopping, dining and experiencing Hawaiian nightlife. The university also wins points for being ranked in the top 17% of graduate education programs for its College of Education by US News and World Report.

  4. Florida Southern College
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Located east of Tampa in the northern Florida panhandle, Florida Southern College in Lakeland is frequently named one of the nation's most beautiful campuses. The small college, established in 1883, is known for its Child of the Sun building project that contains 9 structures including a chapel, water feature and planetarium, designed by world-renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The project gains accolades for its designation as a National Historic Landmark. Lakeland, FL also wins points for its year round warm, subtropical climate and its location near 38 lakes, for which the town is aptly named.

  5. Fort Lewis College
    Location

    Durango, CO

    Located south of the San Juan National Forest and east of Mesa Verde National Park, Durango, CO retains all of its historic "Wild West" charm alongside tasty restaurants and ample outdoor activities. Fort Lewis College offers graduate education in teacher leadership, and wins extra points for offering tuition-free education to Native Americans. Durango is steeped in mining and railroad history and has numerous historically preserved buildings, including the Strater Hotel and the Newman Building. The area is also a popular mountain biking destination for professionals and amateurs alike. Main Avenue is one of Durango's primary tourist attractions, receiving points for its quaint shops, restaurants and nightlife.

  6. Pepperdine University
    Location

    Malibu, CA

    Pepperdine University sits along the sunny Southern California coastline in the seaside town of Malibu, part of Los Angeles County. The university offers graduate education in a number of fields including business, education and psychology, and has six graduate campuses located throughout greater Los Angeles as well as international programs overseas. Pepperdine is awarded extra points for its pristine location along the coast and for its breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The warm, dry climate and nearness to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area lends itself to many outdoor activities including hiking, surfing and whale watching. Pepperdine ranked at the top of the Princeton Review's Most Beautiful Campus list in 2007.

  7. Montana Tech of the University of Montana
    Location

    Missoula, MT

    With plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, Rolling Stone Magazine named The University of Montana "the most scenic campus in America." Nestled between Lolo National Forest and Flathead National Forest, Missoula is located along the western edge of the state and was founded as an early trading post in the late 1800s. The University of Montana wins points for its breathtaking natural setting and its proximity to Missoula's Natural History Center, Historical Museum and numerous public art projects throughout the town. The city also has a vast trail system that reaches over 20 miles, and houses a historic district known as the Higgins Block downtown.

  8. Lewis & Clark College
    Location

    Lewiston, ID

    Named for the expedition that documented the western portion of the United States in the early 19th century, Lewis and Clark College was founded in 1867 in southwest Portland. Currently one of the most popular cities on the West coast, Portland wins points for its lush green spaces, stunning mountain views, and access to outdoor activities, delicious food and some of the world's best coffee all year long. Situated south of the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, and located in the Southwest portion of the city, Lewis and Clark College is known for its whimsical architecture and its commitment to green initiatives. One hundred percent of the college's electricity runs on hydropower, and all new building projects must meet LEED certification.

  9. University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    A warm subtropical climate with an exciting nightlife makes the University of Texas, San Antonio an excellent choice for those looking to expand their education in a contemporary city with deep historic roots. Home to The Alamo and the popular Riverwalk, UT San Antonio was recently awarded the Carnegie Foundation Elective Community Engagement Classification for community service. Near to the Japanese Tea Gardens, the San Antonio Missions National Park and the Natural Bridge Caverns, UT San Antonio wins big points for its historic preservation efforts, its location on the San Antonio River, and its numerous outdoor activities that include music, hiking and exploring.

  10. The University of Texas at San Antonio
    Location

    San Antonio, TX

    Designed by Thomas Jefferson and established in 1819, the University of Virginia in Charlottesville receives points for its stunning historical significance within the shadow of Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The University itself is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and the charming Rivanna River runs through the eastern portion of the city. Cobblestone streets, shops and historic buildings line the downtown city streets, and recreational activities like hiking and mountain biking make Charlottesville a highly desirable place for students and visitors alike.

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