Where is Washington University located?

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Students walking towards the Washington University

Washington University, or WashU, is a top university known for its world-class academic practices. Many upcoming college students consider the school to be their top choice because of its reputation. But where is Washington University located? How does its location contribute to its success as an institution for higher education?

In this blog, we discuss where the university is located. We will also provide a list of the famous facilities and landmarks that can be found in the campus.

Where is Washington University located?

Washington University, also known as Washington University in St. Louis or WashU, is located in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The main campus, known as the Danforth Campus, is in the western part of the city, near the municipalities of Clayton and University City. The university also has a medical campus located in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis.

Address: 1 Brookings Dr, St. Louis, MO 63130, USA

WashU infrastructures

Washington University in St. Louis has six campuses:

  • Danforth Campus: The main campus is located in the western part of St. Louis near Clayton and University City. On this campus, the majority of the university’s academic and administrative buildings can be found.
  • Medical Campus: This campus is home to the School of Medicine and affiliated hospitals. Located in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis, it includes medical institutions like the Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
  • West Campus: Located in Clayton, Missouri, it is used for administrative offices, university archives, and other support services. It also houses the West Campus Library.
  • South Campus: This campus, located in the south has athletic fields, a huge gymnasium, an auditorium/theater, and some classroom facilities.
  • North Campus: This campus is primarily used for administrative and support functions. It is located just north of the Danforth Campus.
  • Tyson Research Center: This world-class center is a 2,000-acre outdoor laboratory for learning and research.

WashU’s campus blends traditional collegiate Gothic architecture with modern buildings perfectly. It offers a campus life like no other, with numerous student organizations, cultural events, and athletic activities. It is known for promoting a diverse and inclusive community with students from all 50 states and over 100 countries.

The campus is located in a culture-rich and historic city which perfect mix with WashU’s academic excellence. It ranks #32 in Best Global Universities and #24 in National Universities by U.S. News.

How big is the Washington University campus?

Washington University in St. Louis has a total of more than 2,000 acres, including its other campuses. The Danforth Campus covers 169 acres, while the Medical Campus spans over 164 acres, covering 17 city blocks. The latter is home to the School of Medicine and the hospitals and research facilities that are connected to it. Lastly, The Tyson Research Center is a 2,000-acre outdoor laboratory focused on extensive research. It is located 25 miles southwest of the Danforth Campus.

Is Washington University private or public?

Washington University in St. Louis is a private university. Founded in 1853, it operates as a private research institution that offers a wide range of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degree programs​.

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) was founded by a group of St. Louis business, political, and religious leaders led by Unitarian minister William Greenleaf Eliot and attorney Wayman Crow.

They named the school after George Washington and aimed at providing higher education opportunities in the rapidly growing city of St. Louis and the broader Midwest region. The campus’ initial location was in St. Louis. It used to offer both primary and secondary education then while the college programs were introduced later to help address the community’s educational needs.

walkway lined with trees at both side at the Washington University in St. Louis

WashU was then planned to be moved to a bigger location by the start of the 1900s. When the university was able to acquire a huge chunk of land in the western part of the city, that was when the Danforth Campus was developed. It officially opened in 1905. The new campus was designed by then-famous architectural firm Cope and Stewardson; they were inspired by the Gothic architecture of the Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Through the years, WashU has become a private research university that is recognized not just in the country but the entire world for its commitment to academics and research excellence

What are the facilities available at Washington University?

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) provides extensive facilities across its campuses to support academic, research, and student life. These include academic buildings, research centers, libraries, athletic complexes, and administrative and support buildings.

Danforth Campus

  • Brookings Hall: The center of administrative services at the university; it features the iconic Collegiate Gothic architecture.
  • Olin Library: The main library offering impressive research resources, study spaces, and special collections.
  • Sumers Recreation Center: A state-of-the-art athletic facility with fitness equipment, swimming pools, and courts for various sports.
  • Danforth University Center: A center for student activities, dining, and events. It provides spaces for meetings and social gatherings for students and faculty members.
  • Brown School: Home to the School of Social Work and Public Health; it features modern classrooms and research facilities.
  • McKelvey School of Engineering: Includes several specialized engineering labs and classrooms for various engineering disciplines.
  • Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts: Houses studios, galleries, and classrooms for art, architecture, and design students.
  • Edison Theatre: A performance venue hosting university and community events, including theater productions and concerts.

Medical Campus

  • Barnes-Jewish Hospital: A major teaching hospital connected with WashU’s School of Medicine
  • St. Louis Children’s Hospital: Provides pediatric care and serves as a training and research center for medical students and residents.
  • Washington University School of Medicine: Features cutting-edge research labs, classrooms, and clinical training facilities; WashU’s medical school.
  • Siteman Cancer Center: A leading cancer treatment and research facility affiliated with the Medical Campus.

West Campus

  • West Campus Library: A library focused on housing archives and special collections, as well as administrative offices.

Additional Facilities

  • Danforth House: Residential halls providing accommodation for students
  • Francis Gymnasium: A historic gymnasium used for sports and fitness activities, part of the larger Sumers Recreation Center complex.
  • Graham Chapel: A historic chapel used for concerts, lectures, and university ceremonies.

What is outside the Washington University campus?

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is situated in a culture-rich area that offers various attractions and amenities just outside its campuses. Here are some notable locations and features surrounding the university:

Thinking student sitting and holding a book in the park.

Near the Danforth Campus

  • Forest Park: One of the largest urban parks in the United States, Forest Park is next to the Danforth Campus. It offers attractions such as the Saint Louis Zoo, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the Missouri History Museum, and the Saint Louis Science Center. The park also has numerous walking and biking trails, sports facilities, and picnic areas​.
  • The Delmar Loop: A lively entertainment and dining district located just north of the Danforth Campus. The Delmar Loop features a variety of restaurants, shops, music venues, and the iconic Tivoli Theatre.
  • Clayton: The neighboring city of Clayton, located west of the Danforth Campus, is the center of business and commerce for St. Louis County. It features plenty of office buildings, big shopping centers, dining options, and residential areas. Clayton is also home to Shaw Park, which has athletic facilities, an ice rink, and a pool​ (Washington University in St. Louis)​.

Near the Medical Campus

  • Central West End: This historic neighborhood is adjacent to the Medical Campus and offers a mix of residential, retail, and dining options. The Central West End also hosts the annual Central West End Art Fair and Taste​.
  • Cortex Innovation Community: Located near the Medical Campus, Cortex is a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. It houses research institutions, startups, and established companies in technology and life sciences.

General Area

  • Museums and Cultural Institutions: St. Louis is home to museums and cultural institutions outside the immediate vicinity of WashU. These include the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation, and the Missouri Botanical Garden, which offers beautiful landscapes and extensive plant collections.
  • Dining and Entertainment: The area surrounding WashU is rich with dining and entertainment options, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining restaurants. Areas like the Delmar Loop, Central West End, and Clayton offer a wide variety of cuisines and nightlife activities​.

What are the famous landmarks inside the Washington University campus?

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) boasts several famous landmarks that are known for their historical and cultural significance. Here are some of the most prominent landmarks within the WashU campus:

  • Brookings Hall: One of the most iconic buildings on campus, Brookings Hall is known for its Collegiate Gothic architecture and serves as the administrative center of the university. It is often featured in university promotional materials and is a central symbol of WashU​.
  • Graham Chapel: This beautiful chapel is used for concerts, lectures, and ceremonies. Its Gothic Revival architecture and stained glass windows make it a perfect location for many university events​.
  • Francis Field and Gymnasium: These facilities were used during the 1904 Summer Olympics, which were held togetther with the St. Louis World’s Fair. Francis Field continues to be used for athletic events and is a National Historic Landmark​.
  • Ridgley Hall, with its historic Holmes Lounge, is another example of the Collegiate Gothic architecture that characterizes much of the Danforth Campus. Holmes Lounge is a popular spot for students to relax and study.​
  • Anheuser-Busch Hall: Home to the Washington University School of Law, this building combines modern amenities with classic architectural elements and is a center for legal education on campus​.
  • Givens Hall: Houses the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and features studios, galleries, and classrooms for art, architecture, and design students.

What are the available housing options at Washington University?

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) provides various housing options for both undergraduate and graduate students in order to accommodate a range of housing preferences and needs.

Residential Colleges

South 40 

This includes ten residential colleges, each with its own unique community. The South 40 is primarily for first-year and sophomore students. This residential complex features modern dormitories, dining areas, and recreational spaces. Notable residential colleges include:

  • Liggett/Koenig Residential College
  • William Greenleaf Eliot Residential College
  • Thomas H. Eliot Residential College
  • Judd and Gregg Residential College

The Village

Another residential area for upperclassmen offers suite-style living arrangements with shared common spaces and kitchen facilities.

two female students talking inside a dorm room

Upperclass Housing

  • Village East: Apartments with single and double occupancy rooms dedicated to juniors and seniors.
  • The Lofts: Off-campus apartments that provide an independent living experience while connecting to university amenities and services.

Graduate Housing

  • Quadrangle Apartments: These apartments are available to graduate and professional students near the Danforth Campus. They have a variety of apartment types, including studios, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom units.
  • Off-Campus Housing: WashU provides resources and support for students seeking off-campus housing options. The university’s off-campus housing office assists students in finding the most suitable accommodations in nearby neighborhoods.

Special Interest Housing

  • The Village: In addition to traditional upper class housing, The Village includes special interest housing options where students can live with others who share common academic or extracurricular interests.
  • Fraternity and Sorority Housing: WashU offers housing for members of Greek life organizations, providing a close-knit community environment with the added benefit of being near campus facilities and events.

What is Washington University’s impact on St. Louis, MO?

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) has been and continues to be a key player in the development of the city of St. Louis, MO. It has impacted and influenced various sectors of the community. This includes healthcare, education, economy, arts, and culture.

WashU is one of the largest employers in the St. Louis region. Over the years, it has provided thousands of jobs directly through the university and indirectly through related services and industries. The university’s astronomic spending on sectors like research, construction, and administrative operation has positively affected the St. Louis economy.

In 2018, it was reported that WashU’s annual economic impact is at around $2.5 billion. The major players in this phenomenon are the WashU-affiliated medical institutions like Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

One of the top medical schools in the country, WashU’s School of Medicine, plays an important role in providing high-quality healthcare through partnerships with Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children’s Hospital. These institutions offer advanced medical treatments and serve as major and primary healthcare providers in the region. The university’s medical research also contributes to healthcare advancements which also attracts generous federal and private research funding.

Moreover, WashU is also active in socio-civic engagements. They actively participate in educational outreach programs that are aimed at improving local education. Initiatives like the Institute for School Partnership work with local schools to enhance STEM education and provide professional development for teachers. The Gephardt Institute for Civic and Community Engagement on the other hand promotes volunteerism and service-learning. 

Furthermore, The Institute for School Partnership (ISP), a WashU initiative, aims to collaborate with local schools to promote and highlight STEM education. The initiative includes providing professional development for teachers, creating innovative curricula, and encouraging partnerships between the university and K-12 schools.

Group of students walking in the campus.

WashU’s College Advising Corps puts fresh graduates in under-resourced high schools in the St. Louis area to help students with the college admissions process. The main purpose of this program is to promote the university and increase college enrollment and completion rates among underserved populations.

In addition, Washington University also has programs that offer scholarships for students where the campus is located. The Washington University Scholars Program offers scholarships to high-performing students from the St. Louis area. These programs help remove financial barricades and bridge educational gaps that are rampant in the area.

Faculty members from WashU are also actively in community involvement through outreach and education initiatives. Dr. Victoria May, Executive Director of the ISP, leads efforts to connect university resources with local schools. These educational programs and initiatives led by Washington University in St. Louis play an important role in improving educational opportunities and outcomes in the St. Louis region.

Overall, Washington University in St. Louis significantly enhances the city’s economic progress, quality of healthcare services, educational opportunities, community development, and cultural richness. Its presence and activities benefit the university community and the broader St. Louis region.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where is Washington University located?

Washington University, also known as Washington University in St. Louis or WashU, is located in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. The main campus, known as the Danforth Campus, is in the western part of the city, near the municipalities of Clayton and University City. The university also has a medical campus located in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis.

What city is Washington University close to? 

Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is located in St. Louis, Missouri. The main Danforth Campus is in the western part of St. Louis, near the city’s boundary with Clayton. The distance places WashU close to both the urban community of St. Louis and the business district of Clayton.

Is Washington University a top school?

Yes, Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is considered a top school, consistently ranking highly in different national and global university rankings. WashU is ranked #15 among National Universities in the 2023-2024 edition of U.S. News & World Report​. In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024, WashU is ranked among the top 50 universities globally.

Is Washington University an Ivy League School?

No, Washington University in St. Louis (WashU) is not an Ivy League school. While WashU is not part of this group, it is still considered a top-tier institution. It consistently ranks highly in various national and global university rankings and is recognized for its strong academic programs, faculty, and research contributions. WashU is often compared to Ivy League schools due to its high academic standards and prestige.


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