“Exploring Campus Life at Washington University in St. Louis: What to Expect

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is renowned for its academic excellence, vibrant campus life, and beautiful surroundings. Whether you’re a prospective student, a new enrollee, or just curious about what makes WashU unique, this comprehensive guide will give you an in-depth look at what to expect from campus life. From academics to social activities, and support services to extracurricular opportunities, WashU provides a well-rounded and enriching college experience.


Nestled in the heart of St. Louis, Missouri, WashU offers a perfect blend of urban and suburban living. The campus is known for its stunning architecture, expansive green spaces, and a welcoming community. This guide will walk you through the various aspects of campus life, helping you understand what makes Washington University in St. Louis a top choice for students from around the world.

Academic Excellence

Diverse Academic Programs

WashU offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs across various fields of study. The university is divided into several schools, each with its own specialties:

  • Arts & Sciences: Offers majors ranging from humanities and social sciences to natural sciences and mathematics.
  • Olin Business School: Known for its rigorous business programs and strong emphasis on entrepreneurship and leadership.
  • School of Engineering & Applied Science: Provides cutting-edge programs in engineering, computer science, and applied sciences.
  • Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts: Combines architecture, art, and design in innovative ways.
  • School of Law: Renowned for its comprehensive legal education and research opportunities.
  • School of Medicine: Offers top-tier medical programs and research facilities.

Research Opportunities

WashU is a leading research institution, providing numerous opportunities for students to engage in groundbreaking research. Students can work alongside esteemed faculty members on projects that span a variety of disciplines. The university’s commitment to research is evident in its state-of-the-art laboratories, research centers, and funding opportunities for student-led projects.

Student Organizations and Clubs

A Wide Variety of Clubs

With over 400 student-run organizations, WashU offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in academic societies, cultural groups, service organizations, or recreational clubs, you’ll find a community that matches your interests.

  • Academic and Professional Organizations: These clubs provide networking opportunities, career development, and academic support in specific fields.
  • Cultural and Identity-Based Groups: Celebrate diversity and foster inclusivity by joining groups that represent various cultures, identities, and backgrounds.
  • Service and Volunteer Organizations: Engage in community service and make a positive impact through various volunteer opportunities.
  • Recreational and Special Interest Clubs: Explore hobbies and interests ranging from outdoor adventures to board games and everything in between.

Leadership and Involvement

Joining student organizations not only helps you make friends and have fun but also provides leadership opportunities. Taking on roles within clubs can help you develop valuable skills such as event planning, teamwork, and public speaking. WashU encourages student involvement through resources like the Office of Student Involvement and Leadership, which supports club activities and events.

Campus Facilities

Libraries and Study Spaces

WashU boasts a number of libraries and study spaces designed to cater to different learning styles and needs. Some notable libraries include:

  • Olin Library: The main library, offering extensive resources, study areas, and technology support.
  • Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library: Specializes in resources for art, architecture, and design students.
  • Graham Chapel: Not a traditional library, but a quiet and inspiring place to study.

Recreational Facilities

Staying active is easy at WashU with its excellent recreational facilities. The Athletic Complex includes:

  • Fitness Center: Equipped with modern exercise machines, free weights, and fitness classes.
  • Sports Courts: Basketball, tennis, and racquetball courts are available for student use.
  • Swimming Pools: Indoor and outdoor pools for recreational swimming and fitness.

Dining and Food Options

WashU offers a variety of dining options to suit all tastes and dietary needs. From traditional dining halls to trendy cafes, there’s something for everyone:

  • Bear’s Den: A popular dining hall offering a range of cuisines.
  • The DUC (Danforth University Center): Home to multiple dining options including quick bites and sit-down meals.
  • Local Eateries: Explore nearby restaurants and cafes for a taste of St. Louis’s culinary scene.

Social Life and Events

Annual Events and Traditions

WashU’s campus life is enriched by a variety of annual events and traditions that foster community spirit and provide entertainment:

  • WILD (Walk In Lay Down): A bi-annual concert event that brings big-name artists to campus.
  • Founders Day: Celebrates the university’s founding with a formal dinner and awards ceremony.
  • Residential College Olympics: A fun competition among residential colleges featuring sports and games.

Cultural and Arts Events

The Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and other departments host numerous cultural events, including art exhibitions, theater productions, and music concerts. These events provide students with opportunities to engage with the arts and showcase their talents.

Social Clubs and Greek Life

Greek life at WashU offers a variety of fraternities and sororities that focus on social, academic, and philanthropic activities. Joining Greek life can enhance your social experience and provide a close-knit community. Additionally, there are numerous social clubs that host parties, mixers, and other social events throughout the year.

Support Services

Academic Support

WashU is committed to helping students succeed academically. The university offers various support services, including:

  • The Learning Center: Provides tutoring, academic coaching, and workshops on study skills and time management.
  • Writing Center: Offers one-on-one consultations to help students improve their writing skills and tackle assignments.
  • Academic Advisors: Assist with course selection, academic planning, and career advice.

Health and Wellness

Student health and well-being are top priorities at WashU. The university offers comprehensive health and wellness services, including:

  • Habif Health and Wellness Center: Provides medical services, mental health counseling, and wellness programs.
  • Recreation Programs: Fitness classes, wellness workshops, and intramural sports to promote physical health.

Career Services

The Career Center at WashU offers a wide range of resources to help students prepare for their future careers. Services include:

  • Career Counseling: Personalized advice on career paths, job searches, and internships.
  • Resume and Interview Workshops: Practical workshops to help students prepare for the job market.
  • Networking Events: Opportunities to connect with alumni and potential employers.

Housing and Accommodation

On-Campus Housing

WashU offers a variety of on-campus housing options that cater to different preferences and lifestyles:

  • Residential Colleges: Provide a supportive and inclusive community with academic and social programming.
  • Apartments and Suites: More independent living options with the convenience of being on campus.

Off-Campus Housing

For students who prefer to live off-campus, WashU provides resources to help them find suitable accommodation. The university’s Off-Campus Housing Office offers:

  • Housing Listings: A database of rental properties near the university.
  • Roommate Matching: Services to help students find compatible roommates.
  • Tenant Support: Guidance on lease agreements, tenant rights, and budgeting for housing.

Diversity and Inclusion

Commitment to Diversity

WashU is dedicated to fostering a diverse and inclusive campus environment. The university’s Office for International Students and Scholars (OISS) and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI) provide support and resources to promote diversity and equity.

Cultural Organizations and Programs

Numerous cultural organizations and programs celebrate the diverse backgrounds of WashU’s student body. These include:

  • Cultural Clubs: Student-run clubs representing various cultural and ethnic groups.
  • Diversity Workshops: Programs and workshops on topics related to diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Cultural Events: Festivals, performances, and lectures that highlight different cultures and traditions.

Financial Support and Scholarships

Financial Aid

WashU is committed to making education accessible to all students, regardless of their financial background. The university offers a variety of financial aid options, including need-based aid, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities.


WashU provides numerous scholarships to recognize academic excellence, leadership, and community involvement. Some notable scholarships include:

  • Annika Rodriguez Scholars Program: For students who demonstrate leadership, commitment to service, and academic excellence.
  • Danforth Scholars Program: For students who exemplify integrity, selflessness, and dedication to community service.
  • International Student Scholarships: Financial awards specifically for international students.


Washington University in St. Louis offers a vibrant and supportive campus life that enriches the academic and personal experiences of its students. With a commitment to diversity, comprehensive support services, a wide range of extracurricular opportunities, and a beautiful campus, WashU provides an ideal environment for students to thrive. Whether you’re looking to excel academically, engage in research, participate in student organizations, or simply enjoy the college experience, WashU has something to offer. Embrace the opportunities, get involved, and make the most of your time at Washington University in St. Louis.

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