America's Best Surf Colleges

October 24, 2013 3 min read

Pepperdine University best surf colleges.

Where to Go For the Best Schools of Shred

Football has Alabama University, the University of Oregon and Florida University.  Basketball has Kentucky University, Michigan State and Louisville.  These colleges have reputations for excellence in their respective sports.  So, what about surfing and bodysurfing?  We put together a list of the top colleges where schooling and shredding go hand in hand.  Our entire list is in California (check out the state's best bodysurfing beaches).  Sorry, East Coast and Hawaii.  No hard feelings.

No. 5:  Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)

Nestled in the Malibu hills, Pepperdine is a haven especially suited for longboarders.  The school overlooks the swell hotbed that is First Point.  It's located in the Malibu Lagoon: home to clean, tapered rights and lefts.  Surfing students can also move to Second Point to catch rides on their shortboards.  Dozens of other beaches lie within driving range, too.  By the way, your surfing could count as a PE credit here!  While it costs $50,000 per year to attend, 75% of Pepperdine's students have some form of financial aid (Surfer Magazine), so it's well within a student's grasp.

No. 4:  Cal Polytechnic State University (San Luis Obispo, CA)

If you choose to attend "Cal Poly", as the students call it, you can look forward to many solitary surf sessions.  The waves of the Central California coast are relatively unexplored as compared to the packed Los Angeles and San Diego beaches.  The water temperature here is typically colder than down south, but jump in and catch the swell San Simeon, Morro Bay or Montana de Oro and you'll be glad you braved it.  According to Cal Poly's website, the incoming freshman students' average high school GPA is 3.84.  You'll have to buckle down on your books to get in here. 

UC San Diego best surf colleges.No. 3:  University of California, San Diego (San Diego, CA)

The University of California at San Diego is the premier place to go if you want to both surf and learn about the ocean.  This school is home to the Scripp's Instiution of Oceanography, which is one of the country's best ocean research centers.  On top of that, you'll have access to some of the top breaks in Southern California.  Oh, and Baja California is only an hour's drive away!  According to the school's website, UCSD ranked as the seventh best public university in the nation in 2009.  Better yet, you'll have a nice shot of Black's from the cliffs above as you're walking to class.

No. 2:  University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA)

Back up north, the city of Santa Cruz is a west coast surf gem.  UCSC is nestled within groves of redwood trees, and it's just a quick drive before you're out there shredding the famous California beaches like Pleasure Point, The Hook and Mavericks.  While the water may be cold and the locals even colder, you can try Cowell's where the groms usually surf.  UCSC has some of the top science programs in the country, and the average incoming freshman's GPA is 3.6.  Study up if you want to be a banana slug (that's their mascot)!

No. 1:  University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)

UC Santa Barbara best surf colleges.This Central California university is home to both Nobel Prize winners and quality swell.  Just steps away from the dorms are the local favorites:  Campus Point, Sands and Devereaux Beach.  You can also head north to colder waters and surf the likes of El Capitan State Beach, Refugio State Beach or Jalama.  Head south to the Rincon to experience what surfers call the "Queen of the Coast".  The university is, much like the other schools on our list, one of the top public universities in the U.S.  There are multiple surfing-related courses you can take here, like History of Surfing.  Sorry, no surf major though.  Once you're all set up in your cozy dorm room in the laidback student community of Isla Vista, you will understand that warm, friendly UCSB surf culture that everyone can't get enough of.

Sarah Webb
Sarah Webb