TV

15 of the best TV shows set in college

Written by:
August 26, 2022
Shondaland

15 of the best TV shows set in college

While many lessons are taught in classrooms, more life lessons are learned on campus, in dorms, and at social gatherings with friends. Relationships are why audiences are often drawn to TV shows that illuminate the interactions and intricacies of college life.

Stacker surveyed TV history and chose 15 of the best series about college life. To qualify, the show had to have at least a 6.5 on IMDb and have 2,000 votes. Shows are organized by IMDb user rating. Data was collected in August 2022.

Some of the shows took on controversial topics while others made audiences laugh or yearn for their college days. Relive the moment when Rory from "Gilmore Girls" had to pick between Harvard, Yale, or Princeton, and watch Denise Huxtable grow up as she attends the fictional Hillman College in the first season of "The Cosby Show" spinoff "A Different World."

Don your college sweatshirt and continue reading to discover 15 of the best shows about college.

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Hulton Archive // Getty Images

Felicity

- IMDb user rating: 6.8
- On air: 1998-2002

Keri Russell stars as Felicity in the series of the same name as she follows Ben, her secret high school crush, to the fictional University of New York. The series, created by J.J. Abrams and Matt Reeves, centers around Felicity and her friends as they learn hard lessons about love and life. Other notable cast members include Donald Faison, Scott Foley, and Amy Smart.

2 / 15
Carsey-Werner Company

A Different World

- IMDb user rating: 6.9
- On air: 1987-1993

The sitcom—a spinoff of "The Cosby Show"—explores college life for Denise Huxtable and her cadre of friends at the fictional Hillman College, a historically Black college in Virginia. The groundbreaking series addressed topics including racism, riots, and AIDS. During a 2021 episode of E!'s "Reunion Road Trip," Lena Waithe, Emmy-winner and creator of "The Chi," said she was so heavily impacted by "A Different World" that she named her production company Hillman Grad Productions.

3 / 15
Neely Comics

China, IL

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- On air: 2008-2015

Brad Neely's animated sitcom features the Smith brothers, a pair of professors who lower the bar of learning. The duo swap education for popularity, to the delight of their students. The notable cast includes Greta Gerwig, Gary Anthony Williams, Chelsea Peretti, Hannibal Buress, and Hulk Hogan (along with his daughter Brooke), among other big names.

4 / 15
Bungalow 78 Productions

Coach

- IMDb user rating: 7.0
- On air: 1989-1997

Fans of "Coach" enjoyed nine seasons following the life of college football coach Hayden Fox, played by Craig T. Nelson. The popular sitcom—which won two Emmys, including Lead Actor in a Comedy Series for Nelson—sees Fox switch teams and also marry his girlfriend Christine, played by Shelley Fabares.

5 / 15
Prospect Films

Scream Queens

- IMDb user rating: 7.1
- On air: 2015-2016

"Scream Queens" is a black comedy slasher from creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan that unfolds at a sorority at Wallace University, a fictional school. Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lea Michele, Keke Palmer, Abigail Breslin, and Billie Lourd star in the hilariously dark series, where murders unfold as sorority drama escalates.

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6 / 15
Piller Squared/The Segan Company

Greek

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- On air: 2007-2011

Fans of ABC Family's "Greek" watch the Cartwright siblings maneuver Greek life at the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University. The intrigue escalates when Rusty Cartwright rushes a fraternity and upsets his sister's picture-perfect reign on the sorority scene.

7 / 15
Groundswell Productions

The Magicians

- IMDb user rating: 7.6
- On air: 2015-2020

Lev Grossman's trilogy about students who are recruited to the secretive Brakebills University for Magical Pedagogy made for a captivating fantasy TV show. The Syfy series illuminates the dark sides of magic and imagination.

8 / 15
Lime Pictures

Fresh Meat

- IMDb user rating: 7.8
- On air: 2011-2016

"Fresh Meat" invites viewers into the lives of six college students who share a house. Drinking, drugs, and debt are on the roster in this British comedy-drama that explores modern student life. Standup comedian and actor Jack Whitehall stars as one of the six main characters.

9 / 15
Apatow Productions

Undeclared

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- On air: 2001-2003

Created by Judd Apatow, "Undeclared" follows the transformation of Steven Karp (played by Jay Baruchel) from nerd to man on campus at University of Northeastern California. Viewers watch Steven and his friends fumble through the love, lessons, and lunacy of freshman year.

10 / 15
Shondaland

How to Get Away with Murder

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- On air: 2014-2020

Viola Davis won an Emmy for leading this thriller TV series that centers around a university professor, her students, her associates, and a secret that keeps them bound together. The Shondaland series focuses on the dark past that the group can't escape and the layer of lies that won't allow them to move on.

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Dorothy Parker Drank Here Productions

Gilmore Girls

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- On air: 2000-2007

Audiences tuned in as Rory (Alexis Bledel) received acceptance letters from Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, after having followed her and her mother (Lauren Graham) through her high school years. "Gilmore Girls" gives us a picture of student life at Yale in the early 2000s—however, it turns out the show wasn't actually filmed at Yale.

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Blue Mountain State Productions

Blue Mountain State

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- On air: 2010-2011

Football and friendship are the foundation of the TV series "Blue Mountain State." The show created by Chris Romano and Eric Falconer follows a quarterback and his quirky best friend as they fumble through college life.

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Conde Nast Entertainment

Last Chance U

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- On air: 2016-2020

"Last Chance U" opens the curtain to reveal what is going on beyond the field and locker room in a junior college football. The docuseries looks at the lives of players at East Mississippi Community College and the challenges they face.

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Element Pictures

Normal People

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- On air: 2020

"Normal People" follows Marianne and Connell (played by Daisy Edgar-Jones and Paul Mescal, respectively), first through their years at a secondary school and then at Trinity College Dublin. The miniseries explores their complicated relationship with each other, their families, and their peers.

15 / 15
Krasnoff Foster Productions

Community

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- On air: 2009-2015

A Spanish study group formed by a charlatan lawyer who faked his college degree creates the storyline for "Community." The group forms a surprising bond as they learn Spanish and life lessons. The popular series stars Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Donald Glover, Danny Pudi, Ken Jeong, Yvette Nicole Brown, Jim Rash, and Chevy Chase.

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