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Academica: Free WordPress 3.0+ Theme For Educational Websites

In this post we release a yet another freebie: Academica WordPress Theme, a free WordPress theme designed specifically for educational websites such as universities, schools etc. It’s a flexible and versatile free theme that can be easily customized and branded for any university, academy or non-profit organization. The theme is designed by ProudThemes1 and released for Smashing Magazine and its readers. As usual, the theme is free to use in private and commerical projects.


Download the theme for free! Link

The theme is released under GPL. You can use it for all your projects for free and without any restrictions. Please link to this article if you want to spread the word. You may modify the theme as you wish.


If you want to be informed when an update to Academica theme will be released, consider signing up with ProudThemes (free)9.

Features Link

  • The theme was developed for WordPress 3.0 (compatible with 3.0.1)
  • Modern, three-column clean design
  • Setting up Academica Theme is easy and takes just a few seconds. The theme can be uploaded directly from the Dashboard > Appearance > Themes page. No need to edit any files — everything can be done from the Theme Options page.
  • 5 built-in icons to share and link to your profiles on Twitter, Flickr, Facebook, LinkedIn and Youtube
  • The theme allows enabling/disabling of a jQuery-based content slider on the homepage for showing your photos
  • Academica Theme uses a jQuery-based drop-down menu with a fade-in effect
  • 9 sidebars (widget areas) and 3 custom widgets developed for this theme
  • 3 custom page templates and 2 custom post templates
  • Dynamic image resizing (TimThumb script)
  • Support for Custom Menus (WordPress 3.0+).

Screenshots Link

Academica navigation10
Drop-down navigation menu. See live demo17151311.

Content Blocks12
Content blocks in the sidebar, defined with a custom widget. See live demo17151311.

News Archive14
News archive page. See live demo17151311

Comments area16
Comments area with threaded comments (“reply”-functionality). See live demo17151311.

Behind the design process Link

As always, here are some insights from the designers:

“Most theme developers create a lot of magazine and portfolio themes for WordPress, however the education niche is mostly ignored. We decided to do something about it, and create a flexible and versatile free theme that can be easily customized and branded for any university/academy or non-profit organization. Of course, the theme can be used in other niches as well, no restrictions or whatsoever. After reviewing a ton of web-sites of educational institutions, our eyes fell on the web-site of Massey University of New Zealand18. With a rather general layout and color palette, we decided to make the navigation and all styling pure-CSS, without any gradients, so that the theme can be customized much faster and easier.”

Thank you for your great work, guys. We appreciate your work, your time and your contributions to the design community.

Footnotes Link

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  1. 1

    Hi, the website,, is down. If you have contact info for them you might want to let them know if they are not already aware.

  2. 2

    There`s an 403 error on the demo page.


  3. 3

    live demo->dont have permission to access the index.php… i only want to view he he
    but seems to be a good theme.

    wordpressIII themes to be always good, because of the new menue feature-> makes nearly everything perfect

  4. 4

    404 Fail.

  5. 5

    Great Template

    thank you thank you thank you

  6. 6

    Demo Link is inaccessible. Please fix. Looks a great theme otherwise.

  7. 7

    Christopher Marshall

    August 29, 2010 12:15 pm

    preview dosen’t work damn it

  8. 9

    Theme and logo files download fine, 403 on the Proud Themes index : (
    Thanks for the heads up, hope the problems get sorted soon.

  9. 10


  10. 12

    Love the theme, will definitely use it for upcoming projects. Thanks for sharing :-)

  11. 13

    Oh, this one looks really nice. i like the white space and the integration of timthumb is very clever, so that contributors don’t have to worry about including pictures in the right size.

  12. 14

    Awesome! thanks :)

  13. 15

    I’m going to use it to set up an online state university — Psychotic State! ;)

    Basically you pick a major and print out a diploma.

    – Dr. Speider

  14. 17

    It is a piece of CRAP!!!!

  15. 18

    Good copy lol :p

  16. 19

    Pretty foy my school,thanks!

  17. 20

    Looks gorgeous simple and clean.

  18. 21

    Matthew Wehrly

    August 29, 2010 10:02 pm

    The theme looks very clean. Would be nice to see some integration with some of the wordpress 3 capabilities (menu descriptions) and what not. Nice theme, thanks to the author for the post and to ProudThemes for creating it.


  19. 22

    Great theme. Nice color scheme. Really fits the School/Uni look.
    @Vitaly I think SM popularity killed their server.

  20. 24

    Uh, great theme, thanks a lot!

  21. 25

    I’am not too much experienced with wordpress solutions, and i have to ask, where and how to apply the “News archive Page” shown in this article? I can’t find any functionality similar to it.

    • 26

      me too have the same problem and there are no perfectly useful plugins to over ride this problem too..

  22. 27

    Hmm there is a error on the page!

  23. 28

    Great themes, thank you for sharing this :)

  24. 29

    Yasen Vasilev

    August 30, 2010 12:28 pm

    Sweet of you to share it! I love it!

  25. 30

    nice theme, thanks for it

  26. 31

    This looks scarily familiar to my own University home page:

    Check it out:

  27. 32

    Awesome theme… Thanks SMG… You guys rock…

  28. 33

    Thanks for this theme, which helped me save few dollars.

  29. 34

    Thanks for sharing designs for higher education. HE is an interesting market with several different needs to fill and appease (Gen Y students, Gen X staff, administrators, patrons, parents, community…) it is hard to find inspiration and resources that fit the bill.


  30. 35

    Angelo Beltran

    September 2, 2010 9:40 pm

    Exactly what I was looking for. Cheers!

  31. 36

    dan pantinople

    September 2, 2010 9:53 pm

    Awesome theme, im planning to use on my next project..but ive got a small problem with the slideshow gallery…it doesnt show on the first’d have to press home for it to show..also when you press REFRESH, the slideshow disappears again..any help?

  32. 37

    You guys are absolutely brilliant. I’m honestly eating crow right now. Just the other day, I left a comment somewhere that it was impossible to get .edu backlinks unless you had a formal affiliation with a university. You proved me wrong, nicely done!

  33. 38

    Anyone else having MAJOR display issues with this theme? It’s very elegant… at least the screenshots are. This theme on top of a fresh installation of WP 3.0 has broken styles. The top nav is all weird, the search box is borked. Is it just me?

    Otherwise, it’s gorgeous. Umm… help?

    • 39

      I found the search to be the only borked part, once you start filling in content. I think you might have to have some social icon to push it into the right place.

  34. 40

    As far as screen shots go, this is a very nice theme. I am also having major issues with the display on the home page…

  35. 41

    capi /. etheriel

    October 6, 2010 10:49 am

    are you sure this theme is released under gpl? its website tries to sell it, as if you couldn’t already use it. it doesn’t mention donation, it says buy/license.

    • 42

      I think it’s for purchase if you want to have support from ProudThemes, or want to have the PSD files.

  36. 43

    Thank very much for information

  37. 44

    I uploaded it and activated the theme, but some of the styling and CSS is really off… :/
    Here’s a screenshot:

    • 45

      The styling kicks in when it finds content in the right place. The top menu shows up properly once you go to appearance>menus and add a menu. You also need to set a page for it to use for the homepage.

      I haven’t fully fiddled with it, but that should help get you started.

  38. 46

    Angelo Beltran

    October 12, 2010 4:45 pm

    For those hosting wordpress in a windows environment, If your scrolling banner is not working, you need to enable the GD library by accessing your php.ini file and uncommenting extension=php_gd2.dll

    Hope this helps!

  39. 47

    I have used this them. But i have a problem.
    Everything works well but when
    I add Custom Menu widget on “Sidebar: Pages (Left) ”
    and Sidebar: Posts (Left)

    It is nowt showing another pages…
    Now widget is working for Sidebar: Pages, Posts

    How i can solve this.

  40. 48

    Hello. This Theme is great, just what I wanted for my current project. But I have a problem with the nivo slider. I go to Proud Themes > theme options > HOmepage Stettings and adding there linkt to my slider files e.g., and nothing happenes. I am getting just a white recktangular in the place where the slideshow suppose to be. The site I am working with ad the moment is
    Can anybodey hepl me to solve this problem?!

    • 49

      Hi thanks for themes, I m also facing the same problems, on my localhost theme is working properly but when i try to use its slider show on my web server. it does not run. pls. help.

    • 50

      I see you managed to get around the slider problem and its working now on the website. Can you share how you did that? I’m having the same problem.Thanks

    • 51

      Levon, try to change your images sizes. I had the same problem and now it’s working. The problem now is that the slider does not show the images sometimes, specially in Chrome and FF.

    • 52

      I have the same problem with the nivo slider. Don´t work and images do not appear.
      I changed the images sizes but does not work.
      anyone has the solution?

    • 53

      I am using WP Multi-site so using the absolute path was causing issues. I just had to remove the first part of the path so that only “files/2011/09/mainImage-01.jpg” was being used for the input.

  41. 55

    Could someone help me out here with this theme. I have been stuck for days trying to insert my logo and I cannot. I had a deliverable which now I can not meet. Anyone willing to help — please get me out of this misery

  42. 57

    Thanks for the free theme! I used a modified version for my church’s website:

    I made minor changes throughout the website but I did make a few bigger changes. First, I changed the location of the header logo and menu to (hopefully) make the menu more prominent. I was also having trouble with the built in image slider so instead I used the wordpress plugin Easing Slider. Finally, I changed all the fonts to Georgia because I like the look.

    • 58

      Good job, I’m starting to customize … I’m new to this in word press but it is not easy … I hope I have much experience does a good job like yours …

      Greetings,,,, atte. Ngl

    • 59

      Looks great! I am also having problems with the slider too.. Thanks for the suggestion!

  43. 60

    Website Developers USA

    January 21, 2011 3:42 am

    Go for It…!

  44. 61

    I need the database on this subject, for when we downloaded this theme, the version comes with the clean bench, this is obviuos.
    but can someone availability to the db?

  45. 62

    A clean designed theme. Thanks a lot!

  46. 63

    Having problems with the slider, when I put the image on there it just comes up with a blank space and no image, any one had this problem and got around it? Or any idea how I can fix? Thanks

  47. 64

    Make the search box 250 px instead of 240 px to make it display properly.

  48. 65

    have trouble displaying posts in pages; is there any work around ?

  49. 66


    I am using Academica theme and have created a seperate wordpress folder in my root directory containing all the files and folders related to wordpress except for wp-config.php and index.php which exist directly on the root directory. The problem is when I go to the widgets section and try to work any widget under the “Sidebar : Homepage (left/right)”…..while keeping my site’s static homepage’s template to ‘default’ nothing changes on my site’s homepage…I do not see anything in the sidebars at all…no widgets. It’s only if I select a widget to be kept under “Sidebar : Pages (left/right)”… when I see the widget working!….Why is my site not recognizing index.php and going straight to page.php or whatever the issue is???

    Also can anyone please tell me that how can I make my top-horizontal menu items to spread evenly and increase the width of the drop down panel to fit according to the content???

    Pleaseeeee help.

    Thank you….

    • 67

      Your first question is not clear, I dont understand it. Your second question – you can edit your menu styling by editing style.css, it is in wp-content/themes/academica/ . For example, I edited this theme and made my own theme

  50. 68

    one of the best themes ever. Thank you :)

  51. 69

    the academica themes slide show is not working please help my site address is please preview the demo and my site and help the slideshow is a great asscet to my site
    thanks in advance

  52. 70

    I like this this
    It is remarkable, rather valuable message


  53. 71

    i’ve been trying to activate the academica theme on wordpress but it keeps on saying that it’s missing a style sheet…Can anyone help me please, i really like this theme for my project.
    thanks in advance

  54. 72

    Slideshow images must be 960 x 300 to display, this is what is causing your “white block” issue.

    • 73

      My images are set to 960×300 and I still get the white box. Any ideas?

    • 74

      I found my issue. I am using WP Multi-site so using the absolute path was causing issues. I just had to remove the first part of the path so that only “files/2011/09/mainImage-01.jpg” was being used for the input.

    • 75

      Me too!

  55. 76

    Nica - The Virtual Assistant

    September 30, 2011 12:27 am

    I am trying to use the theme for my tutorial center. But I am having problems with the top most menu. can someone tell me what’s wrong?

  56. 77

    I want to remove the left sidebar from home page, and increase the width of content area, so that no empty space is left at the left side after removing bar. Can anyone please advise, how to do it?

  57. 79

    hey you guys. great theme!
    so we have a project in school and wanna use this theme. is it possible to disable the right sidebar and use it for the content from the middle?

  58. 80

    when i upload the gallery with 7 images, only one is shown….idk what im doing wrong….please help

  59. 81

    Really excited to work with this theme. Unfortunately, I can not get any of the Homepage Options to work the slideshow or the static page selected. I tried WP 3.0 then upgraded to the current version. Nothing works. Any troubleshooting suggestions?

    • 82

      I initiallly used Simple Scripts in the cPanel to install WP. Well, I deleted the install then installed WP and the Academia theme MANUALLY!!!…and now everything works fine… I have a great project underway, I’ll be back to show you later!

  60. 83

    I have a problem with this theme.

    my website is The slide show in my homepage (top of the homepage) works properly, but when I’m clicking the “home” from the top menu, It disappears.

    any idea?

  61. 84

    I found the solution
    First I added a new page (name : test) and set it as homepage (ProudThemes>Homepage Setting). then activated the slide show and fed it with my pictures. Then in menu setting I just added a “custom link” to with label name “Home”. So when somebody clicking the “Home: in my menu, it goes to

    Simple !

  62. 85

    Hy, please tell me, how to put the blog page as homepage, in Academica theme? Thanks!

  63. 86

    Does anyone know the trick to setting up the “news” page? Do the theme creators expect you to insert your own loops for posts? I don’t see anywhere in the theme options where you can designate certain pages to be blog pages. Nor is there a page template for that purpose. You’d think that since it’s in the demo that it would be available out of the box in the theme!

    Maybe it’s just their way of trying to get you to fork over cash.

  64. 87

    Has anyone been able to successfully remove the search boxes?

  65. 88

    Nice theme for educational website.

  66. 89

    Great information !! Education is the most important in human life.


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