10 Colleges on the Beach

Manifesting a #staycation lifestyle for you where the people aren’t salty, but the water is. Keep reading to learn about 10 colleges in coastal towns, where the beach is within a short driving distance so that you can soak in those ocean vibes all year long.

University of Miami – Miami, Florida

Distance from the beach: 11 miles from Southbeach and 7 miles from Downtown Miami

Type: Private, coed 4 year

Year Founded: 1925

Acceptance Rate: 33.1%

Average GPA: 3.8 based on a 4.0 scale

ACT Range: 31-34

SAT Range: 1350-1480

Average Price: $78,640 including room & board

The location is unmatched. The weather is amazing. Spring break is literally your backyard. The food? Chef’s kiss. Miami isn’t your typical college town, with surrounding oceans, canals, rivers, and bays that can also be educational! With 16 beaches to choose from and a diverse, fast-paced community, you’ll surely find your groove in Miami.

University of California – Irvine, California

Distance from the beach: 5 miles to Newport Beach

Type: Public, Coed 4 year

Year Founded: 1965

Acceptance Rate: 30%

Average GPA: 3.8 based on a 4.0 scale

ACT Range: 31-34

SAT Range: 1350-1480

Average Price: California residents (undergraduates) $15,737 Nonresidents (includes tuition, fees) $45,491

In a city that’s known for its geographical advantage—it has access to some of the best beaches on the west coast—UCI’s location is perfect. You can easily access Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Balboa Pier, and 30 minutes from Huntington Beach. These beaches can be visited all year long. And if you’re planning on staying at home during your trip, there are plenty of things to do in Irvine as well! The university offers many activities both on-campus and in the surrounding community.

University of North Carolina – Wilmington, North Carolina

Distance from the beach: 5 miles from Wrightsville Beach in the Atlantic Ocean

Type: Public, Coed 4 year

Year Founded: 1947

Acceptance Rate: 68%

Average GPA: 4.06

ACT Range: 24-28

SAT Avg: 1160-1310

Average Price: In-state tuition is $18,541 and $32,649 out of state

For those of you who are looking for a college campus that is both centrally located and has breathtaking views, look no further than UNCW! The Gary Shell Cross-City Trail cuts through campus making this university easily accessible by bicycle. With beautiful beaches, gorgeous parks, and a thriving community of students, alumni, faculty, and staff all working together to make it an amazing place to be—UNCW is definitely worth a visit!

Texas A&M University – Galveston, Texas

Distance from the beach: 5.7 miles to Stewart Beach, but coastal to Galveston Bay and driving distance to Houston, TX

Type: Public, coed 4 year

Year Founded: 1962

Acceptance Rate: 55%

Average GPA: 3.49

ACT Range: 22-26

SAT Range: 1070 – 1310

Average Price: In-state tuition is $6,389/year, and out-of-state tuition is $14,813/yearThis quaint research campus deserves some recognition for offering an ocean-oriented experience for students, all while soaking in the views of Galveston Bay. TAMUG offers a blend of programs from marine biology to business, engineering, and liberal arts.

University of New England, Biddeford Campus – Biddeford, Maine

Distance from the beach: 0.2 miles from Freddy Beach, 0.8 miles from Hills Beach, and Ferry Beach

Type: Private, Nonprofit coed 4 year

Year Founded: 1996

Acceptance Rate: 87%

Average GPA: 3.35

ACT Range: 21-27 (test-blind campus)

SAT Range: 1040-1230  (test-blind campus)

Average Price: $36,474 / yearThere’s so much to love about the University of New England, Biddeford campus. This university shows off 4,000 feet of scenic shoreline. With over 80 extracurricular clubs and organizations to choose from, you can find so many opportunities to get involved! Biddeford offers 24 beaches within a 50-mile radius. Students love the small student-to-teacher ratios and feel like a tight-knit community.

University of California – Santa Barbara, California

Distance from the beach: 0.5 miles from depressions beach, 1 mile from Goleta Beach, and 0.8 miles from the Camino del Sur beach

Type: Public, co-ed 4 year

Year Founded: 1891

Acceptance Rate: 36.7%

Average GPA: 4.12

ACT Range: 26 – 31

SAT Range: 1355-1410

Average Price: In-state tuition  is $14,406/year, and out-of-state tuition is $44,160/year

UC Santa Barbara is a public research university surrounded by the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The school has its own beach, lagoon, and rocky extension called Goleta Point (better known as “Campus Point”). The university boasts stellar athletics and academics while offering some sunshine year-round. 

Endicott College – Beverly, Massachusetts

Distance from the beach: Steps away, and the campus is oceanfront to Mingo beach

Type: Private, coed

Year Founded: 1939

Acceptance Rate: 70.4%

Average GPA: 3.55

ACT Range: 23-27 (test optional)

SAT Range: 1140-1280 (test optional)

Average Price: $35,764 / year in state and out of stateThis seaside campus offers a view like no other. You can literally feel the breeze of the ocean from your dining hall, and the campus is admired by students. More than 90% of their students live on campus, and some of the residence halls were converted to mansions. So cool!

University of South Florida – St. Petersburg, Florida

Distance from the beach: 7 miles to St Pete beach, however, is seaside in the downtown St. Pete Innovation District

Type: Public, coed 4 year

Year Founded: 1965

Acceptance Rate: 27%

Average GPA: 3.4

ACT Range: 24-29

SAT Range: 1140-1280

Average Price: $5,821 / year in state, $16,736 out of state

“Where water meets wonder”, USF’s St. Pete campus is located in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg, surrounded by top-notch cuisine, shopping, and beaches. Clearwater Beach and the city of Tampa are a short drive away, so you’re guaranteed to experience a spring break foreva kind of vibe, year-round.

Eckerd College – St. Petersburg, Florida

Distance from the beach: 2.1 miles from Gulfport Beach, 3.4 miles to St. Pete Beach, and is located seaside with awesome views

Type: Private, coed Presbyterian Liberal Arts college

Year Founded: 1958

Acceptance Rate: 68.6%

Average GPA: 3.46

ACT Range: 23-29

SAT Range: 1100-1270

Average Price: $48,220/yr

Ah, home sweet beach. Eckerd’s waterfront campus sits on the Gulf peninsula of Florida’s west coast and has an average temperature of 74 degrees. St. Pete has a ton of shopping, recreation, and dining options, so you’ll never be bored. Tampa is a short drive away, and some of the US’ most famous beaches are located just miles away!

Florida Gulf Coast University — Ft. Myers, Florida

Distance from the beach: Beach on campus, 25-minute drive to over 50 miles of white-sand beaches, including Ft. Myers Beach.

Type: Public, coed 4 year

Year Founded:  1991

Acceptance Rate: 77.5%

Average GPA: 3.87

Average ACT Score: 22

Average SAT Score: 1097

Average Price: $6,118 / year in state $25,162 / year out of state

Love to kayak? Ft. Myers is the perfect spot for you, nestled on the southwest coast of Florida. There are 50 miles of white-sand beaches, so naturally, you can dream of spending your entire college experience with your toes in the sand. You can explore 120,000 acres of parks and nature preserves, barrier islands, an Intracoastal waterway, mangroves, and the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico filled with manatees, 245 different species of migratory birds, and bottlenose dolphins. Not to mention, the shopping and food scene is a solid setting for feeling right at home in paradise. 

Now that you’ve seen our top 10 colleges near the beach and what it takes to get in, you can think about your next moves. Hoping for a match? Download the Encourage app, perfect for college planning, and see how you stack up.