Mostly sunny. High 59F. Winds light and variable..
Partly cloudy skies this evening will become overcast overnight. Low 38F. Winds light and variable.
Updated: January 28, 2023 @ 11:23 am
Using 2023 data released by Niche, Stacker compiled a list of colleges and universities with the best party scene in each state and Washington D.C.
Many schools tout their high average GPAs, beautiful campuses, or competitive admission rates. However, few can boast a rich campus social life as a truly distinguishing feature. While academic rigor is arguably one of the most important facets of college life, four years of all work and no play can take a tremendous toll on some students. In fact, taking regular breaks from work has been shown to boost productivity—within good reason, of course.
Colleges and universities across America faced many changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including significant impacts on students' social lives. According to a June 2021 report from the National Center for Education Statistics, an astounding 84% of undergraduates had some, if not all, of their courses shifted to remote learning in the spring of 2020. When students returned to campus for in-person instruction, social distancing and quarantines continued to affect the typical collegiate social scene. But now that pandemic-related restrictions have largely eased, students are ready to party again.
Using data released by Niche in December 2022, Stacker compiled a list revealing the colleges and universities with the best party scene in each state and Washington D.C. Factors in this 2023 ranking are access to nightlife, athletic culture, and Greek life, as well as student polling data. For each school, Stacker also included the national party scene rank, location, acceptance rate, and net price (average annual cost for a student to attend, after financial aid). States are listed in alphabetical order.
See which school in your state was ranked highest for its ability to play hard (and in some cases, work hard as well).
You may also like: Biggest HBCUs in America
- National party scene rank: #4
- Location: Tuscaloosa, AL
- Acceptance rate: 80%
- Net price: $20,518
The best parties at the University of Alabama are built on two pillars: Greek life and Alabama Crimson Tide football. Tailgating is a popular game day activity and UA has boasted the largest fraternity and sorority memberships in the U.S. since 2011.
- National party scene rank: #775
- Location: Juneau, AK
- Acceptance rate: 64%
- Net price: $10,506
Overlooking a lake in Juneau, University of Alaska Southeast's beautiful campus is the perfect backdrop to let loose. However, when it comes to the national average, Alaska's schools are relatively low-key partiers. Students in Alaska tend to revolve their social activities around taking advantage of the outdoors (perhaps taking a few beers with them for the campfire).
- National party scene rank: #42
- Location: Tucson, AZ
- Acceptance rate: 85%
- Net price: $15,620
According to a poll of University of Arizona students, football games against rival Arizona State University generate the biggest annual bashes. A close second is the school's huge pool parties, which are so legendary they're the reason former NFL player Rob Gronkowski decided to attend this university.
- National party scene rank: #60
- Location: Fayetteville, AR
- Acceptance rate: 78%
- Net price: $16,759
Going out is a regular occurrence at the University of Arkansas, and there tends to be a range of options for students. Most of the biggest parties, like Row Week, happen during the latter half of the week through the weekend around the fraternity houses.
- National party scene rank: #1
- Location: Santa Barbara, CA
- Acceptance rate: 37%
- Net price: $17,223
The University of California's Santa Barbara campus, located on the beautiful California coast, promotes having a good time year-round. However, two annual celebrations make this university stand out as the best party school in America: Deltopia, a wild spring break street party, and Halloween, where both the community and school offer long lists of events.
You may also like: Best private colleges in America
- National party scene rank: #25
- Location: Boulder, CO
- Acceptance rate: 84%
- Net price: $21,198
St. Patrick's Day and Halloween are two huge party holidays at the University of Colorado - Boulder. For over 10 years, marijuana has been legalized for recreational use in the state, so it's no surprise students also love to celebrate the unofficial cannabis holiday known as 4/20.
- National party scene rank: #67
- Location: New Haven, CT
- Acceptance rate: 7%
- Net price: $17,511
Just because it's an Ivy League school doesn't mean it doesn't know how to party. The academically rigorous university is Connecticut's biggest party school, with flagship events such as Spring Fling, where big-name artists like A$AP Ferg perform. One of the school's biggest events, the 80s-themed "Safety Dance," was even canceled in 2012 because it became too rowdy.
- National party scene rank: #30
- Location: Newark, DE
- Acceptance rate: 66%
- Net price: $19,747
Delaware may be one of the smallest states, but its ability to throw a good party shouldn't be underestimated. The University of Delaware has an A+ party scene grade, thanks to events like St. Patrick's Day, UDance, and homecoming weekend.
- National party scene rank: #3
- Location: Tallahassee, FL
- Acceptance rate: 32%
- Net price: $12,815
Florida State University's social scene revolves mainly around Greek life and sports—with football game days being the rallying points. Students love to tailgate and party when ESPN College Game Day broadcasts its show at the school.
- National party scene rank: #7
- Location: Athens, GA
- Acceptance rate: 48%
- Net price: $16,580
University of Georgia not only knows how to throw down by Georgia's standards, but by national standards as well. The biggest parties revolve around the weekends in which the Bulldogs go head-to-head with rivals such as the University of Florida Gators.
You may also like: Can you pass this 8th grade assessment test?
- National party scene rank: #482
- Location: Honolulu, HI
- Net price: $15,193
Parties aren't what they used to be at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where annual Floatopia parties—imagine an ocean full of people in floaties—and Pro Bowl parties were all the rage. The Pro Bowl hasn't been played in Hawaii since 2016, but the school hosted a fun welcome-back foam party in fall 2022 and nearly one-fifth of UH Manoa students polled say there are many party options throughout the week.
- National party scene rank: #145
- Location: Moscow, ID
- Acceptance rate: 74%
- Net price: $14,929
At the University of Idaho, weekly celebrations tend to start on Wednesdays, raging on through the weekend. Homecoming in the fall is the biggest event, and second come certain signature frat parties, like Mardi Gras, Jock Jams, and Beta Rave.
- National party scene rank: #10
- Location: Urbana, IL
- Acceptance rate: 63%
- Net price: $13,517
Although students report plenty of parties on any given week, the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign is known for one annual event in particular: Unofficial. For over 20 years, this has been UIUC's unofficial St. Patrick's Day celebration, as the real holiday typically falls over spring break when undergrads are away from campus. Students celebrate Unofficial by wearing green, hosting tons of parties, and hitting up local bars.
- National party scene rank: #16
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Net price: $13,191
Students at Indiana University - Bloomington look forward to the famous "Little 500" every year, in which people compete in relay races on bicycles. It's a big sporting event that rallies students and even residents of the surrounding area.
- National party scene rank: #17
- Location: Iowa City, IA
- Net price: $17,452
When the Iowa versus Iowa State football game comes around, students at the University of Iowa take tailgating just as seriously as the sports event itself.
You may also like: How student debt has grown in every state
- National party scene rank: #36
- Location: Lawrence, KS
- Acceptance rate: 91%
- Net price: $20,054
March Madness holds true for students at the University of Kansas in particular, thanks to the school's wildly successful basketball team. The team has appeared in the tournament consistently every year for the last 32 years, so basketball season usually invites much cause for celebration.
- National party scene rank: #79
- Location: Lexington, KY
- Acceptance rate: 96%
- Net price: $19,831
Much like their University of Kansas counterparts, University of Kentucky Wildcats fans love to party around basketball season. The team has been in the Final Four 17 times, with its last win in 2015. March Madness on State Street is usually where the festivities are held.
- National party scene rank: #2
- Location: New Orleans, LA
- Acceptance rate: 11%
- Net price: $47,413
Tulane University students can find parties almost every day of the week, but no celebration tops that of Mardi Gras, where students join locals for parades, bead-throwing, and King Cake-eating.
- National party scene rank: #166
- Location: Orono, ME
- Acceptance rate: 92%
- Net price: $16,365
When it comes to the party scene at the University of Maine, giving back is key. The school's biggest event, Maine Day, includes a barbecue and parade. Maine Day also includes service projects for students, staff, and alumni to participate in.
- National party scene rank: #59
- Location: Baltimore, MD
- Net price: $16,651
The most popular parties at Morgan State University center around celebrating the school itself. In the fall, Homecoming Week is chock full of events like pep rallies, parades, a Homecoming Gala, and the homecoming football game. In the spring, I Love Morgan Week recognizes student achievements with fun celebrations like concerts and carnivals.
You may also like: Best private high school in every state
- National party scene rank: #45
- Location: Amherst, MA
- Acceptance rate: 65%
- Net price: $22,505
The University of Massachusetts - Amherst is best known for The Blarney Blowout, a weekend of epic house parties all across town in early celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Halloween weekend, or "Halloweekend," also brings a full slate of campus-sponsored events. Campus dining halls even host a lobster dinner for students to take advantage of before heading out to party.
- National party scene rank: #20
- Location: East Lansing, MI
- Acceptance rate: 76%
- Net price: $16,655
From Wednesday through Saturday, students can find parties of all kinds and sizes at Michigan State University. Few, however, can rival MSU's celebrations around their games against rival University of Michigan.
- National party scene rank: #56
- Location: Minneapolis, MN
- Acceptance rate: 70%
- Net price: $17,729
For over 100 years, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities students and alumni have enjoyed a week's worth of parties and activities during Homecoming. Spring Jam is also a popular one-day campus-sponsored event offering music, rides, food, and fun for students and the surrounding community.
- National party scene rank: #13
- Location: University , MS
- Acceptance rate: 88%
- Net price: $13,540
Students at the University of Mississippi love their varsity sports teams and nearly half of those polled say football season brings the best parties. Greek life is also popular at Ole Miss, especially when the weather turns warm and fraternities throw spring parties with themes like Woodstock and Groundhog Day.
- National party scene rank: #53
- Location: Columbia, MO
- Acceptance rate: 82%
- Net price: $16,930
Partying at Mizzou starts early, with Syllabus Week kicking off the debauchery on campus. This is the time in which classes first start, so teachers usually hand out syllabuses for the semester and end class early. Homecoming is also a popular time to get rowdy.
You may also like: Most liberal colleges in America
- National party scene rank: #254
- Location: Bozeman, MT
- Acceptance rate: 81%
- Net price: $17,656
The annual football game against rival University of Montana—known to students as Cat-Griz based on the school mascots—tops the list of best Montana State University parties. With the school's location in the northern Rocky Mountains, it's also no surprise students love to hit the slopes—perhaps have a beverage to warm them up afterwards.
- National party scene rank: #116
- Location: Lincoln, NE
- Net price: $17,341
The University of Nebraska - Lincoln gets most excited about football games, Halloween, and their homecoming parade. However, students can find some celebration or another throughout the week.
- National party scene rank: #163
- Location: Reno, NV
- Acceptance rate: 87%
- Net price: $16,359
When the University of Nevada - Reno goes up against the University of Nevada - Las Vegas for their annual football showdown, parties erupt all around campus. Despite the fact that UNLV had kept possession of the Fremont Cannon for several straight years, the Reno Wolf Pack still shows up to flaunt their school spirit.
- National party scene rank: #129
- Location: Durham, NH
- Net price: $24,847
Despite past concerns about students taking things too far and appropriating Mexican culture, nearly half of University of New Hampshire students surveyed report Cinco de Mayo remains the biggest party of the year. Varsity sports are also popular on campus, making homecoming another top annual event.
- National party scene rank: #24
- Location: Piscataway, NJ
- Acceptance rate: 67%
- Net price: $17,835
Like many other schools, students at Rutgers party hard on football game days and Halloween. Rutgers Day, a celebration highlighting university accomplishments, also tops the school's list of best parties. This event occurs annually on the last day of April and includes food, live music, and many other exhibits.
You may also like: 2-year degrees that can earn you the most money
- National party scene rank: #250
- Location: Las Cruces, NM
- Net price: $11,467
Students at New Mexico State University love to cheer on their Aggies. On football game days—especially those against rivals University of New Mexico and University of Texas at El Paso—tailgating is the most popular way to party.
- National party scene rank: #8
- Location: Syracuse, NY
- Acceptance rate: 69%
- Net price: $47,177
The biggest annual student party at New York's Syracuse University is Mayfest, a giant outdoor concert held in the spring. In the fall, Syracuse rings in the new school year with Juice Jam, another large concert.
- National party scene rank: #47
- Location: Greensboro, NC
- Acceptance rate: 57%
- Net price: $9,541
Homecoming is huge for North Carolina A&T State University students, with a packed calendar making it the best party of the year. Along with the typical pep rallies and football game, Homecoming Week offers events like step shows, concerts, a fashion show, and the "Gym Jam," a massive party held in the school's basketball arena.
- National party scene rank: #119
- Location: Grand Forks, ND
- Net price: $16,780
Hockey is a popular sport at UND and big game days make for great parties. Students cheer on their Fighting Hawks against rival team the Minnesota Gophers and get really amped when the team makes the Frozen Four, the annual NCAA men's hockey semifinals.
- National party scene rank: #14
- Location: Athens, OH
- Net price: $23,307
Fest Season at Ohio University is a spring party tradition over multiple weekends. Beginning early in the morning and lasting all day, the events range from house parties to street parties such as High Fest and Congo Fest. Sadly, the huge concert lineup known as #Fest (The Number Fest) was shuttered in 2020.
You may also like: Best boarding schools in America
- National party scene rank: #33
- Location: Norman, OK
- Acceptance rate: 83%
- Net price: $21,836
At the University of Oklahoma, school spirit runs strong, with Greek life and football dominating the social scenes. Students start festivities early with "Thirsty Thursdays" before their weekends even start.
- National party scene rank: #80
- Location: Eugene, OR
- Net price: $17,646
Partying in the Pacific Northwest is done best at the University of Oregon, where students rally around Civil War, the aptly named football game against rival Ohio State University. Students also participate in Whistler College Weekend, a popular Canadian ski trip.
- National party scene rank: #12
- Location: University Park, PA
- Acceptance rate: 56%
- Net price: $26,151
Though football is usually cause for celebration at Penn State, the school also loves to celebrate St. Patrick's Day in the form of State Patty's, where students flock to local bars to day-drink.
- National party scene rank: #111
- Location: Providence, RI
- Acceptance rate: 54%
- Net price: $37,284
Providence may be home to an Ivy League school (that would be Brown University), but it's also home to Providence College, which holds the title of the best party-scene in the smallest state. Students get especially rowdy at Golf Party, a day when students dress in their finest pastels and flood Eaton Street for all-day celebrations.
- National party scene rank: #26
- Location: Columbia, SC
- Acceptance rate: 68%
- Net price: $21,784
Ahead of the Gamecocks' annual game against rival Clemson, students at the University of South Carolina gather for Tiger Burn, a rally and party where students set a giant Clemson tiger ablaze.
You may also like: How diverse are the 10 most selective universities?
- National party scene rank: #130
- Location: Vermillion, SD
- Net price: $18,480
Besides Greek Life, pride at University of South Dakota is showcased during the weeklong campus tradition, Dakota Days. Students participate in a parade and many night parties during D-Days (also known among students as Hate State Week—a dig against their rivals at South Dakota State University).
- National party scene rank: #31
- Location: Nashville, TN
- Acceptance rate: 12%
- Net price: $25,804
Every spring since 1971, Vanderbilt University's Rites of Spring has rallied students together for fun and star-studded slates of musical performances from some of the top artists in rock, indie, hip hop, and rap.
- National party scene rank: #21
- Location: Austin, TX
- Net price: $16,892
During RoundUp weekend, Greek fraternities and sororities at the University of Texas - Austin host the biggest parties and performers at their houses. Students can also delight in crawfish boils per Southern tradition.
- National party scene rank: #240
- Location: Salt Lake City, UT
- Acceptance rate: 79%
- Net price: $12,881
University of Utah's Crimson Nights bring students together during the first week of school. Students host parties, participate in school-sponsored activities, and get free food. Students also tend to party before the big football game against Brigham Young University, dubbed the "Holy War."
- National party scene rank: #195
- Location: Burlington, VT
- Acceptance rate: 71%
- Net price: $20,235
Students at the University of Vermont have a unique way of celebrating the semester's end: the Naked Bike Ride. On the night before final exams begin, students gather to take off their clothes and cycle around campus. Equally as popular, many students gather on the Redstone Campus at 4:20 p.m. on April 20 to celebrate the unofficial marijuana holiday by—you guessed it—smoking together.
You may also like: 25 oldest colleges in America
- National party scene rank: #23
- Location: Charlottesville, VA
- Acceptance rate: 23%
- Net price: $19,043
At the University of Virginia, Foxfield Races reigns king of all celebrations. The bi-annual event features students breaking out their preppiest attire and partying before the horse races at Foxfield get underway.
- National party scene rank: #5
- Location: Washington D.C.
- Acceptance rate: 39%
- Net price: $23,233
Over 60% of students surveyed say Howard University has plenty of options for those looking to party Wednesday through Saturday. Homecoming is hands down the most popular time of year for parties at Howard. The university fills the week's schedule with fun events ranging from bar crawls and block parties to step shows and a day of service.
- National party scene rank: #41
- Location: Pullman, WA
- Net price: $17,931
At Washington State University, Halloween is such a big social event that it has turned into "Halloweek," where students dress up in different costumes every day and prolong the holiday as long as they can.
- National party scene rank: #11
- Location: Morgantown, WV
- Net price: $13,087
Students are welcomed to the West Virginia University campus each fall with FallFest, a large gathering where people can enjoy concerts, film marathons, and dance parties.
- National party scene rank: #6
- Location: Madison, WI
- Net price: $14,030
The University of Wisconsin has a special Halloween tradition in the form of Freak Fest. Students buy tickets and gather on Madison's State Street for the area's largest Halloween party and music festival. Unfortunately, the pandemic shut down the fest in 2020, 2021, and 2022, and it's future is in jeopardy.
You may also like: 50 best college movies
- National party scene rank: #245
- Location: Laramie, WY
- Acceptance rate: 94%
- Net price: $12,224
During the weekend, the University of Wyoming has parties that range from house bashes to large-scale frat parties. Students get especially rowdy around homecoming, Halloween, and finals week.
Originally published on stacker.com, part of the TownNews Content Exchange.
Stacker compiled a list of the best public colleges in every state using Niche's 2023 Top Pu…
As state education budgets ebb and flow, so do collegiate rankings. Stacker studied Niche's …
Get up-to-the-minute news sent straight to your device.