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Business News/ Special Report / The Top U.S. Colleges for Partying
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The Top U.S. Colleges for Partying


At the top: Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Also getting high marks for fun were two Christian schools, along with James Madison University, Tulane University and University of Dayton

Indiana University of Pennsylvania received an average score of 1.7 out of 5 for its party scene, with 1 being the high end of the scale. Premium
Indiana University of Pennsylvania received an average score of 1.7 out of 5 for its party scene, with 1 being the high end of the scale.

When it comes to student satisfaction with the college party scene, Indiana University of Pennsylvania comes out on top, according to a survey conducted for the WSJ/College Pulse 2024 Best Colleges in the U.S. ranking.

Not only did the small, rural IUP get the highest marks in the fun category, but students at two Christian schools ranked their schools’ party scenes more favorably than those attending large public universities.

Texas Christian University, Birmingham-Southern College, James Madison University and Tarleton State University in Texas round out the top five schools ranked by party scene in the student survey. The remaining top 10 schools are Savannah State University, Tulane University, Washington and Lee University, the University of Dayton and Alcorn State University in Mississippi.

From January to May, College Pulse and the The Wall Street Journal surveyed over 60,000 students and recent graduates about their learning experiences, career preparation and other aspects of their college life. While the survey focused on education and students’ prospects for postgraduation success, one question that didn’t factor into the overall ranking asked students to rate their satisfaction with their college’s party scene on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of 1 represented the highest level of satisfaction and 5 the lowest.

At the top of the list, IUP received an average score of 1.7 for its party scene. In comparison, the University of Alaska Anchorage, the lowest-ranked school by party scene, received a score of 4.2.

(For more details on how this year’s rankings were determined, read the full methodology with the ranking tables at

Simon Bianco, a senior at IUP, which is located northeast of Pittsburgh, says his college’s ranking as the top party school didn’t surprise him. Growing up in Pennsylvania, he constantly heard about the crowds of college students that would fill the streets and bars in the town of Indiana every year around St. Patrick’s Day.

Students go to local bars and house parties throughout the week, but the party scene really ramps up on Fridays and during the weekend, Bianco says. The school’s reputation as a party school didn’t impact his decision to attend the university, he adds.

“I didn’t see it as anything dangerous or hazardous," Bianco says. “I always just saw it as an extra side to the college itself, and something that, if I didn’t want to participate in, I had the choice."

Michelle Fryling, executive director of media relations for IUP, emphasized students’ commitment to their academics and extracurriculars on and off campus.

“IUP students are active and successful both in and outside the classroom, and make lifelong friends," Fryling says. “Our alumni base of more than 145,000 continue to tell us that IUP was one of the best experiences of their lives, both academically and socially."

(You can see our full overall ranking and explore other rankings focused on student experiences, social mobility and salary impacts at

Eleana Wright, a junior at TCU, in Fort Worth, Texas, says the university’s ranking as second-best for its party scene came as a surprise.

Student morale was high last year following TCU’s 150th anniversary and the football team’s advancement to the national championship game in January, she says, adding that high spirits from those celebrations may have translated to greater satisfaction with the school’s party scene.

“I think TCU has been a really happy and enjoyable place to be at over this past year, just because there has been so much to celebrate," Wright says.

Kathy Cavins-Tull, TCU’s vice chancellor for student affairs, emphasized students’ dedication to their academics, adding that athletics and social connections are an important part of campus life at the university.

Kayla Patel, a senior at Tulane University, says she appreciates the vibrancy of her school’s social environment, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted her senior year of high school. While she was initially worried that the school’s party scene might detract from her academics, she says she has found a balance between studying and attending Halloween parades and Mardi Gras festivities in downtown New Orleans.

“I’m a big extrovert," Patel says. “I feel like after going there, now, the whole party and social aspect works for me."

She adds that, while some people criticize Tulane’s reputation as a party school, she believes students who aren’t into partying can still find a sense of belonging on campus.

Tulane declined to comment on its ranking.

In addition to the University of Alaska Anchorage, the lowest-ranked schools for party scene were Seattle Pacific University, the University of St. Thomas in Texas, Muskingum University in Ohio and the University of San Francisco.

Megan Tagami is a former intern in The Wall Street Journal’s education bureau. Email her at

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