Showcase of Academic and Higher Education Websites


College and university websites have a lot of roles to fill. They need to provide information for prospective students (both new and transfer), parents of students and prospective students, current students, and alumni. In many cases, they’re also the gateway to the school’s intranet and the public face for both academics and athletics. They often need to include reams of information in a way that makes everything easy to find. It’s a huge challenge.

And the truth is: most college and university websites are horribly designed. Either they look like they were designed fifteen years ago and then forgotten about, or they’re so overloaded with information that it’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for.

But not every college or university website is horrible. There are some excellent sites out there, and below are some of them. If you know others, please share them in the comments to this post!

General Colleges & Universities

Appalachian State University1
Appalachian State University has a simple color scheme and makes great use of icons in their header.


Ball State University3
Ball State University uses a sophisticated color scheme and typography combined with plenty of negative space.


Bates College5
The bold header and grid-based layout work well on the Bates College site.


Bennington College7
Bennington College uses a unique layout and design.


Berea College9
Berea College uses a clean layout, and the cutout in the navigation bar for the logo really sets it apart.


Case Western Reserve University11
Case Western Reserve University uses a unique layout and color options.


Champlain College13
Champlain College uses a sophisticated, muted color scheme and excellent typography.


Colby-Sawyer College15
Colby-Sawyer College has a simple layout with plenty of negative space.


William & Mary17
The bold header image and excellent typography set the William & Mary site apart.


The College of Wooster19
The College of Wooster uses an interactive, animated header.


Denison University21
Denison’s website makes great use of negative space and a simple layout.


Dickinson College23
Dickinson College’s site has a great color scheme and a subtle background image.


Elon University25
Elon University’s site includes a lot of details that make the site look really polished.


Hamilton College27
Hamilton uses a simple color scheme and straight-forward navigation.


Hampshire College29
Hampshire College uses a unique, sophisticated color scheme and typography.


Lenoir-Rhyne University31
Lenoir-Rhyne University has a clean layout and bold header slideshow.


Marlboro College33
Marlboro College makes good use of a simple layout and color scheme.


Middlebury College35
Middlebury College has a completely unique layout with excellent typography.


Minot State University37
Minot State University uses plenty of negative space and clean typography.


Nebraska Wesleyan University39
Nebraska Wesleyan has one of the best-looking college sites out there, with a fantastic background image and excellent typography.


Northland College41
Northland College uses unique typography and grunge elements to stand out.


Oglethorpe University43
Oglethorpe University uses a modern color scheme and typography.


Ohio Wesleyan University45
Ohio Wesleyan uses a bold color scheme and graphics.


Simmons College47
Simmons College uses a clean, grid-based layout and sophisticated color scheme.


Sweet Briar College49
Sweet Briar College steps outside of the norm for a college website and uses a more relaxed, feminine design (appropriate for a women’s college).


Syracuse University51
Syracuse University has a fantastic grid layout and modern color scheme.


Thomas Edison State College53
Thomas Edison State College has a great illustration in their header and a sophisticated color scheme.


Tufts University55
Tufts has a unique layout and excellent typography.


The University of Alabama57
The University of Alabama uses a grid layout and plenty of negative space.


University of Connecticut59
The University of Connecticut’s site has a simple layout and navigation.


University of Maine Farmington61
The University of Maine Farmington’s website uses a basic grid layout and great typography.


University of Miami63
The University of Miami uses a muted color scheme and simple, horizontal navigation.


University of Minnesota Morris65
The University of Minnesota Morris’s site incorporates a number of small details that give the site its polished look.


University of Nebraska-Lincoln67
A simple color scheme and clean, grid-based layout give the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s website a polished and sophisticated look.


University of Portland69
The University of Portland uses a simple layout and color scheme with plenty of negative space.


University of Rochester71
The large background image and non-standard navigation set the University of Rochester’s website apart.


University of the Sciences in Philadelphia73
The University of Sciences in Philadelphia uses a fantastic bright color scheme and clean typography.


Ursuline College75
Ursuline College has a simple layout, good typography, and lots of negative space.


Vancouver Island University77
Vancouver Island University uses a grid layout and fantastic, monochromatic color scheme.


Wake Forest University79
Wake Forest University’s site has clean typography and a simple layout.


Wesleyan University81
Wesleyan University uses a grid layout and sophisticated color scheme.


Westmont utilizes a slideshow header and great color scheme.


University of Aberdeen85
The University of Aberdeen has a fantastic grid layout.


Bournemouth University87
Bournemouth University uses bright accent colors and tabbed navigation.


University of Bradford89
The University of Bradford uses bright accent colors and a grid layout to stand out.


University of Chester91
The University of Chester uses an obvious grid layout, an animated header, and simple navigation.


Edge Hill University93
Edge Hill University has a header slideshow, minimalist color palette, and lots of negative space.


University of Hull95
The University of Hull has a unique layout, simple navigation, and great accessibility features.


Kingston University London97
The Kingston University London’s website uses bright accent colors and simple navigation.


University of Leeds99
The University of Leeds has a simple layout, minimalist aesthetic, and good typography. They also make excellent use of icons to simplify navigation.


University of Oxford101
Oxford uses a simple color scheme and clean layout and makes good use of negative space.


University of Southampton103
The University of Southampton has a bold header and simple color scheme.


Community Colleges

Salt Lake Community College105
Salt Lake Community College uses photorealistic and grunge elements, combined with a unique layout.


Passaic County Community College107
Passaic County Community college uses an obvious grid layout and a great color scheme.


Anoka-Ramsey Community College109
Anoka-Ramsey Community College has a unique color scheme and a good use of negative space.


Columbia State Community College111
Columbia State Community College has a simple layout and color scheme with clean typography.


Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising113
FIDM uses an excellent bright color scheme and a prominent slideshow.


Jamestown Community College115
Jamestown Community College’s site has a simple layout and navigation.


Joliet Junior College117
Joliet Junior College has a simple layout with a good use of icons.


Hagerstown Community College119
Hagerstown Community College has a good color scheme, clean typography, and simple navigation.


Lone Star College System121
Lone Star College System makes good use of transparency.


Washtenaw Community College123
Washtenaw Community College has great hand-drawn elements, and a unique layout and color scheme.


Northland Community & Technical College125
Northland Community & Technical College has a sophisticated layout and color scheme.


Northwest Iowa Community College127
The Northest Iowa Community College site uses a mix of collage, photorealistic, and hand-drawn elements.


Art and Design Colleges & Universities

The Art Institute of Boston129
The Art Institute of Boston combines a simple layout with bold header graphics.


Kansas City Art Institute131
The Kansas City Art Institute uses bright colors, a collage-style background, and loose grid layout.


Memphis College of Art133
The Memphis College of Art site uses bright bright pink accents combined with a simple design and clean typography.


Minneapolis College of Art & Design135
The patterned background, animated header, and clean typography set the site of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design apart.


Moore College of Art & Design137
Bold graphics and a textured background makes the Moore College of Art & Design site stand out.


The Ontario College of Art & Design139
The Ontario College of Art & Design uses a grid layout and modern orange and white color scheme.


Pennsylvania College of Art & Design141
The Pennsylvania College of Art & Design uses a modern color scheme and bold header.


California College of the Arts143
The California College of Arts uses a unique color scheme and animated header.


University College Falmouth145
University College Falmouth’s site has bright accent colors, lots of negative space, and simple layout and navigation.


Maryland Institute College of Art147
MICA uses a grid layout, muted color scheme, and excellent typography.


SCAD’s minimalist light-on-dark design sets it apart.


Corcoran College of Art & Design151
Corcoran’s mix of minimalist grid design and bold colors is fantastic.


Emily Carr University of Art & Design153
Emily Carr University of Art & Design has a wonderful minimalist layout and clean typography mixed with bold accent colors.


Oregon College of Art & Craft155
Bold background, great typography, excellent navigation.


Ringling College of Art & Design157
The grid layout and bold background give the website of Ringling College of Art & Design a unique look.


Other Institutions, Colleges & Universities

Asian University for Women159
The Asian University for Women’s site has an excellent gold and maroon color scheme and plenty of negative space.


California Institute of Integral Studies161
The bold typography and great color scheme of the California Institute of Integral Studies sets it apart.


Rochester Institute of Technology163
The orange and cream color scheme, simple navigation and clean typography make the Rochester Institute of Technology’s site unique.



While the vast majority of college and university websites out there are in need of serious overhaul, there are some fine examples of sites if you look hard enough. If designing a site for a college or university, remember that simplicity and negative space are both important, regardless of the amount of information a site needs to contain.


  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 5
  6. 6
  7. 7
  8. 8
  9. 9
  10. 10
  11. 11
  12. 12
  13. 13
  14. 14
  15. 15
  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
  19. 19
  20. 20
  21. 21
  22. 22
  23. 23
  24. 24
  25. 25
  26. 26
  27. 27
  28. 28
  29. 29
  30. 30
  31. 31
  32. 32
  33. 33
  34. 34
  35. 35
  36. 36
  37. 37
  38. 38
  39. 39
  40. 40
  41. 41
  42. 42
  43. 43
  44. 44
  45. 45
  46. 46
  47. 47
  48. 48
  49. 49
  50. 50
  51. 51
  52. 52
  53. 53
  54. 54
  55. 55
  56. 56
  57. 57
  58. 58
  59. 59
  60. 60
  61. 61
  62. 62
  63. 63
  64. 64
  65. 65
  66. 66
  67. 67
  68. 68
  69. 69
  70. 70
  71. 71
  72. 72
  73. 73
  74. 74
  75. 75
  76. 76
  77. 77
  78. 78
  79. 79
  80. 80
  81. 81
  82. 82
  83. 83
  84. 84
  85. 85
  86. 86
  87. 87
  88. 88
  89. 89
  90. 90
  91. 91
  92. 92
  93. 93
  94. 94
  95. 95
  96. 96
  97. 97
  98. 98
  99. 99
  100. 100
  101. 101
  102. 102
  103. 103
  104. 104
  105. 105
  106. 106
  107. 107
  108. 108
  109. 109
  110. 110
  111. 111
  112. 112
  113. 113
  114. 114
  115. 115
  116. 116
  117. 117
  118. 118
  119. 119
  120. 120
  121. 121
  122. 122
  123. 123
  124. 124
  125. 125
  126. 126
  127. 127
  128. 128
  129. 129
  130. 130
  131. 131
  132. 132
  133. 133
  134. 134
  135. 135
  136. 136
  137. 137
  138. 138
  139. 139
  140. 140
  141. 141
  142. 142
  143. 143
  144. 144
  145. 145
  146. 146
  147. 147
  148. 148
  149. 149
  150. 150
  151. 151
  152. 152
  153. 153
  154. 154
  155. 155
  156. 156
  157. 157
  158. 158
  159. 159
  160. 160
  161. 161
  162. 162
  163. 163
  164. 164

↑ Back to top Tweet itShare on Facebook

Cameron Chapman is a professional Web and graphic designer with over 6 years of experience. She writes for a number of blogs, including her own, Cameron Chapman On Writing. She’s also the author of The Smashing Idea Book: From Inspiration to Application.

  1. 1

    Perhaps I’m biased, but my alma mater, Brigham Young University, has a pretty decent site.

  2. 52

    Recently, I too was doing some research on college and university web sites. I ran across this site which I thought was pretty cool, especially for their size. They did a nice job of segmenting their audiences, serving up a dedicated page just for prospective undergrads.

    BIOLA University – undergrad microsite:

    Nice use of video and social media.

  3. 103

    Saint Louis University – #gameover

  4. 154

    Awesome list!

    Here is another outdoor education site:

  5. 205

    Excellent review. To add to the list

  6. 256

    Nebraska Wesleyan University

    They have an amazing virtual tour and design created by local Nebraska firm’s “Bozell and Roundscapes”

  7. 307

    I think it’s great to see that schools have finally started to realize that they need to pay more attention to online, and this a great list showcasing that. I remember back in the day when it was painful to use the web to preview class schedules and programs,etc. I guess it finally clicked that a school is a business and they need promote themselves as any business does.

    Thanks for sharing this list.

  8. 358

    I think the address should be:
    Showcase of Academic and Higher Education Websites in USA
    to be more specific
    i `d like to see about other countries too


  9. 409

    I too have to include Biola – – very good site design and custom artwork. I also have to include Crown College – very well designed undergraduate site:

  10. 460

    I think KU’s homepage is an amazing mesh of information and style.

  11. 511

    Hands down, my personal favorite:

  12. 562

    Wao….great collection & thanks for sharing.

  13. 613

    My University just went through a complete redesign, and I think it looks 110% better than it did. All the information that was sitting there has been presented in a really nice way!

  14. 664

    I think what impresses me most is how well the community colleges are doing with their MUCH smaller web departments. Washtenaw Community College, FDIM, and Northland Community stood out to me. BTW the Northland site looks better live then in screenshot. Must have made some updates.

    • 715

      Tell me about it, I’m by myself at our community college as the only web designer. I’m in the middle of a redesign but can’t get any work done because of all the requests, fixes, and non-web related tasks that are thrown my way by upper management.

  15. 766

    Our site was revamped a few years back. The homepage is very simple which I like.

    UW-Milwaukee –

  16. 817

    Where do the designers get the photos for these sites? Does the design firm hire a photographer to take new photos or are these just stock?

    • 868

      I worked on a couple of the sites in this showcase and in both cases many of the photos were taken by photographers hired by the University specifically for the website. Many of the Universities also have large photo archives on hand for marketing purposes.

      • 919

        Our college usually hires a photographer once per academic year for studio shots. Other than that we resort to myself, or other people that are some what trained in the marketing department for the pictures. You might have to sift through some crap to get something usable, but it’s not too bad.

    • 970

      Steven, many colleges use photographers like myself who are able to help institutions tell their story. Personally, the great mistake many colleges make when hiring a photographer is asking he/she to make their images look like another institution they admire. Each college or university has their own unique personality and that needs to be tapped.

  17. 1021

    Hey!! Check out
    They changed it sometime in august last year. It looks good.

  18. 1072

    Recently redesigned CSU Northridge website is at

  19. 1123

    The Oxford one is fantastic, good collection though.

  20. 1174

    Why isn’t Harvard, MIT listed?

  21. 1225

    “alice March 19th, 2010 11:33 pm
    Why isn’t Harvard, MIT listed?”
    two reasons:
    1. all articles are subject to a personal point of view
    2. to avoid legal issues with large institutions, companies, that would cost the website money :)

  22. 1276

    Come on, yet another list? I found this article had very little actual content and anyone could have easily found a bunch of college websites by finding a list of universities.

    Also, I find most of the sites here to be not spectacular. Sure they’re a lot better than other academic sites out there, but they’re just not high quality enough to really add any sort of value to the thousands of lists that already exist. So this one was worse than the usual random list I find here.

    Anybody else getting tired of lists?

  23. 1327

    Comparing university websites is a really good idea and there are some good looking sites. But I agree with some other comments, this is an American showcase only, it might be interesting what it looks like in other parts or the world.
    Also I think you show too many examples, after the 10th website I grew tired and scrolled to the end because I thought there would be some more content. But there wasn’t. Maybe it’s better to use only about 10 websites and analyze them in more detail.

  24. 1378

    nice article but there are more highschools , universities etc. on this planet.

  25. 1429

    stanford website is great also

  26. 1480

    Oh noooo! You’re forgetting Full Sail University!

  27. 1531

    The worst academic website is that of the RuG –

  28. 1582

    Not to mention Blackboard!

  29. 1633

    I’ve checked on Full Sail University floated by Josh Sadler, Carol Cox and Jeremy Buff. It has an outstanding website. The interiors well designed and organized. Easy to find info. It’s a pleasure reading. Their major draw back is the heavy use of flash. Their first page requires complete re-drawing. Too much animation will always help the user to loose focus. Funny, first page actually not offering any perspective (focus).

    • 1684

      You talk about the major draw back of Full Sail’s site being Flash. But that argument is kind of mute when you like at SCAD’s website. Their entire home page is written in Flash. Even the navigation elements. I think Full Sail has done a great job of moving away from a Flash heavy site and focusing more on the user. The push the limits in design and technology on their site, they deserve a little more love on this list….

  30. 1735

    Thank you for this roundup,
    I’m going to design a website for a school next month, this can help me really a lot.

  31. 1786


  32. 1837

    Another example of a fine layout of a college site:

  33. 1888

    Great list of examples

  34. 1939

    Auburn University is nice –

  35. 1990

    Great list, and I love it everytime seeing the art college ones, so obvious :)
    Thanks for the list

  36. 2041

    Great showcase Cameron! I don’t live in U.S but one of my favorites is the web site of Niagara University.

  37. 2092

    Whoa, you should’ve heard the complaints we got at Nebraska Wesleyan when they changed our site! Although still a little hard to navigate around it I agree with it being “one of the best looking with excellent typography”.

  38. 2143

    This is a spam comment!

  39. 2194

    Asnake Gizachew

    March 21, 2010 1:00 am

    great collection .. at least she have tried to throw a stone …. even if it show sites of US universities …. hope to see other countries experience …
    thanks a lot

  40. 2245

    Great for inspiration

  41. 2296

    What about Hanze University Groningen?

  42. 2347

    Some of the websites from the list still look like they were from the 90’s… Leeds is a personal favourite though.

    Nicest looking educational website I’ve seen so far is of the Tallinn English College: , ironically/unfortunately only available in Estonian.

  43. 2398

    All too often Education sites can be among the least attractive or even the least purposeful, so great to see the list.

    I’d suggest this site would be a worthy contender as well:

  44. 2449

    Another site worthy of consideration. Very modern for an economics department.

  45. 2500

    Gianpaolo D'Amico

    March 21, 2010 4:08 pm

    Nice list, I would like to add , the Master in Multimedia Content Design website from the University of Florence, Italy, in which we proposed a magazine-style concept in order to promote digital media giving voice to teachers, ex-students and others professionals, by means of interviews and dedicated articles about life in the classroom

  46. 2551

    Great collection you have put together. I have been waiting for a post on academic websites. I would like to see a post go into more detail about the process in developing a website for an educational institute. I have designed and managed 3 education website one being .

    A site i think would suit your list is

  47. 2602

    What about I think it’s very well designed. I’m also fond of the website for one of the university’s colleges,

  48. 2653

    This kind of post is useful. I hope you do similar posts for websites from other industries (construction, governmental, natural resources, shopping malls, etc).


    My only critique of this website is the over-usage of words like “amazing”, “fantastic” and descriptions like “excellent typography”. Most of the websites showcased throughout the posts of Smashing Magazine are not amazing and most do not have excellent typography. They are “pretty good” and “not bad” and occasionally “better than most”.

    Please sit your writing staff down, and tell them they are allowed to use the word “fantastic” once a day, “amazing” once a month, and “incredible” once a year.

  49. 2704

    For a High School website:
    designed by Josh Betz

  50. 2755

    wow really unimpressed with these designs.


↑ Back to top