The Top 10 Olympic Colleges & Universities in the U.S.

The 2016 Summer Olympics kicked off last Friday with the opening ceremony in Rio De Janeiro, and since then, we couldn’t help but notice some of our favorite college athletes take the games by storm.

In celebration of this incredible talent and collegiate athletics across the nation, we thought it fitting to point the spotlight at some of the most decorated U.S. colleges and universities in the history of the Olympic games. We took a look at the numbers and compiled a list featuring the ten American colleges or universities with the most Olympic medals won by students, past or present.

Here are our top 10 Olympic colleges and universities in the United States:

usc trojan

Tommy Trojan stands proud at USC. (Flickr)

1. University of Southern California

The University of Southern California proudly sits at the top of our list of Top 10 Olympic Colleges & Universities, earning a record 288 Olympic medals through the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Of its 288 medals, an impressive 135 of them were gold, totaling more than any other college or university in the nation. Even further, USC has managed to take home a gold medal at every summer games since 1912.

Many have credited the school’s impressive Olympic repertoire to its prime, southern California location. Temperatures in Los Angeles, home to USC’s main campus, rarely dip below the 50’s and 60’s, making year-long training for both indoor and outdoor events not only possible but highly encouraged. Because of this, USC has attracted some pretty incredible athletic talent over the years, including Louis Zamperini, Charles “Charley” Paddock and John Naber, to name a few.

This year, 44 of its finest past, present, and future Trojans will be representing USC at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro, 13 of which will compete for Team USA. Feel free to brace yourselves for another slew of wins.

2. Stanford University

Barely lagging behind USC, Stanford University has garnered a total of 280 Olympic medals and is a lead generator of aquatic sports medalists for colleges and universities in the United States. Notable Stanford-bred competitors include Debi Thomas, the first African-American athlete to earn a medal at the Winter Olympics, and Jenny Thompson, recipient of the 1994-95 Honda Sports Award and one of the most decorated Olympians in U.S. history.

The school is home to the Avery Aquatic Center, an impressive outdoor pool complex that, according to Stanford, is “one of the fastest pools in the United States and perhaps the world.” The Center has hosted the USA Olympic Swimming Team on multiple occasions.

This year, Stanford will send 29 of its best and brightest to Rio to compete for Team USA, more than any other college or university in the U.S.


With a total of 224 medals to date, UCLA ranks third on our list and is considered a powerhouse of talent in the Olympic games. UCLA’s list of revered Olympic alumni includes, most notably, Florence Griffith Joyner, who dominated the 1988 Seoul Olympics and holds world records for both the 100m and 200m races.

Excluding 1924, at least one Bruin has competed for a spot on the Olympic podium since 1920, and this year will be no exception. The school is sending 36 of its members to the 2016 Summer games, 15 of which will compete for Team USA.

4. University of California, Berkeley

UC-Berkeley is the fourth California school on our list as well as the fourth most decorated U.S. college or university in Olympic history. The school has racked up a total of 185 medals, more of them gold than bronze and silver combined.

The school seems to excel in the realm of competition swimming, with more than a handful of Berkeley students having earned a spot on the U.S. Olympic swim team. Included in this list is twelve-time medalist Natalie Coughlin, whose record accomplishments have paved the way for female athletes across the globe.

UC-Berkeley will send 50 of its best athletes to compete in Rio in this year’s summer games, more than any other university in the U.S. 15 of these will compete for Team USA.

#5. University of Michigan

The University of Michigan has managed to obtain 134 medals since its first appearance in the 1900 Olympics. The school’s swimming and diving program is one of the best in the country, and it is not uncommon for more than one Wolverine to claim a spot on the podium during the summer games.

Possibly the brightest of U-M’s Olympic stars is competitive swimmer Michael Phelps, whose prowess in the pool has earned him the title of the most decorated Olympian of all time.

33 athletes will represent the University of Michigan at this year’s Olympic games, eight of which will compete for Team USA.

#6. University of Texas at Austin

Though it is a member of the Big 12 Conference and is often praised for its athletic programs, what many don’t know is that the University of Texas is a breeding ground for Olympic talent. The school narrows in at number six on our list with 130 medals won by Texas Longhorns since 1936. Among these competitors is Mary Lou Retton, the first American to win the all-around gold medal in women’s gymnastics, among other accomplishments.

A total of 12 UT Austin-affiliated individuals will head to Rio this summer to compete for Team USA.

#7. University of Florida

The Florida Gators are no strangers to the Olympics, having earned a total of 108 medals throughout the school’s Olympic career. Though they’re tied with Harvard for total medals won, the University of Florida comes in at number seven on our list, with 50 of the 108 being gold.

This year, nine more Gators will join the ranks of fellow UF Olympians like Dara Torres and Frank Shorter to compete for the U.S. in the 2016 Summer games.

#8. Harvard University

Of the nation’s many colleges and universities, Harvard University has possibly one of the longest histories with the Olympic games, dating back to the late 1800’s. Since then, the school and its athletes have managed to earn a total of 108 medals. Among these winners are notable Olympians Nathaniel Niles, Tenley Albright, and Manuel Diaz.

This year, four more Harvard-bred athletes will join Team USA and compete in the 2016 Olympics.

#9. Yale University

In addition to housing some of the brightest students across the country, Yale University has cranked out some pretty accomplished Olympians over the years. In total, 104 Olympic medals were taken home by past and present Bulldogs, including Eddie Eagan, who remains the only athlete in history to earn a medal at both the Winter and Summer games.

Four more students will represent both Yale and Team USA at this year’s Olympics.

#10. The Ohio State University

The tenth and final school on our list, the Ohio State University, has a total of 100 Olympic medals won by Buckeyes since the school’s first appearance at the games.

Arguably the most significant of these accomplishments took place at the 1936 Berlin games, when African-American runner Jesse Owens, (nicknamed the “Buckeye Bullet,” took home four gold medals despite a burning prejudice by the Nazi regime.

Four additional Buckeyes will follow in his footsteps and join Team USA to compete in the 2016 Olympic games.

Make sure to tune in this month and cheer on your school’s competitors as they go for the gold during the 2016 Olympic games.

Callie Kollenbroich has been the Operations Coordinator and Content Writer/Editor at Rent College Pads since 2015. When she's not working, you can find her at home, eating peanut butter out of the jar and bingeing an unhealthy amount of Forensic Files. She's not as lame as she sounds.

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