The Real Campuses Behind The Top 19 College Movies Of All Time

If you’ve been to college then you love college movies, no matter what. Anything that reminds you of getting wasted, hitting on girls or even being late for class has a special place in your student-heart. But where did the production crews venture to make these college classics? Why, actual colleges, of course! To give you a behind-the-scenes look, we’ve compiled found all the real campuses behind the best college films of all time.


Sometimes being mediocre is the only way to go, which is the entire basis for this movie: create a fake college, with slacker classes, so you don’t have to actually make anything of yourself. That’s all this movie is about–getting ahead through an excellent, if confounded, plan. Oh yeah, and girls and partying, but did we even need to mention that?

Movie Campus: South Harmon Institute of Technology (”S.H.I.T.”)

Actual Campus(es):

• Chapman University; Orange, California, USA

Good Will Hunting

For some reason, working-class, secret geniuses make for a good movie-watching experience. Robin Williams is awesome and Matt Damon’s struggling character has us with him all the way. The Damon-Affleck duo might be gone these days, but this classic reminds us all of the good ol’ times.

Movie Campus: MIT

Actual Campus(es):

• Harvard Square’s Bow & Arrow Pub, The Tasty; Cambridge, Mass.
• Harvard University’s Dunster House (exterior); Cambridge, Mass.
• Bunker Hill Community College; Boston, Mass.
• Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Cambridge, Mass.
• University of Toronto (dorm scenes); Toronto, Ontario


If you take nothing else away from college, make sure to learn a good scam. In Slackers, pulling a fast one is Dave, Sam and Jeff’s ticket to the top, until Ethan figures out their schemes, giving them a heaping pile of blackmail–and tries to get the hot girl in the process. The love story sucks, but the rest is good enough to carry you through.

Movie Campus: Holden University

Actual Campus(es):

• University of California; Riverside; Riverside, California
• University of Redlands; Redlands, California

Van Wilder

A reluctant coming-of-age tale, Van Wilder combines all the best of college–hot girls, huge parties and endless shananigans. Plus, you get to see Tara Reid before she turned into a plasticly, haggard hose-beast. Shot mostly in at Marymount High School and UCLA’s Royce Hall, this feel-good laugh-fest will have you rolling.

Movie Campus: Coolidge College

Actual Campus(es):

• Marymount High School; Los Angeles, California
• UCLA’s Royce Hall; Los Angeles, California

Back to School

Comic genius Rodney Dangerfield’s character Thorton may have a chain of successful Tall and Fat clothing stores, but that doesn’t stop him from joining his son at college–and buying his way through the whole thing. Filming for this one took place at UCLA and the University of Wisconsin.

Movie Campus: Grand Lakes University

Actual Campus(es):

• UCLA; Los Angeles, California
• University of Wisconsin; Madison, Wisconsin

Beautiful Mind

When we think of Russell Crowe, the first movies that come to mind are Gladiator and Romper Stomper–fear instilling flicks that make you wish you were 100-times more badass than you actually are. Beautiful Mind, on the other hand, proved that Crowe can do more than just whoop people’s asses.

Movie Campus: Princeton University

Actual Campus(es):

• Bronx Community College (MIT scenes); Bronx, New York City
• Fairleigh Dickinson University; Madison, New Jersey
• Fordham University; Bronx, New York City
• Manhattan College (Harvard scenes); Manhattan, New York City

 Road Trip

Not since Jack Kerouac wrote On The Road did a travel story make us want to drop everything and see all that elsewhere had to offer-especially if that something includes college chicks and drinking. But the best thing about this movie is Tom Green’s hilarious debacles. Unleash the fury, Mitch. Unleash the fury…

Movie Campus: University of Ithaca

Actual Campus(es):

• University of Texas; Austin, Texas
• Emory University; Atlanta, Georgia
• Georgia Institute of Technology; Atlanta, Georgia
• Harvard University; Cambridge, Mass.
• University of Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee
• University of Georgia


He might be small, but he’s got heart–or at least the balls to bust his ass and get onto the Notre Dame football team for which this rascal has a borderline obsession. Obviously intended to be set at Notre Dame, primary filming took place at the College of the Holy Cross. Not exactly the same, but Christian enough to be close.

Movie Campus: University of Notre Dame

Actual Campus(es):

• Holy Cross College; South Bend, Indiana
• University of Notre Dame; South Bend, Indiana


People in marching band aren’t exactly known for being cool. That is they weren’t until Nick Cannon laid down some badass licks, showing that even if you have to wear a uniform and a funny hat at football games, it doesn’t mean you’re a pu**y.

Movie Campus: HBCU Atlanta A&T University

Actual Campus(es):

• Clark Atlanta University; Atlanta, Georgia
• Morris Brown College; Atlanta, Georgia

Breaking Away

Breaking Away’s main character Dave, played by Dennis Christopher, must beat out his nemesis, the French bicycle team to regain his self-respect. More than just a mindless college flick, this film won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1979 for its story about coming of age and sticking to your guns.

Movie Campus: Indiana University

Actual Campus(es):

• Indiana University; Bloomington, Indiana

 We are Marshall

Arguably one of the best sports movies of all time, this story of overcoming odds brings tears to anyone with a soul–ok, maybe not tears, but at least an emotional understanding that those football players have heart. Though some filming took place at Marshall University in West Virginia, it was primarily shot at Morris Brown in Atlanta.

Movie Campus: Marshall University

Actual Campus(es):

• Morris Brown College; Atlanta, Georgia
• Marshall University; Huntington, West Virginia

Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle

These goofy bastards took a mission to get some delicious sliders and turned it into one of the most hilarious, epic college movies of all time. We’re not saying it’s a great work of cinema in general, but it’s definitely a good addition to the “you’ve got to smoke before watching this” category.

Movie Campus: Princeton University

Actual Campus(es):

• University of Southern California; Los Angeles, California

Without Limits

A film about friendship between coach Bill Bowerman and athlete Prefontaine, Without Limits didn’t do so well at the box office, grossing on $777,000 after spending $25 million to shoot the damn thing. Often compared to Prefontaine, this heartwarming story more follows the coach’s story than the athlete’s, but that doesn’t mean it’s not clutch.

Movie Campus: University of Oregon

Actual Campus(es):

• Citrus College; Glendora, California
• University of Oregon’s Hayward Field; Eugene, Oregon

Real Genius

Even though the whole plot is as realistic as Pamela Anderson’s lady lumps, Real Genius delivers on every level of awesomeness. But in the end, all you really need to know is that Val Kilmer stars in this feel-good ’80s college classic about partying, revenge and high-powered lasers.

Movie Campus: Pacific Tech

Actual Campus(es):

• Occidental College; Los Angeles, California
• Pomona College; Claremont, California

Wonder Boys

Adapted from the novel by Michael Chabon this story follows creative writing professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas) as he struggles to finish his second novel, and gets involved in a complicated love triangle, easing the pain and complications by smoking a bunch of weed. There’s a lot of ins, outs and what-have-yous, but they all pay-off by the end.

Movie Campus: Carnegie Mellon

Actual Campus(es):

• Carnegie Mellon University; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
• Chatham College; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

PCU (1994)

A cult classic to the core, PCU attacks the world of political-correctness by being as politically incorrect as possible. The “plot” centers around a scheme to raise money by throwing a huge party. Filmed at the University of Toronto, PCU might be simple, but that doesn’t mean it won’t make you crap your trousers laughing.

Movie Campus: Port Chester University

Actual Campus(es):

• University of Toronto; Toronto, Ontario

• Wesleyan University; Middletown, Connecticut

Revenge of the Nerds

There’s something so visceral about Jocks vs Nerds that you can’t help but take sides. Either you got beat up, or you did the beating–either way, this movie sums-up this timeless divide so well, it’ll have you wearing thick-brimmed glasses and a pocket protector before you can say “Nerds!”

Movie Campus: Adams College

Actual Campus(es):

• University of Arizona’s Old Main, Alpha Gamma Rho Fraternity House, Bear Down Gym, Chi Omega Sorority House, Cochise Hall, University of Arizona, Friends Meeting House Tucson (Tri Lam Fraternity House); Tucson, Arizona
• Texas A&M University’s Kyle Field (fundraiser carnival/skits); College Station, Texas

Animal House

The source. The original. Arguably the best college movie of all time, Animal House paved the way for all the college-comedy greats that were to come. Filmed all around Eugene, Oregon, home of the University of Oregon, this classic flick set the standard for how much you have to drink to even say you party.

Movie Campus: Faber College

Actual Campus(es):

• University of Oregon’s Omega House/Phi Kappa Psi, Autzen Stadium, Hayward Field; Eugene, Oregon

Old School

Most men wish they could spend their entire lives partying like they did in college. But when Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell do it, some of the most genius comic-gold this side of Caddy Shack. From the best scene with a van in movie history to the greatest KY-wrestling match ever caught on film, this instant classic will forever remind us why we went to college in the fist place. Though the fly-over shots are of Harvard, this one was shot mostly at UCLA as well as USC and the Rose Bowl Aquatics Center.

Movie Campus: Harrison University

Actual Campus(es):

• Harvard University’s Eliot House; Cambridge, Mass.
• University of California - Los Angeles’ Janss Steps, Murphy Sculpture Garden (fountain where “Spanish” gets tackled), Royce Hall, Royce Quad; Los Angeles, CA
• University of Southern California’s Rose Bowl Aquatics Center; Pasadena, California

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