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The Healthiest College in Every State (2022)

Research Based

Research Based

This article was rigorously researched and fact checked. We use peer-reviewed journals and reputable medical sources (think: CDC, WHO, NIH, and the like) to back up every claim we make, and also reach out to experts in the field to ensure we’re covering things the right way. We apply these principles to everything we cover—including brands we partner with—and we’ll always disclose sponsorships, ads, and any kind of financial relationship with anything featured on The Nessie. You deserve the best, most straightforward information on health and wellness, and we think this is the right way to do it. You can read more about our testing and review process here.

If something doesn’t seem quite right, let us know at [email protected].

healthiest college in every state

Written by Amanda Tarlton, CPT, RYT
Reviewed by Kate Mills, BSN, RN

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In This Article

Blame it on the booze-swilling, toga-wearing antics featured in Animal House. Or the all-night coding benders in The Social Network. Or Rory Gilmore’s Yale-era boat-stealing stint in Gilmore Girls. Or… well, pretty much every piece of media ever produced about university life. No matter the reference point, “health” may not be the first (or second or third or fourth) term that comes to mind for most people when considering the college experience. 

But health can be a big part of the four-ish years spent in the pursuit of higher education—and it certainly is for many institutions and the students who go there. We did a deep dive on dining halls, fitness amenities, healthcare facilities, mental health resources, and more at universities across the country. These are the healthiest colleges in every state.

What Makes a College Healthy?

university of minnesota Class Change on Northrop Mall
University of Minnesota

Depending on who you ask, “health” could mean pretty much anything. For the purposes of this list, we’ve defined a healthy college as a place where students have access to resources that help them thrive, both physically and mentally. This means gyms and wellness programs that have options for the whole student body, dining halls that serve people with different dietary restrictions and needs, and mental health services that extend beyond trotting out a bunch of “stress-relief” puppies during finals week. (Not that we don’t love a good stress-relief puppy. But it’s not exactly a cogent mental health treatment plan.)

A school doesn’t have to be the perfect fit for every single student at any given moment. But it should be apparent that good-faith efforts are consistently being made to make everyone’s college experience a little bit better.

Psst—are you a college student?

We’re giving four college students $1,000 each to spend on health and wellness products and services of their choice. All you have to do is sign up for our newsletter, Nessie Sightings, and fill out this quick and fun form, sharing a few examples of what you would spend the money on, and why wellness is important to you.

How Did We Find The Healthiest College in Every State?

healthiest college in every state

The United States has a lot of universities—about 4,000 degree-granting postsecondary institutions total, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. We started our research process by evaluating all four-year, degree-granting institutions in each state (plus Washington, D.C.). Then, we bookmarked schools with unique wellness programs, or those that consistently place in Princeton Review, U.S. News and World Report, and other notable college ranking systems for things like dining hall quality, healthcare facilities, fitness amenities, intramural sports, and overall quality of life. We then dove in on the top contenders from each state and evaluated them on the following criteria:

Physical fitness resources

Sure, you can walk or bike or wheel to class. But then what?

To find colleges with great physical fitness resources, we asked: How many gyms are available on campus compared to the size of the student body? Does the university offer additional workout classes? Are off-campus wellness activities (hiking, skiing, surfing, etc.) available through on-campus clubs? What about intramural sports? Are there options for differently-abled students? Do the campus and gym have accessibility features?

Dietary resources

Do you need to go full Paleo or plant-based or Pegan as a college student? No. But it’s vital to have access to food that’s suitable for people with a wide range of dietary needs, restrictions, and allergies—and as healthy (or not) as you want it to be.

To find colleges with great dietary resources, we asked: What do the on-campus dining options look like? Is it relatively simple to navigate the dining plans? Are options available for people with dietary restrictions and allergies? How does the school cater to these people? Is it possible to get fresh produce? Is there an on-campus dietitian? 

Sleep resources

Has anyone ever gotten a great night of sleep as a college student? We don’t know. Still, some things make it better than others.

To find colleges with great sleep resources, we asked: Does the school provide adequate resources for sleep? Is there an on-campus sleep specialist? Is it on any highly-caffeinated campus lists? Does the school have a sleep center?

Physical and mental health resources

When you’re on a college campus, and you need help for your mind and body, this help needs to be of fantastic quality—and easy to access.

To find colleges with great physical and mental health resource, we asked: Does the school offer on-campus medical care? Does it offer mental health counseling (including treatment for depression, anxiety, and eating disorders)? Does it offer support for alcohol, nicotine, and substance abuse? What are the school’s COVID protocols?

A note on our selection process…

America’s many universities are not distributed evenly. They do, however, more or less align with census records. California, for example, is the most populous and college-dense state. Its 400-plus universities had to fight for the top spot on this (highly coveted) list, with UCLA eventually eking out a win over Stanford and Claremont McKenna. Then there’s Wyoming, the least populated state. It has just one four-year, degree-granting institution—the titular University of Wyoming—which won by default. (Still, with its wilderness medicine and snowshoeing programs, it’s a worthy contender on its own.)

The Healthiest College in Every State

Alabama: Auburn University

Location: Auburn, Alabama

Undergraduate enrollment: 24,505

Most likely to: Take care (Auburn Cares)

Auburn University landed a spot in the top three on Princeton Review’s list of colleges with the happiest students for 2022, which is based on students’ rankings. Its Auburn Cares program connects students with any support and resources they need, whether they’re struggling with mental health, school stress, or any other crisis. The school’s recreation and wellness center also wows. In addition to the expected weight and cardio equipment, you’ll find a 1/3-mile track, a 200,000-gallon pool (plus a hot tub), two 50-foot climbing towers and a bouldering wall, racquetball courts, a personal training studio. There’s also an “outdoor adventure center” that includes an equipment rental center (for things like squash equipment, badminton gear, and Spikeball sets) and a bike shop.

Alaska: University of Alaska Fairbanks

Location: Fairbanks, Alaska

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,206 

Most likely to: Hit the indoor and outdoor climbing wall between classes

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has seven on-campus dining options, including a chowder house and sushi spot. It also offers meal delivery to students in quarantine. If you’d prefer to get your own food, there’s no need to leave university grounds—simply use the school’s grocery delivery service, which allows you to order fare online, then pick it up on campus. The fitness center also boasts an NHL-sized ice rink, a pool, a gym with personal training and group classes, and both an indoor and outdoor rock climbing wall.

Arizona: University of Arizona

Location: Tuscon, Arizona

Undergraduate enrollment: 36,503

Most likely to: Leave the party early in honor of sleep hygiene

The University of Arizona has ranked in the top percentage of colleges with the best health services for six years in a row. The school’s sleep workshop program could play a part in that. Held four times per semester, it provides students with strategies and plans for a better night’s sleep—including some tips on how you can fall asleep in as short as two minutes. When you’re on a dorm bed, that’s crucial.

Arkansas: University of Arkansas

University of Arkansas | Campus stocks, A-Week, students, Peace fountain
University of Arkansas

Location: Fayetteville, Arkansas

Undergraduate enrollment: 22,825

Most likely to: Sit at the peanut-free table

Good news for healthy eaters, those with dietary allergies, or students who just crave that particular taste and texture of a gluten-free treat (we know you’re out there): Every dining hall on the University of Arkansas‘ campus has a station known as “The Green Table,” which is full of better-for-you options that are free of gluten, wheat, peanuts, and tree nuts. Vegetarian, vegan, and halal foods abound as well. The school’s health center also offers a variety of mental health services at no charge, including group therapy, initial consultations, and individual counseling.

California: University of California Los Angeles

healthiest colleges in every state | UCLA bruin walk
UCLA

Location: Los Angeles, California

Undergraduate enrollment: 30,841

Most likely to: Enjoy iconic ocular health

The student health center at the University of California Los Angeles is arguably one of the best and most extensive in the country. UCLA provides all the usual services—including one-on-one counseling, group therapy, urgent care, and nutrition counseling—along with ones you don’t see everywhere, like an on-campus eye doctor, physical therapy, and an 8-week sleep self-study to help students get their sleep back on track.

Colorado: Colorado State University

healthiest colleges in every state | colorado state university
Colorado State University

Location: Fort Collins, Colorado

Undergraduate enrollment: 25,186 

Most likely to: Cut out to the mountains (without cutting class)

Had enough of campus life? At Colorado State, you can simply head off to the mountains—and still get class credit. This is thanks to the school’s Mountain Campus, which encompasses 1,600 acres at an elevation of 9,000 feet. There, students may take part in campus workshops, field studies, or retreats. Close(r) to sea level on the main campus, you can sweat it out in a kickboxing class, join the intramural sand volleyball team, or go sunset bouldering in the mountains. The college also offers training opportunities for students who want to become certified group fitness instructors, personal trainers, or yoga teachers. 

Connecticut: Yale University

Location: New Haven, Connecticut

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,073

Most likely to: Be the soft, sensitive, and self-aware Ivy

Yale University has many draws. Chief among them, as far as we’re concerned, is its on-campus student wellness center—“Yale Well”—that provides resources to help students eat, move, sleep, love (care for sexual health), and “mind” well (care for emotional and mental health). The university also has a team of dietitians that help create healthy meal options for all dietary needs. For physical fitness, Yalies can try the school’s range of club sports, from archery to lacrosse.

Delaware: University of Delaware

Location: Newark, Delaware

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,618

Most likely to: Adopt Peganism

As a University of Delaware Blue Hen, you have a lot of healthy dining choices at your fingertips, from the food court to on-campus salad joint Greens to Go. Its residential dining halls have a “plant-forward” philosophy, which means they prioritize vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds while also utilizing small amounts of meat, fish, and dairy. The school also uses local, seasonal, and sustainable products as often as it can.

Florida: University of Florida

healthiest colleges in every state | two students standing in gatorwell booth outside
University of Florida

Location: Gainesville, Florida

Undergraduate enrollment: 34,931

Most likely: To do SUP (and maybe also say “sup”)

Staying active at the University of Florida is a breeze, thanks to the college’s amazing recreation, dining, and health services. You can work out with a personal trainer, get a professional massage, or take an Olympic weightlifting class at the fitness center. Then, fuel up at one of the many cafes and restaurants with plenty of plant-based dishes. You can also take it to the water with one of UF’s three pools—two outdoor, one indoor—or kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, canoeing, and more on local Lake Wauburg.

Georgia: Emory University

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,010

Most likely to: Bring the farm to the table

Emory’s food offerings put the college on the wellness map. The Georgia university hosts a weekly on-campus farmer’s market so students can stock up on fresh fruits and veggies for their dorm rooms. It also has its own farm nearby to supply the dining halls and eateries. In addition to the food services, Emory’s on-campus healthcare is worth a mention. Anyone with a student ID is eligible for care, which includes physical exams, STI testing, nutrition counseling, mental health counseling, and substance abuse counseling.

Hawai’i: University of Hawai’i at Hilo

Location: Hilo, Hawai’i

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,671

Most likely to: Take the water route to class

At the University of Hawai’i at Hilo, you can rent outdoor equipment like paddle boards and kayaks, participate in fitness challenges (like the popular Ke Alaloa O Kūkini Run series, which encourages participants to track 265 miles over time by running on a treadmill, working out on an elliptical, or running outside), or enjoy meals made from 65% locally sourced ingredients. It’s also one of the only universities with an on-campus SCUBA diving training program

Idaho: University of Idaho

University of Idaho alumni and friends gather to go rafting in Riggins, Idaho.
University of Idaho Photo Services

Location: Moscow, Idaho

Undergraduate enrollment: 8,366

Most likely to: Revolutionize wellness with an army of robot butlers

The University of Idaho excels with its healthy, nutritionist-approved dining options. It has a dedicated vegan and vegetarian section in its dining center, access to an on-campus dietitian, and a robot food delivery service. When you’re not waiting for your tiny robot butler to bring you a smoothie, the University of Idaho is a fantastic spot for physical activity. It’s located in Moscow, Idaho—named one of the most beautiful places for running by Runner’s World—and has an outdoor program that leads treks, trips, and adventures (including whitewater rafting) for students to get acquainted with the great outdoors.

Illinois: University of Chicago

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,800

Most likely to: Get a full 8 hours of sleep (right after that all-nighter)

Sleep is a big deal at the University of Chicago. There, students can participate in the seven-week Refresh Sleep program, which teaches healthy sleep hygiene habits and how to get a better night’s rest. Other UChicago perks include a wellness center that provides everything from a 24/7 on-call therapist to various student support spaces.

Indiana: University of Notre Dame

healthiest colleges in every state | August 17, 2021; Students enjoy the Grad student orientation block party on Library Quad. (Photo by Peter Ringenberg/University of Notre Dame)
Photo by Peter Ringenberg / University of Notre Dame

Location: South Bend, Indiana

Undergraduate enrollment: 8,874

Most likely to: Supply high-performance students with a high-performance diet

With 28 eateries and dining halls across campus, the University of Notre Dame certainly doesn’t skimp out on food variety. It labels dishes made with better-for-you ingredients as “high performance” and offers one-on-one nutrition counseling to help with healthy eating habits. The college also has an array of intramural sports for students who like to stay active, from flag football to pickleball.

Iowa: University of Iowa

healthiest colleges in every state | university of iowa
University of Iowa

Location: Iowa City, Iowa

Undergraduate enrollment: 22,304 

Most likely to: Actually make it easy to make a doctor’s appointment (without asking your mom to do it)

Student health and wellbeing is of utmost priority at the University of Iowa. There’s the campus health center—which has a 24/7 nurse line and a range of physical health services—and the counseling center, which offers individual and group therapy, trans-inclusive support, and an eating disorder network (just to name a few!). Students can also access a wealth of fitness amenities at one of the six recreation centers, including a wall with more than 50 feet of climbable features.

Kansas: Kansas State University

healthiest colleges in every state | student running on indoor track at kansas state university
K-State Communications and Marketing Photography

Location: Manhattan, Kansas

Undergraduate enrollment: 16,257

Most likely to: Snag a Quaffle on the way to class

Not only has Kansas State University consistently earned spots on the Princeton Review’s list of colleges with the happiest students, it also has a flourishing recreation program. (The latter is probably a pretty big factor for the former.) The two fitness centers each have indoor running tracks, full-size basketball courts, and free weights galore. You can also sign up for more than 60 intramural sports, from soccer to dodgeball to Quidditch.

Kentucky: University of Kentucky

Location: Lexington, Kentucky

Undergraduate enrollment: 22,227

Most likely to: Serve incredible Kentucky-fried cauliflower in the caf (we assume)

Students at the University of Kentucky receive unlimited free visits to the student health center on campus for everything from gynecology appointments to wellness and nutrition counseling. The dining team at UK is also committed to a “plant-forward” mission. This means the school is focused on including more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains in on-campus meal offerings.

Louisiana: Tulane University

healthiest colleges in the united states | Uptown Campus scenes, Fall 2010. Young men play soccer on the Newcomb Quad in the late afternoon / early evening.
Paula Burch-Celentano / Tulane University

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,700

Most likely to: Work up a sweat with a Bourbon Street view

Tulane University has received high marks from current students for happiness and quality of life. The counseling center on campus provides plenty of mental health workshops, therapy, a 24/7 crisis support line, and virtual self-help resources. Students can work out in downtown New Orleans by heading to the TU Fitness Center—a new 12,000 square-foot gym that’s part of the university’s expansion into the city—or Audubon Park for a walk or jog.

Maine: Bowdoin College

healthiest colleges in every state | fall foliage at bowdoin college

Location: Brunswick, Maine

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,777

Most likely to: Come for the campus garden, but stay for the vegan banana bread

Nestled up in Brunswick, Maine, Bowdoin College gives students lots to write home about—especially when it comes to its food. This isn’t just true of the flavor and variety available (you can choose from regional favorites like Brunswick stew or healthier sweets like vegan banana bread, for instance) but also in nutrition. There are plenty of vegetarian, gluten-free, and locally sourced options and the school has an organic garden on campus for fresh produce.

Maryland: Johns Hopkins University

Johns Hopkins University

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,331

Most likely to: Find a therapist that just *gets* you

Johns Hopkins University is famous for its medical programs, so it’s no surprise that it’s the healthiest college in Maryland. Students can work with an on-campus dietitian or nutrition expert as part of the school’s Nutritional Therapy program to develop a healthy eating routine based on dietary needs and restrictions. The counseling center also offers mental health workshops along with psychiatric evaluations, group and individual therapy, and plenty of virtual self-help courses and aid.

Massachusetts: University of Massachusetts—Amherst

healthiest colleges in the united states | students working in the garden at UMass Amherst
UMass Amherst

Location: Amherst, Massachussetts

Size: 24,333

Most likely to: Make students say, “Michelin star who?”

The dining services at UMass Amherst don’t skimp out on nutrition, sustainability, or flavor. On campus, you can expect a one-two punch of verified deliciousness: It’s ranked first on Princeton Review’s Best Campus Food list and is dubbed one of the colleges with the healthiest food by U.S. News. The college rates every single one of its dishes on a “healthfulness scale” and lists all the ingredients on each dining hall card. You can also access more nutrition facts with the school’s Nutrient Analysis app.

Michigan: University of Michigan

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Undergraduate enrollment: 31,329 

Most likely to: Get students to move it, move it

If fitness makes you happy—be it at the beginner runner or dedicated gym-goer level—you’ll be happy at the University of Michigan. You can sign up for personal training, group fitness classes, running clinics, and even beginner ballet. If the outdoors are more your thing, the school offers outdoor equipment and bike rentals, outdoor excursions, and wilderness first responder training.

Minnesota: University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

healthiest colleges in every state | female university of minnesota student cross-country skiing
University of Minnesota

Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota

Undergraduate enrollment: 36,061

Most likely to: Extol the benefits of a long, mid-winter walk (or ski)

Student health isn’t taken lightly at the University of Minnesota, which consistently ranks among top options for university health services. Along with mental health counseling, primary care services, and urgent care, the school also has an on-campus dental office, eye clinic, physical therapy practice, and nutrition counseling for interested students. When those famously brutal Minnesota winters hit, head to the school’s arboretum to commune with nature in its frostiest, most picturesque state.

Mississippi: University of Mississippi

healthiest colleges in america | students using the climbing wall at ole miss
Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services / Thomas Graning

Location: Oxford, Mississippi

Undergraduate enrollment: 16,179

Most likely to: Have more athletic services than there are letters in “Mississippi”

The campus recreation program at Ole Miss is nothing short of spectacular. It offers two massive recreation centers with free weights, training services, CrossFit equipment, and more than 50 group fitness classes per week, from Zumba to kickboxing. Then there’s the Olympic-sized swimming pool, a bouldering wall, and intramural sports galore. You can also get your personal training or yoga teaching certification on campus. Prefer to exercise outside? Take advantage of the school’s Adventure Coaching program, which helps prep students for camping, backpacking, and how to save on outdoorsy gear.

Missouri: Washington University in St. Louis

healthiest colleges in america | washington university in st. louis 09.11.2019 - The Park Side Cafe in Schnuck Pavilion on the East End of the Danforth Campus.
James Byard / Washington University

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,653

Most likely to: Inspire the whole campus to watch “The Bear”

Come for the academics, stay for the food. That might as well be the motto at Washington University in St. Louis, where students give campus dining top marks every year. (The actual motto is “Per veritatem vis,” which means “strength through truth.”) On school grounds, students have 11 different eateries to choose from, with plenty of allergy-friendly and healthy meal choices designed by the on-campus dietitian. Look for “Bear Balance” dishes, which include whole grains, fresh fruits and veggies, and lean protein.

Montana: University of Montana

Location: Missoula, Montana

Undergraduate enrollment: 6,975

Most likely to: Go hiking in a beekeeper suit

The University of Montana has a unique approach to nutrition and dining, which helps it get consistent high rankings on lists of the colleges with the healthiest food. It’s the definition of fresh and farm-to-table: The school has an on-campus orchard, a beehive (!), an indoor microgreens operation, and two massive gardens. You can also attend wellness workshops or schedule complimentary (with a meal plan) one-on-one nutrition counseling with a dietitian. And, considering the school’s location, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities—think backpacking in Glacier National Park or cross-country skiing in Lubrecht Forest.

Nebraska: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

healthiest colleges in america | student reading outside at university of nebraska - Lincoln
Craig Chandler / University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Location: Lincoln, Nebraska

Undergraduate enrollment: 20,286

Most likely to: Say “Go Huskers” while eating an ear of corn

At the University of Nebraska, it’s all about a healthy mind and a healthy body. You can stay active at the campus recreation center, which, yes, has a climbing wall. Or, you can try out for one of the school’s dozens of club and intramural sports, join one of the support groups at the university counseling center (which also offers individual therapy), and learn about healthy eating at the campus eateries via nutrition counseling. Based on the school’s mascot—that’d be the Cornhuskers—we have to imagine that involves some great ears of corn.

Nevada: University of Nevada, Reno

Location: Reno, Nevada

Undergraduate enrollment: 16,852

Most likely to: Develop an emotional attachment to the Truckee River

Located between the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas and The Great Basin, it’s easy to feel blown away by the area surrounding the University of Nevada, Reno. The university itself is no slouch, either—with access to the Truckee River, a vast fitness center (with a pool!), and a student health center that offers nutritional support, reproductive and sexual care, and allergy therapy, there are a lot of ways to be well at the University of Nevada, Reno. It also has a commitment to make its programs, services and activities accessible to all.

New Hampshire: University of New Hampshire

Location: Durham, New Hampshire

Undergraduate enrollment: 11,747

Most likely to: Make pickleball a significant part of their identity

Make great eating choices at the University of New Hampshire with the school’s “Wildcat Plate,” which guides you on how to build a nutritious meal based on USDA recommendations. Then put that fuel to good use at the expansive recreation center—which features ever-popular pickleball courts—or sign up for an outdoor adventure, like walking through the woods on campus. You can also learn how to kayak on the open water or at the school’s indoor pool.

New Jersey: Princeton University

Location: Princeton, New Jersey

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,773

Most likely to: Successfully reduce the stress caused by living in the state of New Jersey

Princeton University has earned a lot of accolades over the years—and among those is the honor of being one of the healthiest colleges in the country. The mental health and wellness services on offer are especially impressive, with 24/7 support for students, urgent care, individual and group counseling, and mind-body programs that focus on stress reduction and mindfulness.

New Mexico: University of New Mexico

healthiest colleges in every state | woman wearing a red shirt working out in johnson gym at university of new mexico at
Hyunju Blemel / University of New Mexico

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

Undergraduate enrollment: 16,124

Most likely to: Show up early for an appointment (but only if it’s for a massage)

The University of New Mexico has a flourishing campus recreation program. Try group fitness classes like Pilates and spin, club sports that range from soccer and Ultimate Frisbee, a pool for swimming laps, bike rentals, and an outdoor adventure center. Students can also expect high-quality health services. These include mental health counseling, massages (two are covered per semester with a $5 copay!), physical therapy, and frequent free workshops on everything from sleep to emotional wellness.

New York: Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, New York

Undergraduate enrollment: 14,743

Most likely to: Say “Ithaca is gorges” while on a hike

Of the (many) things students like about Cornell University, the dining service—which consistently ranks among the healthiest college foods in the country—is at the top. Cornell uses all locally sourced produce and dairy and offers individualized nutritional counseling as part of its Eating Well program. Students can also go hiking among the surrounding area’s many picturesque waterfalls.

North Carolina: Wake Forest University

healthiest colleges in every state | students playing football on hearn plaza outside wait chapel
Ken Bennet / Wake Forest University

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Undergraduate enrollment: 5,400

Most likely to: Put the “well” in “intellectual”

From 24/7 mental health support to robust women’s health programs to on-campus mindfulness groups, Wake Forest University is dedicated to the wellbeing of its students. So much so, in fact, that there’s even an entire Office of Wellbeing, which offers support for different aspects of wellness—including things like social, spiritual, intellectual, and financial wellness. Students can also access nutrition counseling, wellness coaching, massage therapy, peer education, and a whole slew of virtual self-help resources.

North Dakota: University of North Dakota

University of North Dakota

Location: Grand Forks, North Dakota

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,796

Most likely to: Force everyone to wake up for sunrise yoga

At the University of North Dakota’s Wellness Center, you can wake up with sunrise yoga, take a healthy cooking class, climb the rock wall, work out with a personal trainer, or rent kayaks and cross-country skis. (Among many other things.) That—plus the fact that the school uses the Guiding Stars nutrition ranking program in its dining halls—may be why MSN gave the college an A+ for health.

Ohio: Kenyon College

Location: Gambier, Ohio

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,617

Most likely to: Make English majors do cardio

One of the many perks of being a student at Kenyon College is access to its state-of-the-art athletic facilities. Between the indoor running track, Olympic-sized pool, weight room, tennis and basketball courts, and fitness studios galore, there’s no shortage of ways to get your heart pumping. According to the school’s website, the massive 12,000 square-foot rec center has more than 200 exercise machines, too.

Oklahoma: University of Oklahoma

Location: Norman, Oklahoma

Undergraduate enrollment: 21,383

Most likely to: Put on a happy face (but for real)

Students at the University of Oklahoma are some of the happiest in the country, according to the Princeton Review. Maybe it’s the wide variety of plant-based food options available at the campus eateries. Maybe it’s the 60-plus fitness classes offered every week (including trendy F45 training!). Or maybe it’s the online therapy support to help with anxiety, depression, and more.

Oregon: University of Oregon

Location: Eugene, Oregon

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,045

Most likely to: Be way, way better than the Oregon Trail

Grab a plate at any of the University of Oregon‘s campus restaurants. On it, you’ll be able to enjoy fresh produce from 25 local farms across the state. The school also prides itself on its enormous recreation center which includes functional training, group exercise, rock climbing walls, an indoor pool, and turf and grass fields for students to play club and intramural sports.

Pennsylvania: Bucknell University

Location: Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Undergraduate enrollment: 3,695

Most likely to: Be like summer camp, only better

If you can think of a recreation and campus sport, Bucknell University almost certainly offers it. You’ll find indoor rock climbing walls, a variety of courts (tennis, squash, racquetball, basketball, and the like), a swimming natatorium (that’s a fancy word for “indoor pool”), strength training and cardio spaces, and a bevy of outdoor fields. You can also enjoy one of the many running or walking trails, play a round on the disc golf course, or go boating at the crew center.

Rhode Island: Brown University

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,125 

Most likely to: Put “self care” on the to-do list

Brown University puts a heavy emphasis on both physical and mental health—and it’s a perennial feature on “happy student” college lists. Its BWell Health program focuses on promoting “holistic health and wellbeing” for students through nutrition resources, self-care techniques, stress reduction, sexual health education, and more. It also provides sleep hygiene help and LGBTQIA+ healthcare. 

South Carolina: University of South Carolina

Location: Columbia, South Carolina

Undergraduate enrollment: 27,270 

Most likely to: Cause wellness-based decision paralysis

After fueling up at one of the 30-plus eateries on campus—three of which are Level I Certified Green Restaurants for plant-based and vegan students—you can check out the University of South Carolina‘s famous athletic facilities. There are three swimming pools and a stately student recreation center with every piece of equipment and every group fitness class you could want. And don’t forget about club and intramural sports, like badminton, kickball, and indoor soccer.

South Dakota: South Dakota State University

healthiest colleges in every state | south dakota state
South Dakota State University

Location: Brookings, South Dakota

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,976

Most likely to: Be a health hero

Whether you’re trying nutrition counseling, sweating it out in water aerobics, or making an appointment at the student health clinic, there are plenty of ways to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health at South Dakota State University. The school’s HEROH (Helping Everyone Reach Optimal Health) program also offers wellness events like 5K runs and blood drives.

Tennessee: Vanderbilt University

Location: Nashville, Tennessee

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,057

Most likely to: Have Vander-built different student health services

Year over year, students give Vanderbilt University top marks in quality of life, campus food, and happiness—and it’s no surprise given the school’s stellar facilities and health services. For instance, the student health center (associated with the renowned Vanderbilt Medical Center) offers primary care, sexual health services, sports medicine, weight loss management, nutritionist appointments, and LGBTQI+ healthcare. 

Texas: Rice University

healthiest colleges in every state | students playing water volleyball at rice university gibbs recreation center
Rice University

Location: Houston, Texas

Undergraduate enrollment: 4,076

Most likely to: Make students say, “Wait, is this an institution of higher learning or a wellness retreat?”

Rice University offers a wide array of physical health services—like STI testing and gynecology exams—as well as a wellbeing and counseling center, which is dedicated to improving students’ mental health with a robust staff of trained professionals. Students can participate in individual or group therapy, learn stress management techniques, or attend Wellbeing Wednesdays in the school’s holistic garden. Then, there’s the rec center, which includes a competition and recreational pool, 9,000 square feet of state-of-the-art fitness equipment, and group exercise classes like Zumba, Pilates, and indoor cycling. Students who fancy an outdoor spin can check out Rice Bikes, a student-founded, student-run bike shop.

Utah: University of Utah

healthiest colleges in every state | university of utah Bonneville Shoreline June-6
University of Utah

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Undergraduate enrollment: 24,643

Most likely to: Shop at the farmers’ market

Along with an Eat Local initiative, where it sources fresh ingredients from nearby farms, the University of Utah offers a Balanced U program. The aim is to label all better-for-you and plant-based dishes on campus, so students can make informed decisions. The student health center is equally focused on wellbeing, with a full service primary care facility. It also offers preventative care and women’s health services.

Vermont: Middlebury College

Location: Middlebury, Vermont

Undergraduate enrollment: 2,580 

Most likely to: Abscond into the mountains (but you’ll never know which range)

Whatever you need, health and wellness-wise, chances are the Middlebury College Health and Wellness Center can help you. It offers free counseling for students, along with sports medicine and health services like vaccinations, sexual health, and prescription delivery. You can also attend a plethora of wellness group meetings on campus or get one-on-one support from peer educators. Because the school sits in a plum location between Vermont’s Green Mountains and New York’s Adirondacks, students are almost guaranteed to find themselves on a hike, camping trip, or some other kind of outdoor adventure at some point during their four years as a Midd Kid.

Virginia: Virginia Tech

Location: Blacksburg, Virginia

Undergraduate enrollment: 30,020

Most likely to: Visit a local yoga studio on their birthday

Just what is it about Virginia Tech? It could be the food: The school has 11 diverse dining centers, locally sourced produce, and interactive nutrition app with all nutritional information about all on-campus dining options. Tech’s Hokie Wellness program also offers students a unique way to celebrate their 21st birthday. After attending an information session that covers safe drinking, students get a coupon book filled with deals and freebies for local businesses, like a climbing gym, yoga studio, and boxing gym. That, plus a booming on-campus recreation and athletics program, often puts Hokies on the map as one of the happiest student bodies out there.

Washington: Whitman College

Location: Walla Walla, Washington

Undergraduate enrollment: 1,360

Most likely to: Start a hacky sack awareness club

Anyone drawn to an active lifestyle will fit right in at Whitman College. Students and faculty alike value intramural sports, from ultimate Frisbee to rugby, and praise the school’s overall quality of life. If team sports aren’t your thing, you can swim laps in the pool, tackle the indoor climbing wall, or train at the 10,000-square-foot recreation center on campus.

Washington, DC: Georgetown University

Location: Washington, D.C.

Undergraduate enrollment: 7,357

Most likely to: Work on their swings between classes

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., Georgetown University is one of the healthiest colleges in the country. This is thanks to its extensive healthy dining options and athletic facilities (which include Olympic lifting equipment, an indoor track, and a golf practice center). Another perk? The school’s counseling center offers a range of services: Individual therapy, group counseling and support, monthly workshops on stress management and mindfulness, and more.

West Virginia: West Virginia University

healthiest colleges in every state |  First-year students take part in Welcome Week activities at the Core Arboretum to explore nature within the campus, and to practice well-being on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022 in Morgantown, W.Va. (WVU Photo/David Malecki)
WVU Photo / David Malecki

Location: Morgantown, West Virginia

Undergraduate enrollment: 18,641

Most likely to: Be where the wild things are

West Virginia University makes getting (or staying) in shape accessible for all its students. The campus recreation services are teeming with all sorts of fitness activities, from group exercise classes to individual personal training to intramural sports. It also offers virtual workout resources for those who don’t want to leave their dorm. There’s also a disc golf course, rock climbing wall, and courts for basketball, badminton, volleyball, racquetball, and more. All told, WVU lives up to its state’s “Wild and Wonderful” motto—a variety of hiking trails are available on or close to campus, including the Allegheny Trail and North Fork Mountain Trail.

Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Location: Madison, Wisconsin

Undergraduate enrollment: 33,585

Most likely to: Activate a support network

The on-campus professionals at the University of Wisconsin-Madison provide free mental health services, counseling, and 24/7 crisis support to students. Along with no-cost, confidential support for survivors of traumatic experiences, the health center also offers an extensive amount of physical health services, including gynecology, physical therapy, athletic training, and trans health.

Wyoming: University of Wyoming

Location: Laramie, Wyoming

Undergraduate enrollment: 9,342 

Most likely to: Snowshoe to class

The University of Wyoming has two main health highlights. First is the outdoor program, which offers exciting adventures like mountain biking, day hikes through the Wyoming wilderness, outdoor yoga, snowshoeing, and stand-up paddle boarding. Second is the wellness center, which hosts workshops on topics like self-love, anxiety and depression, sleep, and more.

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