Top 9 Universities for Star Wars Fans

University of Nevada Las Vegas Marching Band
University of Nevada Las Vegas Marching Band. Ethan Miller / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

With all the excitement around the release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, thoughts of going to college can seem like they’re in a galaxy far, far away. But there’s good news for Star Wars fans: many universities have subjects, classes, and organizations based around the popular science fiction saga. These ten universities have a galaxy to offer those who love lightsabers, Wookiees, hyper-space travel, droids, interplanetary bounty hunters, and all things Star Wars. If you want a university that shares your passion for the Force, then these are the schools you’re looking for.

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University of Southern California

USC Alumni Memorial Park
USC Alumni Memorial Park. See more USC photos. Marisa Benjamin

As many Star Wars fans know, the musical genius behind the movies’ soundtracks is the composer John Williams. The fans at the University of Southern California have recently dedicated the John Williams Scoring State for the School of Cinematic Arts, which helps students make original music for their own movies. But that’s not all — USC is also the Alma mater of famous Star Wars director George Lucas. Lucas graduated from the Jedi Academy — I mean the university — in 1966, and continues give regularly to the college. His support has helped make the University of Southern California a great place to learn about music, film, and the ways of the Force.

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University of Hawaii at Manoa

University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Hawaii at Manoa. Daniel Ramirez / Flickr

From the Millennium Falcon to TIE Fighters to Imperial Star Destroyers, the Star Wars universe certainly has some amazing space travel vehicles. If you want to follow in Han Solo’s footsteps and journey across the stars, you can learn at the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s Space Flight Laboratory. Those participating in the program can learn how to control small spacecraft, work with microsatellites, and distinguish moons from space stations. The university works with NASA Ames Research Center for the purpose of space exploration. It’s a stellar program for students who aim to do the Kessel Run in only twelve Parsecs.

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University of California at Berkeley

Le Conte Hall at Berkeley
Le Conte Hall at Berkeley (See more photos of Berkeley. Photo Credit: Marisa Benjamin

If you want to see two stars, you can move to Tatooine, but if you want to see thousands, you can try the University of California at Berkeley. The university’s Department of Astronomy is equipped with incredible space-age technology, including a rooftop observatory with a 17” optical telescope. There are also the Berkeley Automated Imaging Telescopes which have a 30” telescope and a radio telescope (which looks strikingly similar to the Death Star’s superlaser. Look out, Alderaan). As if that isn’t cool enough, some UC Berkeley Astronomy students also threw a Star Wars themed tea party, which had a Death Star honeydew melon, Han Solo in carbonite chocolates, and bread in the shape of Jabba the Hutt.

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Adams State University

Adams State University
Adams State University. Jeffrey Beall / Flickr

Many aspiring Jedi travel far to seek ancient wisdom. Luckily, you may not have to go all the way to Dagobah to learn more about the Star Wars universe and ours. George Backen, an associate professor at Adams State University, recently taught an undergraduate workshop called “Star Wars & Philosophy” which examined issues on Earth by looking at them through the lens of science fiction. Emily Wright, a student at Adams State, also showed her dedication to the series with a Star Wars themed presentation at the university’s Student Scholar Days. She used Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith to psychoanalyze Anakin Skywalker (a presentation which would have been very useful to Obi-Wan). Few universities have such a large fan base, so as far as Adams State goes, it seems like the Force is strong with this one.

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University of North Carolina at Wilmington

University of North Carolina Wilmington Student Center
University of North Carolina Wilmington Student Center. Aaron Alexander / Flickr

There is a special place in many Star Wars fans’ hearts for the words “expanded universe.” If you’re someone who is driven to learn every piece of Star Wars knowledge that you can, fly on over to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington for the course called “Star Wars: A Complete Saga?” This university course examines the saga in depth, as well as its influence on pop culture. Some readings for the course include Shadows of the Empire by Steve Perry and The New Rebellion by Kristine Rusch, though knowing the Jedi and Sith Codes might be useful as well. If you love the stories of Luke Skywalker, the Mandalorian Wars, and the thousands of generations of Jedi Knights in the Old Republic, then this might be the course for you.

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University of Nevada at Las Vegas

University of Nevada Rebels Marching Band
University of Nevada Rebels Marching Band. David J. Becker / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

When you look at a lightsaber, you might think “This is the weapon of a Jedi Knight,” or you might think about how much fun it would be to get together with some friends and put on a big, choreographed lightsaber fighting show. If you agree with either (or both) statements, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas has just the club for you. The student-run group is called the Society of Lightsaber Duelists (S.O.L.D.) and they practice, preform, and film these carefully arranged lightsaber battles. S.O.L.D. combines martial arts, showmanship, video filming and editing, and Star Wars all in one exciting organization. Don’t worry, it’s not bring your own lightsaber, so if you want to join but lack the necessary equipment, the club will provide you one (unless you have very specific lightsaber needs, Mace Windu).

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University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming Infrared Observatory
University of Wyoming Infrared Observatory. RP Norris / Flickr

Legend has it that a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (at the University of Wyoming), a professor saw Princess Leia’s holographic message and thought “That’d be a great way to give an essay!” This led to the creation of Emerging Fields: Digital Humanities, a course where students and instructors can give information through holographic chronicles or holocrons (video essays) just like the educational technology used for young Sith and Jedi. The class uses this tech to learn about the connections between Star Wars and literature, as well as other non-Force related topics. Next time you’re in Wyoming, don’t be surprised if you meet a droid with this message: “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope…in understanding how Star Wars has roots in medieval literature.”

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Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University St. Louis
Washington University St. Louis. 阿赖耶识 / Flickr

If you decide to visit to the science labs of Washington University in St. Louis, your first thought might be “Hey, these are the droids I’m looking for!” Many ambitious engineers attend this university to take part in the top-notch, state-of-the-art Engineering in Robotics program. Students can take classes such as Introduction to Artificial Intelligence (an essential component of Star Wars droids) and Human-Computer Interaction Methods (which C-3PO would surely appreciate). You can also take a class in Computational Geometry, in case you ever needed to shoot proton torpedoes into the Death Star’s thermal exhaust port. Engineers in the robotics program have made truly incredible technological advances, including the ongoing development of a prosthetic limb capable of passing sensory information to the user. This high-tech prosthetic is actually called the “Luke Arm,” named for the bionic arm that Luke Skywalker received after his duel with Darth Vader.

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Brown University

Brown University
Brown University. Photo Credit: Allen Grove

Part of Brown University’s SPARK program is a selection of fun but informative classes. One of these courses is “Physics in Film- Star Wars and Beyond” which examines the Star Wars saga as science fiction, and as the possibility of science fact. This intriguing class takes concepts and technologies from the series and determines if and how they could work in the real world. If you’ve ever thought about building an astromech droid, replicating the Millennium Falcon, or even constructing your own Death Star (which is probably a really bad idea), then Brown University is the place to go. You may not receive your own working lightsaber, but if there’s any hope of bringing tech from a galaxy far, far away to the planet Earth, it lies with courses like this.

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Miller, McKenna. "Top 9 Universities for Star Wars Fans." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, Miller, McKenna. (2020, August 25). Top 9 Universities for Star Wars Fans. Retrieved from Miller, McKenna. "Top 9 Universities for Star Wars Fans." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 7, 2023).