Do you feel that? The leaves are turning colors and the air is starting to cool. No, it’s not another Poison Ivy and Mr. Freeze attack. It’s the start of Back-to-School Season! For many students, this means a return to their place of learning for another year. But it’s also time for others to start considering the future—where they want to take their higher education once they’re done with high school. There are plenty of college lists out there if you’re interested in an Ivy League education or the best university to set you up for a career in law, medicine or technology. But as far as we know, there aren’t any university rankings for schools within the DC Universe…until now. Below, we’ve ranked the best institutes of higher learning you’ll find in the pages of your favorite comic books. And don’t forget those extracurriculars. Costumed crimefighting looks great on any application.
Est. 1947, Superman #46
Notable Alumni: Clark Kent, Lori Lemaris
Home of the Bulldogs, Metropolis University features a renowned journalism program as the school of the world’s most famous reporter: Clark Kent of The Daily Planet, recently revealed to the world as Superman. Honestly, the main reason to enroll at Metropolis U at this point is that Big Blue himself is practically guaranteed to give your commencement speech on graduation. It’s your best opportunity to meet Superman without falling out of a building. Metropolis University features a well-established physics program, but you may want to consider their astronomy curriculum. After all, there’s no finer place to look up in the sky.
Est. 1943, World’s Finest Comics #3
Notable Alumni: Stephanie Brown, Tamara Fox, Michael Lane, Francine Langstrom
There’s never a dull moment at Gotham U, home of the Nighthawks football team. For those looking to take on criminal psychology, Gotham University presents…let’s call them unique opportunities to study the criminal mind first-hand. Professor emeritus Jonathan Crane is no longer employed here, but that won’t necessarily stop him from giving a “guest lecture” on occasion about the nature of the human mind. If you’re more into botany, you might anticipate an unscheduled campus tour by Dr. Pamela Isley. The student turnover rate is admittedly high, but that just means you’ve got a better chance of getting in. Don’t bother reading the safety waivers, it’s all fairly standard.
Est. 1969, Batman #217
Notable Alumni: Lana Lang, Martin Stein
Don’t let its reputation fool you, Hudson University is not a party school. Just because it was once the playground of billionaire Bruce Wayne’s ward Dick Grayson doesn’t make it an escape for the Wayne family playboys’ infamous appetite for careless hedonism. Grayson may have dropped out of the program several times, but no college has been more safe since at least one of the students has taken it upon themselves to fight campus crime as Robin. Hudson University has a respectable science program as the alma mater of Firestorm Project founder Dr. Martin Stein, and an impressive English department chaired by Herb Winston, whom Gemworld exchange students know well as the adoptive father of Princess Amethyst.
Est. 1941, Sensation Comics #2
Notable Alumni: Etta Candy
Historically an all-women’s school, Holliday College has a well-rounded education and athletic department, but is best known for its close-knit student body and robust sorority life. Beeta Lambda House in particular, home of the “Holliday Girls,” has earned a reputation as America’s most famous sorority, with its lively sisterhood and association with their unofficial house matron, Wonder Woman. Where Batman has a Robin, and Superman often has cub reporter Jimmy Olsen in tow, the early adventures of the Champion of the Amazons all had the Holliday Girls at her back. With that legacy, there’s no finer institution in America to become a Wonder Woman. “WOO WOO!”
Central City University
Est. 1962, The Flash #134
Notable Alumni: Barry Allen, Simon Stagg, Wally West
CCU is where the most groundbreaking work in science is being done today, with ongoing research into such heady, barely understood concepts such as the Speed Force and the Multiverse. Cutting edge companies like S.T.A.R. Labs, Starrware, and Terrific-Tech are known to recruit graduates right out of the university, so there’s no better place to kickstart your career in super science—and, if you’re lucky, maybe even develop superpowers of your own! (Or die in a horrible accident if you don’t have the metagene.)
The Silent School
Est. 2017, Aquaman #24
Notable Alumni: Tempest, Tula
If arcane education is where your interest lies, you could do worse than to consider the Silent School, particularly if you’re focused on practical and military applications of magic. Tens of thousands of years old, the Silent School may very well be the oldest functioning college in the world today. The one problem? It’s location might be a problem for some prospective students—it’s located deep beneath the ocean in the city of Atlantis, and rarely, if ever, accepts any students from anywhere but their little college town. So, if you’re not a strong swimmer and really good at holding your breath (we’re talking really, REALLY good), we’d recommend the next institution on our list.
Est. 2017, Mystik U #1
Notable Alumni: Sebastian Faust, Davit Sargon, Zatanna Zatara
Waterbreathers notwithstanding, Mystik U is the best place in the DC Universe to get a specialized education for the magically inclined. Some of the greatest mystical minds active today teach the next generation of mages and sorcerers here, including Professor Xanadu, Professor Frankenstein, the Kindly Ones and Deans Rose Psychic and Doctor Occult (although no one’s ever really seen the two at the same time). We must warn you, however, that if you’re interested in a magical sports program, the only brooms you’ll find on campus are for sweeping.
Est. 1947, Wonder Woman #24
Notable Alumni: Ray Palmer
If you’re looking towards a career in science and engineering, then this is where you want to be. Ivy University is the most prestigious school in the country, with professors such as the illustrious Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi to really give you hands-on experience with the microscopic details. Like most institutions of higher learning, Ivy University does have a tendency to employ the odd super-villain here and there, but makes up for that with quick on-campus appearances of Ivy Town’s resident superhero, the Atom.
You’ll be fine, as long as you pay no mind to the Lovecraftian cancer god M’nagalah who dwells deep beneath the surface. Glory to M’nagalah, father of life on this world and all others, M’nagalah who lies dreaming and twists the minds of men, M’nagalah who—
I’m sorry, what was I saying? Anyway, you should definitely try to make it in here, and I’m not being motivated by an extraplanar being of incalculable power whose mere visage forever warps the minds of men to say that. Apply today!
Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.