A lot of people will say that the best years of your life are high school, but I beg to disagree. Sure, high school may be less stressful because you don’t have the prospect of “being an adult in the real world” looming ahead, but the freedom and excitement that comes with really figuring out who you are while in college is unparalleled.
In this list of the best TV shows about college, we look at university life in different contexts – the world of Greeks (a.k.a. fraternities and sororities), caught up in love and friendships, and even surrounded by the supernatural.
Witness the characters’ personal and academic journeys, and see how much of it is reminiscent of your own college experiences!
Grown-ish, Freeform (2018 – present)
Grown-ish follows Zoey Johnson (and, in later seasons, her younger brother Andre), the eldest child of Dre and Rainbow Johnson from the popular sitcom Black-ish, as she negotiates the difficulties and experiences of her college years.
The fictional California University serves as the setting for this series, which focuses on Zoey’s experiences as she struggles with the challenges of her growing independence, academic demands, and developing relationships.
In search of her own path and voice in the world outside her family’s home, Zoey faces challenges such as identity exploration and societal expectations amidst her diverse group of friends, each of whom has their own aspirations and struggles.
Blue Mountain State, Spike (2010 – 2011)
Blue Mountain State chronicles the hilarious misadventures of the Blue Mountain State University’s football team, the Mountain Goats.
The show explores the mischievous escapades, wild parties, and struggles of three main characters – Alex Moran, Sammy Cacciatore, and Thad Castle – to balance the demands of college life with the demands of athletic excellence.
The series depicts the absurdities of the college experience through a lens of unbridled humor, raucous antics, and a healthy dose of testosterone-fueled competition as they navigate the exhilarating highs and crushing lows of collegiate sports. It also captures the eccentric friendships and fierce rivalries within the team.
Community, NBC/Yahoo! Screen (2009 – 2015)
A diverse group of Greendale Community College students who are united by their interest in a Spanish study group are at the center of the satirical comedy series Community.
The show explores the peculiar dynamics and misadventures of the study group as they negotiate the difficulties of academia and create unlikely friendships. They are led by the charismatic Jeff Winger, a disbarred lawyer, alongside various diverse characters like Abed Nadir, Annie Edison, Pierce Hawthorne, Britta Perry, Shirley Bennett, and Troy Barnes.
It’s a “love it or hate it” series that combines pop culture references, meta-humor, and clever parodies to create a look at the peculiarities and complexities of community college life.
Greek, ABC Family (2007 – 2011)
Set at the fictional Cyprus-Rhodes University in Ohio, Greek follows the lives of students in the university’s Greek system, namely brothers Casey and Rusty Cartwright.
It explores the twists and turns of Greek life and depicts the rivalries, friendships, and romantic tensions that define the college experience. As Rusty struggles to adjust to fraternity life and Casey grapples with the responsibilities of sorority leadership, the show explores the complexities of identity, ambition, and relationships.
Amidst humor, drama, and realistic narratives, Greek is a compelling look at the bonds formed in fraternity and sorority culture.
Resident Advisors, Hulu (2015)
If you never had the chance to experience dorm life in college, Resident Advisors is a great way to experience it vicariously and decide if that’s a good or a bad thing!
The sitcom is about a group of, well, resident advisors who live in college student residences. Led by Sam, our savvy and quirky resident advisor, the show follows the daily struggles, comical mishaps, and personal struggles of the team tasked with managing a diverse group of students.
These counselors face a variety of conflicts, from roommate fights and emotional meltdowns to chasing their dreams while balancing their ambitions and personal lives to fit their roles.
Scream Queens, Fox (2015 – 2016)
Scream Queens is a satirical horror comedy series set in a fictional Wallace University sorority dorm.
The show centers around the chaotic lives of the Kappa Kappa Tau sorority, led by the ruthless and sophisticated Chanel Oberlin. When a series of strange murders terrorize the campus, a diverse cast of characters, including the college dean and a special group of students, must work together to uncover the identity of the masked killer.
Scream Queens weaves a story full of twists and unexpected revelations that borders on ridiculous and campy satire with a healthy dose of dark humor.
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, Freeform (2019)
Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists is a spin-off of the hit series Pretty Little Liars; it takes place in Beacon Heights, and fans of the parent series will see a few familiar faces! The show focuses on a group of students working to achieve their goals, including ambitious and intelligent Ava, competitive Caitlin, and spirited Dylan.
Struggling with the pressures of academic achievement and personal ambition, the characters are caught in a web of secrets, lies, and mysterious events.
As new crimes and complex situations come to light, the series delves into the dark side of a seemingly perfect college town to reveal a gripping tale of betrayal, tension, and intrigue.
Felicity, The WB (1998 – 2002)
Felicity follows the eponymous character Felicity Porter, a young woman from California.
Originally meant to attend Stanford University upon high school graduation, she makes an impulsive (and some these days might say not a very smart) decision to change her plans and instead follow her crush to New York.
The series proceeds to follow Felicity’s journey as she navigates the challenges of newfound independence, friendship, and romantic tension. Immersed in the vibrant culture of New York City, Felicity meets a diverse group of colleagues, including her fun and supportive roommate Julie and resident counselor (and future love interest) Noel.
The Parkers, UPN (1999 – 2004)
The Parkers is a sitcom about mother and daughter duo Nikki and Kim Parker. Nikki, an enthusiastic single mother, attends the same college as her daughter Kim to fulfill her lifelong dream of higher education.
The series depicts their hilarious misadventures as they balance academic pursuits with personal and romantic escapades while dealing with the challenges of college life.
Set at the fictional University of Santa Monica, the show explores the dynamic relationship between Nikki and Kim. In particular, Nikki adjusts to her daughter’s adulthood, and Kim realizes that her mother’s identity extends much beyond her motherhood.
The Order, Netflix (2019 – 2020)
The Order is a supernatural drama series about Jack Morton, a freshman at the fictional Belgrave University.
After a family tragedy, Jack joins the Hermetic Order of the Blue Rose, a secret mystical society. As Jack delves into the occult, he discovers a hidden world of werewolves and dark magic, which brings him face to face with ancient rivalries and the evil forces that lurk within the university.
With the help of his companions, Alyssa and Vera Stone, Jack must navigate a dangerous world filled with supernatural secrets, mystical forces, and an impending war between the forces of darkness and light.
The Magicians, Syfy (2015 – 2020)
The Magicians is a fantasy television series about Quentin Coldwater, a talented but socially awkward young man enrolled at Brakebills University of Magical Pedagogy.
Along with his friends, the charismatic Alice and the free-spirited Elliot, Quentin undergoes rigorous magical training to prepare for the challenges of a magical world that threatens to invade the real world.
As they face the challenges of mastering spells and navigating interpersonal relationships, the group embarks on a series of perilous adventures that take them to various realms and test their skills and friendships as they face off against powerful magical foes and existential threats.
Coach, ABC (1989 – 1997)
Coach is a sitcom about the life of Hayden Fox, head coach of the fictional Minnesota State University Screaming Eagles football team.
The series follows Hayden as he faces the challenges of coaching a diverse and eccentric group of players while dealing with the antics of his assistants and his teachers.
Set on a college campus, the show depicts Hayden’s personal and professional triumphs and challenges, as well as his relationship with his girlfriend Christine and her daughter Kelly (herself a college student and who was the focus of the earlier seasons).
Undeclared, Fox (2001 – 2002)
Undeclared follows the experiences of first-year students as they navigate the twists and turns of college life at a fictional university in northeastern California.
In particular, the show focuses on Steven Karp, a sensitive and earnest young man who struggles with his newfound independence, academic pressures, and the difficulties of pursuing a romantic relationship. One major change he finds himself adjusting to is the transition from a geeky high schooler to a somewhat popular college freshman!
With a diverse group of friends, Stephen faces the challenges of relationships, personal growth, and pursuing his passions while trying to find his place in a dynamic world.
How To Get Away With Murder, ABC (2014 – 2020)
How to Get Away with Murder centers on the brilliant and mysterious law professor Annalise Keating and a group of ambitious students at Middleton College.
As they become embroiled in a notorious murder case, a thrilling tale of deception, manipulation, and legal intrigue unfolds. Together with Annalise’s chosen proteges to form the infamous “Keating 5”, she guides them through real-life criminal cases and forces them to confront their own moral dilemmas and personal demons.
Through complex plots and gripping stories, the series explores the complexities of the legal system and the blurred lines between justice and corruption.
Dear White People, Netflix (2017 – 2021)
The satirical drama series Dear White People focuses on the experiences of African-American students set at a prestigious – albeit fictional – Ivy League institution: Winchester University.
The show highlights the challenges and complexities of race, identity, and culture in a microcosm of a predominantly white Ivy League university.
Led by outspoken and charismatic campus radio host Samantha White, who is determined to keep discussions about campus issues alive and thriving, the series explores the perspectives and struggles of several characters, including aspiring journalist Lionel Higgins, activist Coco Connors, and conflicted Troy Fairbanks.
Hellcats, The CW (2010 – 2011)
Hellcats is a drama series that follows the story of independent and intelligent law student Marti Perkins. When her scholarship is suddenly revoked, she joins the Hellcats, Lancer University’s competitive cheerleading team, in order to secure a place at the school.
Entering the world of cheerleading, Marti meets a variety of teammates, including ambitious captain Savannah.
In addition to the exciting daily routine and rigorous training, Marti’s journey with the team becomes a transformative experience that challenges her preconceptions and redefines her sense of belonging and purpose.
Sweet/Vicious, MTV (2016 – 2017)
This series tackles a pervasive issue in society in a great way and deals with victim-blaming and the lack of proper justice.
Sweet/Vicious is a dark comedy-drama that follows the double lives of Jules Thomas and Ophelia Mayer, two students on a college campus who are overcoming their trauma and seeking justice.
Jules, a sorority girl dealing with the aftermath of sexual harassment, and Ophelia, a talented hacker, form an unlikely partnership of vigilantes to target and eliminate sexual abusers. As they navigate the complexities of their vigilantism and personal struggles, they grapple with the challenges of keeping their identities secret and dealing with the emotional consequences of their actions.
The Sex Lives of College Girls, HBO Max (2021 – present)
One of the more recent and ongoing series on the list is Sex Lives of College Girls, which follows the intertwined lives of four first-year housemates at the prestigious Essex College in Vermont.
The series explores their personal – and sexual – journeys through the exciting and tumultuous landscape of college life, relationship experiences, academic pressures, and identity.
Featuring the ambitious Bella, the free-spirited Layton, the smart and driven Whitney, and the clumsy but serious Kimberly, the show explores their different personalities and the challenges they face in navigating the challenges of their looming young adulthood.
All American: Homecoming, The CW (2022 – present)
Another very recent series is The CW’s All American: Homecoming, which is a spin-off from the parent series All American.
While the original focused on a budding football star, All American: Homecoming shifts attention to Simone Hicks, who has left behind a life and boyfriend in LA to attend Bringston University, a historically black college in Atlanta, Georgia.
Her move was spurred by her determination to follow her dream of becoming a professional tennis player. Also attending the school is Damon Sims, who recently rejected an MLB draft to pursue his own dreams of playing college baseball under coach Marcus Turner.
Tell Me Lies, Hulu (2022 – present)
Drama, romance, and self-discovery are common themes when talking about college life, whether in fictional TV shows or in real life.
The first two of those take center stage in Tell Me Lies, a drama series set in 2007 at the fictional Baird College in upstate New York.
The series follows the tumultuous and fascinating eight-year romance between college freshman Lucy Albright and junior Stephen DeMarco. Their relationship begins like any other campus romance, but they soon find themselves drawn into an addictive relationship that changes not only their lives forever but also the lives of those around them.
A Different World, NBC (1987 – 1993)
A Different World is a spin-off of The Cosby Show and focuses on the experiences of Denise Huxtable while attending Hillman College.
The series explores the lives of a diverse group of students, including studious Wheatley Gilbert, socially conscious Dwayne Wayne, and outspoken Jaleesa Vinson. It showcases their academic endeavors, personal relationships, and social activities and describes the challenges and triumphs of college life for African-American students in the late 1980s.
If you’re curious about the cultural and social landscape of the late 1980s and early 1990s, this is the show for you.
Fresh Meat, Channel 4 (2011 – 2016)
Fresh Meat is a British comedy-drama series that revolves around a group of six university freshman students at the fictional Medlock University.
Because of their late application for residence on campus, the students are instead forced to share a house off-campus.
The show follows their misadventures and struggles as they navigate the challenges of college life, including academic pressures, romantic entanglements, and the complexities of newfound independence. The eclectic housemates with each others’ eccentricities while attempting to find their footing in the tumultuous world of higher education.
Dear. M, KBS2 (2022)
K-dramas are always a good lot of fun and Dear. M is no exception!
The drama centers around “M”, a mysterious character who posts anonymous messages in an online college community. A story unfolds that follows the intertwined lives of various students: Park Haneul, Ma Jooah, Cha Minho, and Seo Jimin.
The series delves into the characters’ personal conflicts, friendships, and romantic entanglements as they grapple with the secrets and complexities surrounding “M’s” identity and the anonymous confession that was sent that started it all.
Hello, My Twenties!, JTBC (2016 – 2017)
Another South Korean drama is Hello, My Twenties!, which depicts the lives of five young women who become roommates in a shared house called Belle Epoque.
The show follows their personal journeys as they face the challenges of adulthood, including relationships, career aspirations, and personal growth.
Through the diverse personalities of the roommates, the series explores the complexities of friendship, love, and self-discovery, as well as the solidarity of young women as they experience the growing pains of issues prevalent in South Korea.
Gilmore Girls (seasons 4 to 7), The WB/The CW (2000 – 2007)
Gilmore Girls is a pop culture classic of the early 2000s, so much so that a miniseries revival was produced for Netflix in 2016!
Through heartwarming, character-driven storytelling, the series focuses on the relationship between single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory and their life in the tight-knit community of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. It follows the complexities of their personal and professional endeavors, romantic relationships, and dynamic mother-daughter bonds.
In seasons 4 to 7, Rory heads off to college and embarks on her own journey, and Lorelai must come to terms with her growing up.
Sexify, Netflix (2021)
We head back internationally with Sexify, a Polish sex comedy series that centers around a group of female students at a prestigious university.
The show follows Natalia, a talented computer science student, as she embarks on a challenging project to create an innovative sex app. Together with her best friend Paulina and various classmates, Natalia struggles with complex relationships, personal ambitions and societal expectations.
As their project gains momentum, the characters face moral dilemmas, technological obstacles, and the consequences of entering the world of human sexuality.
Boston Common, NBC (1996 – 1997)
Boston Common is a sitcom from the 90s that follows the story of Boyd Pritchett, a young man from Virginia who moves to Boston to attend the fictional Whitman College.
The series revolves around Boyd’s experiences as he adjusts to life in the bustling city, forms new friendships, and navigates the challenges of higher education.
Alongside his quirky and diverse group of friends, including Wyleen, Joy, and Leonard, Boyd grapples with the antics of his unconventional landlord, Mr. Lippman, and the rigorous demands of his college coursework.
Merlí: Sapere Aude, Movistar+ (2019 – 2021)
The Spanish teen drama Merlí: Sapere Aude is a spin-off of the original series Merlí and focuses on the character of Paul Rubio, a philosophy student at the University of Barcelona.
After the death of his mentor, Merly, Paul struggles to find his way as a philosophy student and navigate the complexities of personal relationships.
Paul faces academic pressures, existential dilemmas, and a search for philosophical identity as he interacts with his peers and professors, especially the enigmatic Professor Maria Bolaño.
Gen V, Amazon Prime Video (2023 – present)
Amazon’s Gen V is the newest show on the list, having premiered in just September 2023 – and already bagging a season 2 renewal just a month after its release!
Fans of the platform’s superhero series The Boys will love Gen V as yet another superhero spin-off.
The show now focuses on young adult superheroes at the Godolkin University School of Crimefighting. While attending the university, the students are tested on their skills through a series of battle royale-esque challenges.
The students have a variety of skills, from telekinesis to mind control and gender-shifting, and it’s so much fun to see it all play out in a competitive university setting.
Dawson’s Creek (seasons 5 and 6), The WB (1998 – 2003)
Dawson’s Creek was another popular coming-of-age series of the late 90s to early 00s.
The teen romance drama show follows the lives of a close-knit group of friends living in Capeside, Massachusetts. The show primarily focuses on the main character, Dawson Leary, and his best friends, Joey Potter, Pacey Witter, and Jen Lindley.
In the latter two seasons, the characters leave their hometown to forge their own paths in new cities and university life.
Veronica Mars (season 3), UPN/The CW (2004 – 2007)
And finally, we have Veronica Mars, a gripping TV series that blends teen drama with a neo-noir detective narrative.
Set in the fictional town of Neptune, the show follows Veronica as she solves mysteries, navigates the complexities of high school, and unravels a larger conspiracy involving the town’s elite.
Packed with snappy dialogue, compelling characters, and unexpected twists, Veronica Mars is a fun series filled with intelligent storytelling and charismatic performances.
In season 3, we see Veronica go from a high school student at Neptune High to a freshman at the nearby Hearst College, where she continues to investigate new mysteries.