If you are a movie buff exploring your university options, you have the fortune of having one more information source to use to your advantage: The big screen!

Here are ten universities that have been repeatedly featured in major movies.

1. Columbia University, USA

It was on this huge campus in New York where the original Ghostbusters guys drank their worries away. The uptown Manhattan university can also be seen in 2002’s Spider-Man, 007’s Casino Royale, Hitch, K-PAX and Malcolm X, among others. Additionally, Columbia is home to the most filmed college classroom in history - 309 Havemeyer Hall.

2. University of Toronto, Canada

Though it is a story of American high school life, Mean Girls was actually filmed north of the border in Canada, at the University of Toronto. The university can also be seen in Good Will Hunting under similar circumstances – it played the part of Harvard University due to its uncanny resemblance to the Ivy League giant. Other popular movies filmed at UT are The Incredible Hulk, Total Recall, Shadowland and Capote.

3. Harvard University, USA

Fun Fact: Most of the time when movies take place in the prestigious Harvard University, they are actually filmed elsewhere. Harvard banned filming on its campus in 1970. Nowadays, only aerial shots or footage taken from afar are allowed, both of which you can see in The Harvard Man. Some older movies have managed to skirt the ban, so you can spot the real Harvard in The Bostonians and A Small Circle of Friends.

4. University of Southern California, USA

The famous USC is no stranger to film crews: The university has hosted big productions such as Forrest Gump, The Social Network and Legally Blonde. These two California schools are expensive locations to shoot at, but are often seen in motion pictures due to their proximity to Hollywood!


5. University College of London, UK

If you’ve seen Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the thriller Inception, you may already be familiar with UCL’s campus. The university, and its historic main building, have been featured in several blockbusters since the 1950s. Other famous films shot here include Eyes Wide Shut, Gladiator and The Mummy Returns.

6. New York University, USA

As it is one of New York’s biggest landowners, New York University makes it onto many movies. Washington Square Park is one place that is surrounded by buildings owned by NYU. You can see them in When Harry Met Sally, and August Rush. Other movies filmed around NYU territory include The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 and In Good Company.

7. University of Cambridge, UK

The latest blockbuster filmed at the University of Cambridge was The Theory of Everything, based on the life story of physicist Stephen Hawking. It can also be seen in movies that include Sylvia, a film about the poet and novelist Sylvia Plath, and X+Y. The latter tells the story of a teenage math prodigy.

8. University of Oxford, UK

The English medieval town of Oxford has been the setting in roughly 40 movies since the 1960s, with most of those taking place in, and around, the buildings of the University of Oxford. Some of the most famous flicks filmed at the university include three Harry Potter movies, X-Men: First Class, and the James Bond sequel Tomorrow Never Dies.

 9. Melbourne University, Australia

The Land Down Under may not be a hotspot for movies due to its distance from Hollywood, but Melbourne University can still be spotted in a couple of cinematic works. There is the fantasy film I, Frankenstein, the Pierce Brosnan flick The Moon and the Sun, and also 2009’s Knowing.

10. University of British Columbia, Canada

Located in the city of Vancouver, a.k.a “Hollywood North,” it’s no surprise that the University of British Columbia has made an appearance in tens of popular films. Its most recent claim to fame was that it was featured in the oscar nominated The Revenant. Other movies filmed at UBC include X-Men Origins: Wolverine, If I Stay and 88 Minutes.


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About the Author: Mirva Lempiäinen is a US-educated freelance journalist from Finland. After calling New York City home for about a decade, she now resides on the French-Caribbean island of Guadeloupe.