College campuses are some of the most stunning places in the world. Often, chapels on campus represent the pinnacle of the beauty. These are situated at religiously affiliated colleges and the numerous schools that used to be but are not anymore. Some non-religious affiliated schools also have gorgeous chapels. To celebrate these marvelous structures, we searched all over the country to find the 50 most beautiful college chapels.
We considered eight features when researching and ranking the chapels. First, we rated the exterior of the building. Next, we moved to the interior, where we rated walls, flooring, ceiling, windows, and seating. Finally, we also considered the uniqueness of the architecture and the setting of the college campus. Regardless of where the chapel is ranked, it is a must see if it is on this list!
Here is a list of 50 of the most beautiful college chapels.
1. Pepperdine University (Malibu, CA)
The Chapel on the Hill, officially known as Stauffer Chapel, is home to stained glass walls that were the largest of their kind in the western United States at the time of the chapel’s dedication in 1972. Pepperdine’s location helped propel this chapel into the top spot. It sits in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains and has an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean.
2. University of San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)
USF’s St. Ignatius Church is the fifth church of that name to be erected in this city. The first structure was built in 1855 when the school launched. Furthermore, the current structure is from 1914.
3. Fordham University (New York, NY)
The Fordham University Church was initially named Our Lady of Mercy. It was separate from the school when it was constructed in 1845. However, in 1859 it became a part of the school campus. French King Louis Philippe I gifted its stained-glass windows.
4. University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN)
The Basilica of the Sacred Heart is the Congregation of Holy Cross’ mother church in the United States. The world’s most extensive collection of French stained glass from the 1800s is here. Also, its bell tower is 230 feet high.
5. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
The Stanford Memorial Church, dedicated in 1903 and one of the West’s oldest interdenominational churches, is the self-described soul of the university. In fact, the co-founder of the school, Jane Stanford, said that her “soul is in that church.”
6. Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
The Alice Millar Chapel is a contemporary Gothic structure, blending a modern look with a traditional one. As a result, its exterior has more of a traditional appearance, while its interior’s look is more contemporary.
7. Gustavus Adolphus College (St. Peter, MN)
Christ Chapel is best known for its Christmas-related gatherings, during which singers, dancers, ringers, and orchestra members perform. The building sits in the middle of the Gustavus Adolphus campus.
8. Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR)
The Agnes Flanagan Chapel has a unique exterior and a distinct interior. On the outside, guests will immediately notice its conical shape. The inside displays stories from the book of Genesis through its stained glass windows. It was dedicated in 1969.
9. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
Sage Chapel’s red brick design is reminiscent of High Victorian Gothic structures. It blends in with surrounding buildings, which also have that style. Cornell University co-founders Andrew Dickson White and Ezra Cornell are buried here.
10. Boston University (Boston, MA)
Situated along the Charles River, Marsh Chapel was designed in a Gothic style. Plans to build this had been initially made in the 1920s while it was dedicated in 1950.
11. University of San Diego (San Diego, CA)
Founders Chapel is known as USD’s “hidden jewel.” Completed in 1953, Mother Rosalie Hill designed the structure. Some mistake it for the Immaculata Church, also on the USD campus.
12. Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO)
The St. Francis Xavier College Church, more commonly known as College Church, is awe-inspiring in its majesty on the inside and the outside. Construction of it commenced in 1884.
13. University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
Henry J. Heinz was the founder of the company Heinz. Several elements of the University of Pittsburgh campus have his name attached. One of these buildings is Heinz Memorial Chapel, one of America’s most beautiful college chapels.
14. Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Not only is Madonna della Strada Chapel beautiful in its own right, but its setting is also breathtaking. It is situated on Lake Michigan. In 1938 the Art Deco-stylized building was erected.
15. Princeton University (Princeton, NJ)
Built in 1928, the Princeton University Chapel, is not just a religiously based sanctuary on this school’s campus. It is also where each academic year is opened and closed with an interfaith service.
16. Columbia University (New York, NY)
St. Paul’s Chapel is one of New York’s first National Historic Landmarks, attaining that designation in 1960. This historic structure was built in 1766 and is Manhattan’s oldest church that is still in existence.
17. Tufts University (Medford, MA)
One of the most striking features of Goddard Chapel is the widows. The builders etched color into the glass instead of painting it, resulting in a unique acid process. The building as a whole was dedicated in 1883.
18. Yale University (New Haven, CT)
Battell Chapel is best known for its High Victorian Gothic architectural style, which fits the university’s Collegiate Gothic style. Its construction was completed in 1876, and it has since hosted numerous religious services for various faiths.
19. Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME)
Although renowned for its beauty, Bowdoin Chapel is perhaps even better known for its amazing acoustics, which makes attending musical performances here especially pleasing to the ears. The building opened in the 1850s.
20. Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ)
Immaculate Conception Chapel was built in a few months in 1863, seven years after Seton Hall University was founded. The Seton Hall community knows it as the “Heart of the Campus.”
21. United States Air Force Academy (Air Force Academy, CO)
Cadet Chapel, which opened in 1962, possesses a stunning modernist look that dominates the skyline. Its 17 spires are 150 feet high. Note that it is undergoing repairs until 2027 and will be closed until then.
22. The University of the South (Sewanee, TN)
The construction of All Saints’ Chapel commenced in 1904 but stopped a few years later before resuming in 1957. One of the most beautiful college chapels opened in 1959. Although its services focus on the Episcopal faith, everyone is welcome.
23. Georgetown University (Washington DC)
Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart is the spiritual home of the country’s oldest Catholic university. It opened in 1893 and is beautifully situated amongst some of the campus’ other oldest, most historic buildings.
24. Rollins College (Winter Park, FL)
One of Knowles Memorial Chapel’s most beautiful elements is acoustic, courtesy of its historic bell, which rings at noon and before services. It has been in service since 1885 and was moved here after the building was constructed from 1931-32.
25. Carleton College (Northfield, MN)
Skinner Memorial Chapel, a home for interfaith services, is a building that stands prominently on this beautiful campus. It possesses a Gothic Revival design and opened in 1916 before having parts renovated in 2015, 2018, and 2019.
26. Duke University (Durham, NC)
Duke Chapel is 210 feet tall, making it one of the tallest college chapels anywhere and one of the tallest buildings in Durham County. It displays a gorgeous Collegiate Gothic style.
27. University of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel is not only one of the most beautiful college chapels. It is also known for its incredible acoustics. As a result, the school hosts many musical performances in the building.
28. Trinity College (Hartford, CT)
Trinity College Chapel was the initial brainchild of William Mather, who graduated from the college in 1877. Designed in the Collegiate Gothic style by Philip Frohman the building is over 90 years old.
29. Villanova University (Villanova, PA)
St. Thomas of Villanova Church is home to beautiful stained glass windows, which are particularly stunning when sunlight streams through them. They are also symbolic in nature, describing St. Augustine’s life.
30. Vassar College (Poughkeepsie, NY)
Designed in a Norman revival style that incorporated elements of the Romanesque style, The Vassar Chapel was built from 1902-1904. The college uses the space to host an assortment of religious and non-religious gatherings.
31. Valparaiso University (Valparaiso, IN)
The Chapel of the Resurrection, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2021, has served as Valparaiso University’s spiritual home since 1959. In addition to worship services, the building houses convocations and commencement ceremonies as well.
32. University of Mary (Bismarck, ND)
Our Lady of the Annunciation Chapel at Annunciation Priory is one of the few most beautiful college chapels to feature a Brutalist design style. As of 2020, the building is officially a part of the National Register of Historic Places.
33. Williams College (Williamstown, MA)
Constructed in 1904, Thompson Memorial Chapel’s deserves to be on the list of 50 most beautiful college chapels. One of the chapel’s most impressive features is its 8-foot cross. The artist who built the cross, H. Lee Hirsche, welded thousands of 2-inch rods at a variety of angles to represent Jesus’ crown of thorns.
34. Florida Southern College (Lakeland, Fla.)
The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s designed Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. The original building is over 80 years old. It possesses an interesting design that consists of textile blocks and an artistic use of colored glass, which also allows sunlight to enter.
35. United States Military Academy (West Point, NY)
Dedicated in 1910, Cadet Chapel, is made out of granite. It dominates the West Point skyline due to its likeness to medieval fortresses. Moreover, the world’s largest church organ is here.
36. Occidental College (Los Angeles, CA)
Although Presbyterians founded this college, it has been a nonsectarian institution since 1910. To make the space feel safe and accessible to all, the college removed Christian-oriented symbols from Herrick Interfaith Center’s in 1990.
37. Miami University (Oxford, OH)
Kumler Chapel incorporates Gothic and Romanesque design elements. Three of its stained glass windows display symbols from the Bible, while the other two show arts and sciences-related symbols. The chapel was part of the Western College of Women until 1974.
38. United States Naval Academy (Annapolis, MD)
The most recognizable feature of the Naval Academy Chapel is its signature dome, which has a symbolic meaning. It represents the role of spirituality and morals in developing those serving on this campus into naval officers.
39. Spring Hill College (Mobile, AL)
St. Joseph’s Chapel features a Gothic Revival style. The building is over 110 years old. It is part of the Spring Hill College Quadrangle, which also features numerous other historic buildings.
40. Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH)
Dedicated in 1885, The Rollins Chapel is Romanesque in style. Its floor plan is the shape of a Greek cross. Meanwhile, its exterior consists of warm tones displayed by the sandstone and granite used in its construction.
41. University of Florida (Gainesville, FL)
The design of Baughman Center is perfect for Florida’s generally sunny weather. The expansive windows help fill the building with life-giving sunlight. It also features a soothing color that fits its beautiful, peaceful natural surroundings.
42. Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI)
Birthed from the vision of Ralph Calder, the Alumni Chapel is an Episcopalian-style structure. The building is around 70 years old. Moreover, it possesses stones that are hundreds of years old and from places such as Paris and London.
43. Wittenberg University (Springfield, OH)
Weaver Chapel is perhaps most known for its 212-foot steeple and stained glass windows, which consist of lead with glass serving as the image’s background. Included in the windows are portions of the history of the university.
44. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)
There are several unique features of the MIT Chapel. The first thing guests will notice is the cylindrical shape and the moat that surrounds the building. In addition, there are no windows to help cultivate a distraction-free worship space.
45. Texas Women’s University (Denton, TX)
The Little Chapel in the Woods has stained glass windows that help create a secluded, inviting feel while representing “Women Ministering to Human Needs.” The chapel also has a deserved reputation as the area’s best wedding venue.
46. Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ)
Kirkpatrick Chapel, which is nondenominational, overlooks the Raritan River. Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, Rutgers’ first president’s great-great-grandson, designed this magnificent facility and had it built in 1873. The chapel is High Victorian Gothic style.
47. Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC)
Opened in 1953, Wake Forests’ Wait Chapel is the largest indoor gathering space on campus, excluding athletic facilities. The building has a seating capacity of 2,250 and an organ with 4,600 pipes. Wait Chapel was home to Wake Forest Baptist Church until 2022.
48. Agnes Scott College (Decatur, Ga.)
The Julia Thompson Smith Chapel features a rare Brombaugh Opus 31d organ; there are only six in existence. Dedicated in 2008, it is also one of the newest beautiful college chapels.
49. University of Missouri (Columbia, MO)
Connected to the university’s Memorial Union, the A.P. Green Chapel has been in existence since 1959. One of its common uses by university and community members is as a wedding venue.
50. University of St. Thomas (Houston, TX)
The Chapel of St. Basil stands out on the University of St. Thomas campus thanks to its golden dome, which also serves a practical purpose, utilizing the light that hits it to brighten its interior. A prayer labyrinth is outside the chapel, adding to the beautiful aesthetics.