Where To Go To College Near Water

Updated February 6, 2023

In America, there is a group of schools that combine marine sciences with outdoor ocean activities, and

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Deciding where to go to college is an immense part of the fun for any high school graduate who’s making the leap to higher education. The world opens up to students, letting them decide the next chapter of their lives.

For students who are avid water sports fans, or who want to go into marine biology, aquaculture, or oceanography, there is one requirement—the school must be near water. A school near the ocean will undoubtedly have resources, programs, and even clubs that combine a love of the water with learning, and so this is where the journey for dedicated students begins.

In America, there is a group of schools that combine marine sciences with outdoor ocean activities, and because of this, they are the schools ocean-loving students must look to first. From large public institutions to smaller private colleges, they are all listed here for a student’s convenience.

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To assist in find which oceanside school is your best fit, we have compiled our annual list of the 50 Top Oceanside Colleges. We have ranked these 50 schools by their Return On Investment, because studying on the beach is no reason not to also get a good education for your money.

  1. Yale University

    New Haven, CT



    Covering 8,000 acres of land, including seven forests and a nature preserve on Horse Island, Yale is a school for nature lovers. The school is a stone’s throw from New York City and is located near the New Haven Harbor overlooking the Long Island Sound, is home to a world-class rowing team and other water sports, ensuring that the changing seasons always bring something exciting to campus residents.

  2. Bowdoin College

    Brunswick, ME



    Consistently named one of the top five liberal arts college in the country, Bowdoin College is located in Brunswick, Maine, that sits at the North end of Casco Bay, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. But far from being just a place to study, the school is well known for the Outing Club, which hosts canoeing, rafting, and kayaking trips throughout the year, taking advantage of not only the great scenery but the perfect seasonal weather.

  3. University of California-Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA



    Located on the coast of the San Francisco Bay area, the University of California at Berkeley is the oldest institution that comprises the California university system. For over a decade, it has been named one of the top universities in the world and is renown as a public research university. For incoming students, however, the university is best loved for its Mediterranean climate, the Berkeley Marina, and the surfing spots that make up the coast.

  4. The Citadel

    Charleston, SC



    The Citadel, located in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of six senior military colleges in the US. The campus is situated between the Ashley and Cooper Rivers and enjoys a subtropical climate. Students enjoy the sailing club, and for cadets who want to enter the Coast Guard, The Citadel offers specialized training.

  5. Loyola Marymount University

    Los Angeles, CA



    Located in the Westchester, Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University is a private religious university that is home to the famous Loyola Law School. The campus is just east of the Pacific Ocean and Playa del Rey, where many students take time out from their studies to take paddleboarding classes, visit the Santa Monica boardwalk, and partake in the sunny Southern California weather.

  6. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

    San Luis Obispo, CA



    The 2nd largest land-owning university in the US, this university is most commonly referred to as Cal Poly and covers close to 10,000 acres in San Luis Obispo County. Only 11 miles from the Pacific Ocean, Cal Poly offers students educational opportunities for marine research as well as access to waterfront activities such as sailing and rowing.

  7. University of Washington-Seattle Campus

    Seattle, WA



    Nestled in the Puget Sound, the University of Washington is based in Seattle, Washington and is the oldest university on the West Coast. Students who study here are treated to mild weather all year long and have a variety of activities to help them relax from campus life, such as Seattle’s robust music scene and the kayaking and sailing competitions that occur year-round.

  8. University of California-​Irvine

    Irvine, CA



    The University of California in Irvine is located in Orange County, California, and is considered a public ivy university with a high research activity rate. Students from all over the world come to study here, not just for the Mediterranean climate and the close proximity to the Pacific Ocean, but also for the variety of nature preserves and parks. The university hosts rowing, sailing, and other waterfront activities, as well as providing students with educational opportunities relating to marine biology.

  9. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA



    A private, Churches of Christ-affiliated research university, Pepperdine is located in Malibu, California, with courses taught internationally. Overlooking the Pacific Coast Highway, the campus boasts views of Long Beach and Catalina Island, just a few miles down the highway, making for great day trips for students. Not to be outdone, the Pacific Ocean is just beckoning would-be surfers and swimmers to take time away from studies to enjoy the Southern California sunshine.

  10. University of California-San Diego

    La Jolla, CA



    No university other than the University of California in San Diego can boast a short walk down to one of the West Coast’s best surfing spots, Black Beach. Surfing is such a huge part of the university that it even has its own surf team. When students are done playing on the beach, it’s just a short walk back to the La Jolla campus for a world-class education.

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