Colleges with the warmest weather

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August 30, 2020
weaOdiedude // Wikimedia Commons

Colleges with the warmest weather

Everyone knows Harvard and MIT are elite schools, but those with enough talent to get in spend their college years in the Boston metro area, where winters are long, summers are short, snow is deep, and slush puddles are many. The same is true of Syracuse, Cornell, Binghamton, and plenty more.

On the other side of the collegiate coin, there are many American colleges and universities where sunny skies and warm days and nights rule.

To find the colleges with the warmest weather, Stacker consulted Niche's list of colleges with the best weather, with data updated as of August 2019. Colleges were ranked by the average high temperature on their campus. Ties are counted upward from #1. The list also provides information about the annual average number of sunny days, the school’s acceptance rate, median earnings over six years, and graduation rates. Also, readers will learn a little bit about each school and their corresponding host cities, and what makes them desirable places to live and study besides just the warm weather. The list is dominated by just a few states, with California, Texas, Florida, and Arizona accounting for the vast majority of schools.

Some are private colleges, others are public universities. Some are in the heart of the open desert, others are set in subtropical paradise destinations. Some are tiny religious schools, others are enormous institutions with world-famous Division I athletic programs. Some are exclusive and highly selective while others have more forgiving admissions standards. Some of them are situated in the heart of big cities, others are the dominant institution in tiny college towns.

All, however, have one thing in common: warm weather—and lots of it. Some of the schools on this list get more than 300 days of sunshine per year and have average highs well into the 80s. Some are humid and wet, others dry and hot—but none are cold, at least not often. Keep reading to learn about the colleges and universities where sunny skies are a near-permanent part of campus life.

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Dylang140 // Wikimedia Commons

#46. University of La Verne (tie)

- Location: La Verne, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 3,744 (51% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $49,200 (69% graduation rate)

Both the college and town of La Verne emerged at nearly the exact same time in the late 19th century and have become intertwined and inseparable over the generations. Students there have not only great weather, but also the benefit of living in a safe, fun, and historic small town that's a stone’s throw away from one of the world’s greatest metropolitan centers: Los Angeles.

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Jon Coyne // Flickr

#46. Azusa Pacific University (tie)

- Location: Azusa, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 5,003 (69% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $51,100 (63% graduation rate)

Azusa Pacific University gets its name from its hometown, which is situated at the gateway to Southern California’s San Gabriel Canyon at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. Beautiful and diverse natural landscapes—and all the accompanying activities—are the backdrop of university life there. The town itself is bustling and active and students enjoy immediate proximity to Los Angeles.

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Lure Photography // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Scripps College (tie)

- Location: Claremont, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 1,046 (24% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $54,100 (88% graduation rate)

Home to seven highly competitive, highly selective private higher-learning institutions known as the Claremont Colleges, Claremont is one of America’s great college towns. The Claremont Colleges, which includes Scripps College, pool and share resources like theaters and concert halls, bookstores, library systems, ethnic and cultural institutions, and a biological field station. This dynamic gives Scripps students access to an enormous menu of academic resources.

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Nostalgicwisdom // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Pomona College (tie)

- Location: Claremont, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 1,559 (8% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $58,100 (94% graduation rate)

Pomona College, too, is part of the exclusive Claremont Colleges network, and its students, of course, enjoy the same stellar weather and academic support system. Known informally as the “City of Trees and Ph.D.s,” Claremont is a quaint and historic college town known as much for its Spanish architecture and beautiful landscaping as it is for its high concentration of accomplished scholars.

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#46. Pitzer College (tie)

- Location: Claremont, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 1,050 (13% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $48,700 (84% graduation rate)

Pitzer College also claims membership in the elite Claremont Colleges family of higher education institutions. Not only are all of the seven colleges—five undergraduate and two graduate schools—home to renowned theaters, galleries, and other cultural and entertainment offerings, but Claremont also boasts a fantastic list of restaurants, shops, boutiques, and nightlife.

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Imagine // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Harvey Mudd College (tie)

- Location: Claremont, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 887 (14% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $88,800 (92% graduation rate)

Harvey Mudd College, too, is renowned for its membership in the Claremont College club. The town and its people exist in a kind of self-contained bubble—but a whole other world is just a short trip away. Claremont is connected to L.A., just 35 miles away, by a local commuter train.

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Craig Stanfill // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Claremont McKenna College (tie)

- Location: Claremont, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 1,321 (9% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $72,900 (93% graduation rate)

The final undergraduate school in the Claremont Colleges network is Claremont McKenna College. Like the entirety of the town’s population, the students there are centrally located with easy access to the deserts, beaches, and cities that lure visitors and transplants to Southern California from across the world. No matter what those people choose to do on any given day, that day is more likely than not going to be warm and sunny.

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#46. California State Polytechnic University - Pomona (tie)

- Location: Pomona, California
- Average high temperature: 78.1° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 21,824 (55% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $54,000 (71% graduation rate)

Several buildings in Pomona are noted for their architectural significance, including some on the campus of California State Polytechnic University - Pomona. Located in Los Angeles County, Pomona offers not only the closest thing to perfect weather that exists in the United States, but direct access to the culture, entertainment, cuisine, art, music, and lifestyle long synonymous with L.A.

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#44. California State University - Fullerton (tie)

- Location: Fullerton, California
- Average high temperature: 78.33° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 27,936 (43% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $47,200 (68% graduation rate)

Like Claremont, Fullerton is an old and famous SoCal college town—it’s located in nearby Orange County. Like neighboring L.A., O.C. is the mecca of Southern California culture known for a blend of urban and beach life. Fullerton itself is a historic town filled with boutiques, restaurants, art galleries, and other things to do, as well as natural beauty and resources like parks and an arboretum.

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Tracie Hall // Flickr

#44. Chapman University (tie)

- Location: Orange, California
- Average high temperature: 78.33° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 6,785 (54% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $54,500 (79% graduation rate)

Also in Orange County is Orange, a fairly large and famously safe city where Chapman University is found. Historic Old Towne Orange is an easy walk away and Disneyland and world-class beaches are less than 20 minutes away by car.

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Jchobanana // Wikimedia Commons

#42. ArtCenter College of Design (tie)

- Location: Pasadena, California
- Average high temperature: 78.47° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 1,731 (68% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $53,600 (72% graduation rate)

Students who attend the ArtCenter College of Design are presumably passionate about art, which makes Pasadena a prime destination considering its location within the global art, culture, and entertainment mecca of Los Angeles County. The city’s official flower is the rose—and it takes that title seriously. The Rose Bowl is held there every year, as is the Tournament of Roses.

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Canon.vs.nikon // Wikimedia Commons

#42. California Institute of Technology (tie)

- Location: Pasadena, California
- Average high temperature: 78.47° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 948 (7% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $85,900 (92% graduation rate)

Also in Pasadena is Caltech, one of the most acclaimed engineering and science research institutions in the world. The highly selective and competitive school counts among its alumni dozens of Nobel Prize winners, chief scientists, Fields Medal winners, and Turing Award winners. Among many other impressive programs, it manages NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, operates the Seismological Laboratory, and maintains a worldwide network of astronomical observatories.

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Billy Hathorn // Wikimedia Commons

#41. Texas Lutheran University

- Location: Seguin, Texas
- Average high temperature: 78.7° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 1,338 (54% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $45,600 (53% graduation rate)

The first school on this list not located in California is Texas Lutheran University. Its home base is Seguin, which is one of the oldest and most historic towns in all of the Lone Star State with a history dating back to the reign of Santa Anna. Not only is it supremely sunny there, but Seguin is also conveniently located between the cities of San Antonio and Austin.

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Matthew Rutledge // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Southwestern University

- Location: Georgetown, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.18° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 1,416 (45% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $54,000 (74% graduation rate)

Southwestern University’s hometown of Georgetown is the #7 fastest-growing city in America—and for good reason. Located in the heart of Texas’ Hill Country, it’s a tech hotspot with low taxes, high quality of life, quick access to Austin, and, of course, lots of sun.

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Excel23 // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Jacksonville University (tie)

- Location: Jacksonville, Florida
- Average high temperature: 79.3° F
- Average number of sunny days: 230
- Undergraduate students: 2,292 (90% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $50,500 (53% graduation rate)

Sprawled out across 875 square miles, Jacksonville holds the distinction of being the largest city in the country in terms of geographical size. It also holds the distinction of being home to one of the country’s only north-flowing rivers, the St. Johns River. Students at the city’s namesake university are well-positioned to take advantage of all that sunshine—Jacksonville is renowned for its network of beautiful beaches.

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Nichos // Wikimedia Commons

#38. University of North Florida (tie)

- Location: Jacksonville, Florida
- Average high temperature: 79.3° F
- Average number of sunny days: 230
- Undergraduate students: 10,452 (61% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $43,200 (59% graduation rate)

Students at the University of North Florida also enjoy historic Jacksonville’s culture, climate, surf, sand, and an endless list of things to do, both urban and natural. They, however, study alongside some interesting and numerous avian academics. More than 3,600 ospreys live on campus.

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The Good Doctor // Flickr

#36. Whittier College (tie)

- Location: Whittier, California
- Average high temperature: 79.39° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 1,699 (76% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $46,800 (66% graduation rate)

Back to Los Angeles County is Whittier College, which is just a short walk from the bars, cafes, restaurants, shops, and theaters that pepper Uptown Whittier. Known as one of Southeast L.A.'s “Gateway Cities,” it’s hard to imagine a more choice location in Southern California. Whittier and the other Gateway Cities are located between Los Angeles, Orange County, and the mighty Pacific Ocean.

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Big City Signs // Flickr

#36. Biola University (tie)

- Location: La Mirada, California
- Average high temperature: 79.39° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 3,779 (73% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $44,500 (73% graduation rate)

La Mirada, home of Biola University, is also a SoCal Gateway City and a prized place to live for all the same reasons as Whittier. Biola itself is a highly rated Christian college that consistently ranks among the best in the West and in all of America.

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DXR // Wikimedia Commons

#35. Flagler College - St. Augustine

- Location: St. Augustine, Florida
- Average high temperature: 79.59° F
- Average number of sunny days: 230
- Undergraduate students: 2,555 (57% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $38,900 (56% graduation rate)

Old meets new in sunny St. Augustine, where Flagler College students live in one of the epicenters of Florida’s tourist economy. St. Augustine is a modern destination city bursting with art, culture, entertainment, music, dining, and boutique shopping—but it’s also a snapshot of history. Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, it’s the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the whole of the United States.

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#34. Texas State University

- Location: San Marcos, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.6° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 28,042 (46% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $45,700 (55% graduation rate)

The San Marcos River runs right through the campus at Texas State University, where students enjoy both the trappings of a hip, cool, and modern college town as well as a proliferation of wild natural beauty. The town is alive with coffee shops, cafes, bars, restaurants, and a bustling downtown. Also, the campus and its river are the jumping-off points for nature trails, water activities, and a lake preserve.

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Claca016 // Wikimedia Commons

#30. University of Houston - Downtown (tie)

- Location: Houston, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.68° F
- Average number of sunny days: 215
- Undergraduate students: 6,201 (83% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $45,000 (20% graduation rate)

The University of Houston-Downtown is the only university in downtown Houston—and its tuition rates are cheaper than any other school in the city. A vibrant and cosmopolitan city, Houston is the most populous city in Texas and the #4 most populous city in America.

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Another Believer // Wikimedia Commons

#30. University of Houston (tie)

- Location: Houston, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.68° F
- Average number of sunny days: 215
- Undergraduate students: 28,029 (62% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $51,600 (59% graduation rate)

Students at the University of Houston have plenty of options when it comes to off-campus dining. A culinary and cultural destination of the South, Houston has emerged as a world-class restaurant city. Many of its iconic eateries offer outdoor seating so residents can make the most of the many sunny days they enjoy there.

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Kk // Wikimedia Commons

#30. University of St. Thomas - Texas (tie)

- Location: Houston, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.68° F
- Average number of sunny days: 215
- Undergraduate students: 1,573 (82% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $49,600 (57% graduation rate)

The Texas campus of the University of St. Thomas is a Catholic higher education institution that’s also located in sunny, bustling Houston, which is much more than just a dining mecca. Although the COVID-19 shutdown has changed the landscape everywhere, Houston was and is brimming with events and things to do for virtually every taste and preference. The good news for broke college students is that many of them are cheap or free.

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Daderot // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Rice University (tie)

- Location: Houston, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.68° F
- Average number of sunny days: 215
- Undergraduate students: 3,899 (11% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $65,400 (95% graduation rate)

Rice University is located in the heart of urban Houston, but the famous research university’s campus is a 300-acre, tree-lined oasis within the sprawling metropolis. It consistently ranks among the top universities in the country.

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Larry D. Moore // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Concordia University - Texas (tie)

- Location: Austin, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.69° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 1,332 (91% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $44,500 (35% graduation rate)

Austin is arguably one of the most significant music and arts city in America—and the northwest of the city is home to the Concordia University campus. Students attending the Christian school will live in the heart of the city that is famous for the South by Southwest festival and one of the most legendary nightlife scenes in the country.

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Zereshk // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Saint Edward's University (tie)

- Location: Austin, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.69° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 3,477 (86% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $46,500 (63% graduation rate)

Saint Edward’s University is a Catholic Holy Cross school that’s also located in Austin, where 200-plus annual days of sunshine are the norm. Students of the nationally ranked university will spend their college years in a unique, historic, and amazingly fun city that has become one of America’s greatest cultural hotspots.

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#27. University of Texas at Austin (tie)

- Location: Austin, Texas
- Average high temperature: 79.69° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 38,097 (39% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $58,200 (83% graduation rate)

Also found in the fun and sun of Texas’ capital city is the Univerity of Texas at Austin. One of the country’s top research institutions, the school boasts nearly 800 American and international patents since 2008 and more than $650 million in research expenditures.

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#23. University of Texas at San Antonio (tie)

- Location: San Antonio, Texas
- Average high temperature: 80.2° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 22,542 (79% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $45,300 (40% graduation rate)

Students at the University of Texas at San Antonio will spend their college years in one of the most historic and culturally significant cities in America—and among those with the most enviable weather. The university is not shy about prominently displaying San Antonio’s annual days of sunshine tally on its website.

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Patrick Pelletier // Flickr

#23. University of the Incarnate Word (tie)

- Location: San Antonio, Texas
- Average high temperature: 80.2° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 4,103 (88% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $46,500 (49% graduation rate)

The University of the Incarnate Word is the largest Catholic university in Texas, and no faith-based university confers more bachelor’s degrees to Latino students. That fact is a direct testament to San Antonio’s rich culture and history. The oldest settlement in the Lone Star State, San Antonio was founded as a Spanish mission on the colonial frontier in 1718.

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Ngood // Wikimedia Commons

#23. St. Mary's University - Texas (tie)

- Location: San Antonio, Texas
- Average high temperature: 80.2° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 2,262 (75% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $46,600 (56% graduation rate)

Another Catholic school located in San Antonio is St. Mary’s University - Texas, which traces its roots to 1852—but San Antonio’s connection to Spanish/Catholic heritage is much older than that. The city’s four southernmost Spanish colonial missions have been collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They are San Juan-Espada, San José, Concepción, and, most famously, the Alamo.

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Dknights411 // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Trinity University - Texas (tie)

- Location: San Antonio, Texas
- Average high temperature: 80.2° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 2,433 (34% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $54,900 (76% graduation rate)

Trinity University - Texas has a 150-year history in Texas and its admission standards are high—the average SAT score is 1363. Despite a centuries-old history that pre-dates that of the United States, San Antonio is not a city trapped in the past. San Antonio is a big, bustling, and diverse city known for spas, sports, theater, shopping, a thriving tourism economy, and the outdoor wonderland that is the Texas Hill Country.

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#22. Pepperdine University

- Location: Malibu, California
- Average high temperature: 81.03° F
- Average number of sunny days: 266
- Undergraduate students: 3,336 (36% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $65,500 (83% graduation rate)

Malibu is home to Pepperdine University, but it’s also home to America’s version of royalty. From movie stars to celebrity athletes, Malibu has long been a home base for the country’s rich, famous, powerful, and elite. Their mega-mansions—and Pepperdine—are perched adjacent to some of the finest beaches and grandest Pacific views in California and the country.

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CityofStPete // Flickr

#20. University of South Florida - St. Petersburg (tie)

- Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
- Average high temperature: 81.51° F
- Average number of sunny days: 241
- Undergraduate students: 2,789 (39% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $43,500 (34% graduation rate)

The University of South Florida - St. Petersburg is located in the city known locally as St. Pete, which is nicknamed the Sunshine City for good reason. A boater’s, angler's, and beach-lover's paradise surrounded by 244 miles of coastline, St. Pete holds the Guinness World Record for the most consecutive days of sunshine. Starting in 1967, St. Pete went 768 days in a row—more than two full years—without tallying a single cloudy day.

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Elisa.rolle // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Eckerd College (tie)

- Location: St. Petersburg, Florida
- Average high temperature: 81.51° F
- Average number of sunny days: 241
- Undergraduate students: 1,940 (68% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $42,200 (68% graduation rate)

Eckerd College students enjoy life on a waterfront campus on Florida’s Gulf Coast—some dorms even have ocean views. This St. Pete college has its own white-sand beach, where students can hang out, boat, swim, and sunbathe. Natural areas like Tampa Bay aren’t only for recreation—they double as living labs for student and faculty researchers.

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Simiprof // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi

- Location: Corpus Christi, Texas
- Average high temperature: 81.57° F
- Average number of sunny days: 219
- Undergraduate students: 7,713 (87% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $43,400 (37% graduation rate)

Almost precisely opposite the Gulf of Mexico from St. Pete is Corpus Christi, home of Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. It, too, offers beautiful beaches with soaring views, not to mention natural wetlands, and hiking and biking trails. A designated Hispanic Serving Institution, Texas A&M boasts 50% Hispanic enrollment and is situated on what the school calls “the cultural border with Latin America.”

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Darkflowerthree // Wikimedia Commons

#17. University of Miami (tie)

- Location: Coral Gables, Florida
- Average high temperature: 81.6° F
- Average number of sunny days: 256
- Undergraduate students: 10,484 (32% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $60,100 (82% graduation rate)

Like New York, L.A., Paris, Milan, and London, Miami is an international destination city and one of the world’s great beach resort paradises. The private research university that bears its name is home to one of the most popular and dominant athletic programs in the country: the Miami Hurricanes.

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Kit Leong // Shutterstock

#17. University of Nevada, Las Vegas (tie)

- Location: Las Vegas, Nevada
- Average high temperature: 81.6° F
- Average number of sunny days: 310
- Undergraduate students: 19 (82% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $45,000 (43% graduation rate)

UNLV is situated in the heart of the global mecca of gambling, partying, and entertainment. Located just minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, UNLV offers not only Sin City culture and nightlife, but immediate access to the desert and a sub-five-hour drive to the biggest cities in Arizona and Utah as well as Los Angeles and the beaches of Southern California.

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#14. University of Tampa (tie)

- Location: Tampa, Florida
- Average high temperature: 81.67° F
- Average number of sunny days: 241
- Undergraduate students: 8,146 (49% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $48,600 (60% graduation rate)

Just across the bay from St. Petersburg is Tampa, and its climate and Gulf beach culture are equally as impressive as those of its neighbor to the west. University of Tampa students are a short drive to the beaches, bay, and tourist attractions like Disney World, Sea World, and Busch Gardens.

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#14. Florida College (tie)

- Location: Temple Terrace, Florida
- Average high temperature: 81.67° F
- Average number of sunny days: 241
- Undergraduate students: 494 (74% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $39,100 (58% graduation rate)

Florida College is located in Temple Terrace, a beautiful city with gorgeous weather that’s known as a bicycle-friendly place with good parks and natural features like the Hillsborough River—but it’s most famous for its trees. The town’s meticulously manicured public landscape includes a world-renowned assortment of oaks, including water oaks, laurel oaks, and grand oaks, as well as species like bald cypress, slash pine, sweetgum, and southern magnolia. In 2008, the Arbor Day Foundation designated Temple Terrace a Tree City USA community.

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#14. University of South Florida (tie)

- Location: Tampa, Florida
- Average high temperature: 81.67° F
- Average number of sunny days: 241
- Undergraduate students: 24,834 (43% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $43,500 (73% graduation rate)

University of South Florida students enjoy the fun, active culture and natural resources of the Tampa area while also attending a school with some impressive bona fides. The university produced the most Fulbright Scholars in the 2018-2019 academic year and notched another top spot in the rankings for 2019-2020.

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#13. University of Arizona

- Location: Tucson, Arizona
- Average high temperature: 82.49° F
- Average number of sunny days: 310
- Undergraduate students: 29,027 (84% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $47,300 (64% graduation rate)

For University of Arizona students, 300-plus sunny days a year isn’t the only draw in Tucson, which the school calls a “funky, quirky city that celebrates individuality and offers something for everyone.” The city is filled with festivals, cultural celebrations, art, shopping, fairs, and food trucks—it claims to be home to the best Mexican food in America and is famous for its Sonoran hot dogs. Its efficient streetcar system reduces cars on the road, and residents have immediate access to the desert, the Catalina Mountains, and a sprawling network of bike and hiking trails.

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Daniel M Ernst // Shutterstock

#11. St. Thomas University - Florida (tie)

- Location: Miami Gardens, Florida
- Average high temperature: 82.54° F
- Average number of sunny days: 256
- Undergraduate students: 899 (52% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $49,400 (40% graduation rate)

A private, nonprofit Catholic university, St. Thomas has a rich legacy that traces to Fidel Castro’s expulsion of American and European Augustinian academics from Cuba’s Universidad de Santo Tomas de Villanueva in 1961. Located 16 miles from downtown Miami, Miami Gardens holds the distinction of being the largest majority African-American city in Florida. Many residents are from the Caribbean and along with a large Hispanic population, Miami Gardens is 96% nonwhite.

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#11. Florida International University (tie)

- Location: Miami, Florida
- Average high temperature: 82.54° F
- Average number of sunny days: 256
- Undergraduate students: 27,906 (59% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $46,300 (58% graduation rate)

Ranked as one of the country’s top 50 public research universities, Florida International University holds true to its name—142 countries are represented among its 54,000-strong student body. Although it’s located in tropical Miami, the sprawling 342-acre campus is a city unto itself.

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#10. Palm Beach Atlantic University

- Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
- Average high temperature: 82.92° F
- Average number of sunny days: 256
- Undergraduate students: 2,269 (95% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $40,600 (53% graduation rate)

West Palm Beach is known for beautiful shorelines, public art displays, electric nightlife, grassy wetland nature preserves, and great weather. If Palm Beach Atlantic University students venture a little farther out, they’ll encounter some of the popular landscapes, cities, and attractions in the region, including Jupiter and Palm Beach Gardens, Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center, Miami, the Keys, and the Caribbean.

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#8. Keiser University - Fort Lauderdale (tie)

- Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Average high temperature: 83.24° F
- Average number of sunny days: 256
- Undergraduate students: 11,399 (100% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $31,100 (65% graduation rate)

Keiser University is located in the tourist hotspot of Southeast Florida’s Fort Lauderdale. With 23 miles of golden beaches, the city is lined with palm trees and capped by bright blue cloudless skies. Boating, fishing, nature, nightlife, shopping, dining, and, of course, lounging on the beach, are all central to the local culture.

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Darryl Brooks // Shutterstock

#8. Nova Southeastern University (tie)

- Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
- Average high temperature: 83.24° F
- Average number of sunny days: 256
- Undergraduate students: 3,685 (79% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $45,300 (50% graduation rate)

Nova Southeastern University is a world-renowned research university whose scholars, scientists, and students work on projects covering everything from cancer research to DNA forensics. Some of the best work, however, takes place in the oceans, coral reefs, and wetlands in the immediate area.

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Jillian Cain Photography // Shutterstock

#7. Florida Atlantic University

- Location: Boca Raton, Florida
- Average high temperature: 83.78° F
- Average number of sunny days: 256
- Undergraduate students: 16,436 (59% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $43,200 (52% graduation rate)

Boca Raton is one of the wealthiest enclaves in Florida and the country—students at Florida Atlantic University are accustomed to seeing luxury cars, yachts, and private planes. Known locally simply as Boca, it’s home to some of the finest beaches, golf courses, boutiques, and restaurants in the world.

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Odiedude // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Saint Leo University

- Location: Saint Leo, Florida
- Average high temperature: 83.85° F
- Average number of sunny days: 241
- Undergraduate students: 6,112 (60% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $43,800 (51% graduation rate)

Saint Leo is the oldest Catholic university in Florida and one of the top-rated universities of any kind in the region. St. Leo became a town in 1891 after it was founded as a Catholic colony 10 years earlier. It was named for Pope Saint Leo the Great.

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davidpinter // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Arizona State University - Polytechnic School

- Location: Mesa, Arizona
- Average high temperature: 85.29° F
- Average number of sunny days: 310
- Undergraduate students: 3,899 (83% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $47,700 (57% graduation rate)

ASU Polytechnic is one of four campuses in the Arizona State University network and is located in the mega-suburb of Mesa, the largest suburban metropolis (by population) in America. Mesa is known for its vast natural offerings like the Tonto National Forest and the Sonoran Desert, as well as for its history and culture. It’s a major intersection of Latin and Hispanic, Native American, and Anglo-Southwestern culture.

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Thomas Trompeter // Shutterstock

#4. Arizona State University - West Campus

- Location: Glendale, Arizona
- Average high temperature: 86.87° F
- Average number of sunny days: 310
- Undergraduate students: 3,521 (82% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $47,700 (70% graduation rate)

Glendale is the home of the ASU West Campus, which is known for its blend of workforce preparation and liberal arts curricula. Glendale is home to sprawling ranches, music, art, heritage festivals, impressive natural features, and is an MLB Spring Training destination city.
 

 

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Thomas Trompeter // Shutterstock

#1. Arizona State University - Downtown Phoenix Campus (tie)

- Location: Phoenix, Arizona
- Average high temperature: 87.17° F
- Average number of sunny days: 310
- Undergraduate students: 7,787 (81% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $47,700 (69% graduation rate)

This ASU campus is located in Phoenix, the fifth most populous city in the U.S., and the heart of the American Southwest. Aside from the sweeping blue skies and natural wonders of the Sonoran Desert and surrounding mountains, Phoenix residents enjoy an atmosphere bustling with activities, nightlife, family entertainment, arts, and a patchwork of ethnicities and cultures.
 

 

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Travel_with_me // Shutterstock

#1. Grand Canyon University (tie)

- Average high temperature: 87.17° F
- Average number of sunny days: 310
- Undergraduate students: 17,335 (73% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $52,700 (37% graduation rate)

Also located in sunny Phoenix is Grand Canyon University, a private Christian school. Those students who have access to cars are in for a ride—Phoenix offers some of the most scenic drives in the Southwest and the whole of America. Also, even though it’s a city known for its desert landscape, Phoenix is a short drive away from a half-dozen majestic lakes. 

 

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BCFC // Shutterstock

#1. Arizona State University (tie)

- Location: Tempe, Arizona
- Average high temperature: 87.17° F
- Average number of sunny days: 310
- Undergraduate students: 39,396 (85% acceptance rate)
- Six year median earnings: $47,700 (69% graduation rate)

Rounding out a three-way tie for first place is ASU in Tempe, a city that’s both laid-back and active at the same time. It’s an MLB Spring Training destination that’s known for its rugged and beautiful landscape as well as for some of the most picturesque sunrises and sunsets on Earth.

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