Home Schools Colleges in the US With the Weirdest (Sometimes Funny) Names

Colleges in the US With the Weirdest (Sometimes Funny) Names

Are you sure that college name is real?

female college student laughing when she hears the weirdest college names in the US

Often, you can immediately tell a college’s prestige just by hearing its name. 👂🏻 

Harvard, Princeton, Stanford, Yale — the names of these colleges alone all conjure mental images of manicured campuses, big-time endowments, and state-of-the-art everything. 

But the US is no stranger to the weirdest college names that will leave you scratching your head in confusion (and some may even make you chuckle). 😜

 a group of college students having a laugh after hearing the weirdest college names in the US
It’s time to be introduced to the weirdest college names in the US and maybe learn a thing or two from their stories (while having a laugh). Photo: Freepik

Samford University

“Did you say Stanford?” That must be one of the most eye-rolling questions that Samford students hear on the daily. 🙄

The Hataway Laboratory at Samford University
This school has a habit of honoring people as it was first named Howard College as a tribute to John Howard, an 18th-century social reformer. Photo: public domain

But this institution, once known as Howard College, decided to rename itself in 1965 to honor Frank Park Samford, ​​an insurance executive who was a longtime trustee. 

Chattahoochee Valley Community College

Hear giggles each time you tell people where you study? Well, that’s to be expected if you attend a college that has the word “hoochee” in its name. 🤭

While it might seem like a ridiculous, made-up name, the term actually comes from “chatto” and “hoche” — two Muscogee words that mean “stone” and “marked.” 

Coconino Community College

Fight the urge to read one of the weirdest college names out loud with an over-the-top Italian accent, okay? 🤫

This community college takes its name from Coconino County which traces its origin to the term “cohonino,” a name attributed to the American-Indian tribe Havasupai. 🤩

Citrus College

Hmm, what a fruity name! 🍊 Citrus is a census-designated place in Los Angeles County where this college’s 104-acre campus can be found.

It’s also awesome to think that this is the oldest community college in the county. 🤯

A campus shot of Citrus College in Glendora
A Los Angeles county is the inspiration behind the fun-sounding name of this community college. Photo: Simon Shek/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

Ave Maria University

Here comes a private Roman Catholic university with a weird yet iconic name. 🙌🏽 You’d think that ​​this school was inspired by the famous tune of Franz Schubert when naming the institution. But surprise!

Founder Tom Monaghan, who once owned Domino’s Pizza, actually took the name from Ave Maria, Florida, the place where the campus was permanently built. 😮

Oglethorpe University

Okay, Oglethorpe may sound like a villainous sidekick in a medieval fantasy film, but the person this university is named after is more of a hero in reality.

The main building of Oglethorpe University
This Georgia-based institution borrows the name of a general who fought for North American colonies and slaves. Photo: Distinguished Reflections/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

General James Edward Oglethorpe, the founder of the colony of Georgia, advocated for the eradication of slavery and prison abuse. 🦸 Oglethorpe also fought for the North American colonies’ right to trade freely.

Joliet Junior College

If there’s one name that we can all agree belongs on this list of weird college names, it’s this one. Some of you might have read the name wrong and thought it was something you’d find in a bathroom. 🚽

But actually, this college’s name is simply referring to Joliet, Illinois where its campus is located. 😵‍💫

Friends University

Is this a college where you can learn everything there is to know about the hit 90s sitcom Friends? 👯‍♀️

While that would be a dream for some, this is actually an institution headed by the Religious Society of Friends

St. Louis businessman James Davis gave the society an abandoned lot in 1898 but the group had to come up with $50,000 to serve as the college’s endowment on their own.💰

Bowdoin College

While it’s easy to think that this is pronounced as “bow down” with a bad Boston accent, it’s meant to be read as “bow-din” and not “baw-dawn.”

This college pays homage to former Massachusetts governor James Bowdoin, who is considered to be a hero of the Revolution for putting an end to Shays’ Rebellion. 🤑  

A scenic view of the Bowdoin College Chapel in Brunswick, Maine
This school’s name pays tribute to the Bowdoin family whose fortune was instrumental to the college’s success. Photo: Daderot/public domain

Wor–Wic Community College

It may be weird, but this college’s name is a fun portmanteau (when parts of multiple words are combined to create a new one) of the Worcester and Wicomico counties. 🤯

A campus shot of different buildings in Wor-Wic Community College
One of the catchiest yet weirdest college names came from mashing together the names of two counties where there operates as “a school without walls.” Photo: AviationFreak/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

The institution was built to become a college without walls, serving the need for vocational and technical education in the two counties.

Goucher College

Goo-cher? Goo-shay? 🤔 This private liberal arts college in Towson, actually pronounced Gaw-cher, was founded by a group of Methodist Episcopal Church leaders led by Rev. John Franklin Goucher.

While it was first called the Women’s College of Baltimore City, the school was later renamed after Goucher in 1910. 

Madonna University

Are you a fan of Madonna? 🎤 Prepare to be a little bit bummed that this university isn’t honoring the best-selling female recording artist of all time! 

So where does this weird college name come from then? Madonna is an artistic representation of the Virgin Mary — a perfect name for a Catholic institution. ✝️

Gustavus Adolphus College

This college has a name fit for a king! 🤴🏽 Swedish Lutherans living in Minnesota named the liberal arts college in honor of Gustav II Adolf. 

He was a renowned Swedish king who greatly influenced the educational system in their home country.

The snow-covered entrance and campus of Gustavus Adolphus College
Swedish members of the Lutheran church named this school after the influential King Gustav II Adolf who changed the educational landscape in Sweden. Photo: Tony Webster/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

Tougaloo College

Following in the footsteps of other schools, this historically Black college takes its name from the area where it stands: a county in Jackson, Mississippi

The history behind Tougaloo involves a famous court case called the Amistad where freed African slaves were accused of mutiny after killing their captors on a slave ship, leading to the creation of the American Missionary Association. 🛳

The Woodworth Chapel at Tougaloo College
The famous slave ship Amistad is tied to the history of this weirdly named college in Jackson, Mississippi. Photo: 2C2K Photography/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

Itawamba Community College

This community college serves the Itawamba, Pontotoc, Chickasaw, Monroe, and Lee counties; so it’s no secret where its name came from. 🤷🏼‍♀️

The two-year institution was born out of the Itawamba Agricultural High School, with college-level courses being introduced in 1941.

Hannibal-LaGrange University

Isn’t it funny how the name of this private Christian university in Missouri makes you think of Anthony Hopkins portraying maniacal cannibal Hannibal Lecter? 

But the truth behind the name is far less sinister. It pays homage to the 1928 merger between Hannibal College and LaGrange College (which both got their names from the land where they stand). 😂

Little Big Horn College

This tribal college, chartered by the Crow Tribe of Indians, found a name thanks to a story about a young boy thrown off the Basawaxaawuua (or Big Horn Mountains) by his stepfather. 

The boy’s family thought that he was dead, but seven big horn rams saved him, raised him (think Tarzan or The Jungle Book), and taught him about the big horn sheep way of life. 🐑

Chief Dull Knife College

Through its name, this community college continues to commemorate Chief Dull Knife, a significant and prominent leader of the Northern Cheyenne people. 🔪

The school changed its name to Chief Dull Knife College in 2001 to fully honor the great war captain who fought bravely to take back the tribe’s homeland in the 19th century.

Colgate University

Thinking about whether or not this university has anything to do with the toothpaste tube sitting on your bathroom sink? 🪥

The answer is yes! The Colgate family of the iconic toothpaste brand, more specifically William Colgate, was steadfast in their support for the institution — from money to counsel and active involvement.

Cape Fear Community College

Going by its name, this community college would have been the perfect setting for a horror movie. 🔪 

But the strange name of this seaside town has been in the mouths of explorers as far back as the 1500s because of the dangerous conditions sailors encountered in the area. 😱

Converse University

Sneakerheads may think that this university pays tribute to the classic footwear brand, but in reality, it was named after Dexter Edgar Converse, a pioneer of the cotton mill industry. 👟

The stunning Wilson Hall at Converse University
A cotton mill businessman lends his name to this Spartanburg-based college after donating a fortune to the school. Photo: PegasusRacer28/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

He dreamed of starting a college because he wanted his daughter Marie to gain every advantage she could. 😉

Sitting Bull College

We’ve covered a little big horn and a dull knife. Now, let’s talk about a college weirdly named after a horned animal that must’ve been tired from standing. 🐂

The Sitting Bull campus with its official signage bearing its logo at the foreground of the photo
The leaders of the Standing Rock reservation honored the brave Teton Dakota leader Sitting Bull by naming this college after him. Photo: US Department of Interior/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

The name refers to the renowned Teton Dakota leader who united the Sioux tribes against white settlers who wanted their land. The tension led to the Battle of Little Bighorn in 1876 which ended with the natives’ victory. 

Presentation College

Imagine a college where all you do is prepare and give out presentations — what a nightmare! 

This might be the picture in your head after reading this weird college name, but you don’t need to worry! The “presentation” is taken from the institution’s original sponsor: the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. ✝️

College of Wooster 

Are you sure this isn’t a typo? It turns out that this silly-sounding name is derived from a county in Ohio (and has nothing to do with roosters). 🐓

It was first called the University of Wooster by Presbyterians, back when it only housed ​​30 men and four women as students and five faculty members, before settling with the College of Wooster. 

a close-up picture of the main building at the College of Wooster
Much like other colleges with unique names, this Ohio-based institution took its moniker from the local county where it’s found. Photo: cogdogblog/Wikimedia Commons/CC2.0

Otterbein University

Ding, ding, ding! Another university with an animal in its name. 🦦

Otterbein was founded by the Church of the United Brethren in Christ, but we have the church’s founder, the Rev. Philip William Otterbein, to thank for the adorable moniker.

The Towers Hall at Otterbein University surrounded by lush greenery
It was the words of Philip William Otterbein that inspired the name of the Church of the United Brethren in Christ after saying “Wir sind Brüder” or “We are Brethren” during a sermon. Photo: Wdzinc/Wikimedia Commons/CC3.0

Oral Roberts University

Probably one of the weirdest college names we have here (the word “oral” really throws us off), this Tulsa-based institution got its title from the evangelist who founded it. 😮

The university started “as a result of the evangelist Oral Roberts’ obeying God’s mandate to build a university on God’s authority and the Holy Spirit.” 


That wraps it up! Who knew that the US had so many schools with the weirdest college names? 😱

But it’s important to remember that even if the name of your dream school conjures up a few chuckles, all that really matters is how it gets you closer to your goals.