Study in Georgia
The largest of the southern US states east of the Mississippi, Georgia does well to encapsulate everything the Deep South has to offer, from rural towns to sprawling and diverse cities. Its geography is also varied, with mountains in the north producing spectacular rivers, while the marshlands along the coast in the east are known for their fiddler crab habitations and long, wind-ravished cord grasses.
Nature is an important part of life in Georgia; the state even boasts its own ‘Seven Natural Wonders’. These include the Amicalola Falls, Okefenokee Swamp, Providence Canyon, Stone Mountain, Tallulah Gorge, Warm Springs and Radium Springs.
As a prospective student looking to study in Georgia, however, you’ll most likely be spending most of your time within the state’s key cities and towns, where the majority of the universities in Georgia are located.
State capital Atlanta is also the unofficial capital of the US South, due to its major role in the political, industrial and cultural reinvention and redevelopment of the region in the post-slavery era. Today, it holds significant educational clout, home to three universities ranked within the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings®.
Outside of the capital, traveling southeast towards the coast, is the small historic city of Savannah, a quaint image of preserved pre-war architecture and low-lying charm. Inch further out to the sea and the state’s coastal barrier islands offer up luxurious resorts as well as a plethora of nature reserves. Jekyll Island caters to the glamorous, while the more adventurous might prefer hiking in Cumberland Island, or following in the footsteps of the most famous pirate of the 17th century by exploring the so-called ‘wilderness area’ of Blackbeard Island.
Top universities in Georgia
Georgia Institute of Technology
Georgia’s highest ranked institution, the Georgia Institute of Technology, is among the world’s top 100 universities according to the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings, placed at 99th.
Based in Atlanta, the Georgia Institute of Technology, or ‘Georgia Tech’, is a public research university and one of 31 institutions in the University System of Georgia. Specializing in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), Georgia Tech performs well in programs such as statistics (4th in the world according to the 2014 QS World University Rankings by Subject), engineering (11th internationally for mechanical engineering), mathematics (18th) and computer science (31st). The school also takes great pride in claiming to be the US’s leading producer of bachelor’s degrees in engineering for female students.
Located in midtown Atlanta, a district known as ‘Atlanta’s Heart of the Arts’, the Georgia Institute of Technology benefits from a vibrant and active student culture which promotes a ‘work hard play hard’ ethos. Technology Square and Home Park are popular areas to eat and live for students and graduates alike.
The best known among private universities in Georgia is Emory University, which is within the top 150 in the 2013/14 QS World University Rankings. At subject level, it’s within the global top 100 for both medicine and English language and literature.
Emory University’s leafy campus is located to the southeast of Atlanta city center. The reason behind the school’s leafy appearance is due to the university’s policy of keeping more than half of its grounds as undeveloped green space. Emory University is an established leader in sustainable development, with continued efforts to make the school as sustainable as possible. It has pledged that by 2015, 75% of food served on campus will come from local and/or sustainable sources, and all new buildings are designed to comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design guidelines.
University of Georgia
Another notable institution in the University System of Georgia, alongside Georgia Institute of Technology, is the University of Georgia, the flagship university of the state and currently ranked at 411-420 in the world. A land grant and sea grant research university, the University of Georgia has prominent programs in agriculture and forestry (ranked 49th in the QS World University Rankings by Subject) and education and training (ranked joint 46th in the world).
The University of Georgia is the only ranked institution in Georgia to be located outside of Atlanta, in the college town of Athens, allowing for a 759-acre main campus. Athens is particularly renowned for its music and arts culture, home to rock band R.E.M, and hosts many festivals and events throughout the year, such as AthFest. Students wishing to experience big city life are just over an hour’s drive from Atlanta.
Georgia State University
Last but not least, Georgia State University, another public research institution within the University System of Georgia, is the fourth among universities in Georgia to make the international ranking. The school has a population of just over 32,000, having developed from a humble night school into a vibrant student community located in downtown Atlanta. The university is ranked within the world’s top 200 for English language and literature, and also for communication and media studies.
Top student cities in Georgia
The city’s population of five million continues to grow and diversify, while tourism is booming thanks to the shiny new Georgia Aquarium, two huge shopping malls, the World of Coca-Cola and Atlanta Zoo – home of famous giant panda cub Mei Lan.
It’s not just modern commerce that brings people to the area however; Atlanta plays host to a rich history, thanks to its position as a focal transportation hub during the Civil War and the fact that the entire city was burned to the ground in 1864 by Sherman’s army, rebuilding itself swiftly thereafter to take on the modern shape it holds today. Atlanta is also prominent for its history of African-American immigration and the communities that grew from this. Most notably, these communities produced Martin Luther King Jr, perhaps the most prominent civil-rights activist of the 20th century.
In the arts world, Atlanta also shines. The city’s urban and hip hop music scenes are particularly renowned, having produced multi-platinum-selling artists such as Ludacris, Outkast and Ciara. Arts and entertainment of all varieties thrive within Atlanta, including drama, classical music and ballet, visual arts, literature and more recently, film and television production.
Holding Georgia’s only ranked university outside of Atlanta, Athens is a small college town in the northeast of the state, just over an hour’s drive east of the capital. Home of the University of Georgia, Athens has long been shaped by its student community, giving the town a youthful, vibrant and innovative atmosphere. Well known for its music scene, Athens is the hometown of internationally loved bands ranging from R.E.M. to the B52-s and Of Montreal.
As well as popular music venues, restaurants, coffee shops and world-class bars, Athens hosts the Georgia Museum of Art and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. A town of tree-lovers, Athens is also home to the University of Georgia’s campus arboretum and the local landmark white oak tree known as the ‘Tree That Owns Itself’, a tree said to have legal ownership of itself and the land surrounding it!
Although not home to any internationally ranked universities, Savannah is a popular place to visit for students and tourists alike due to its century-old buildings and proximity to the coast and Georgia’s coastal islands. Sitting along the Savannah River, Savannah’s youthful atmosphere is largely due to the student population of the Savannah College of Art and Design (or SCAD), which makes sure that the city fosters innovation and modernity alongside its history and heritage.
Film fans will love Savannah, a city which celebrates the annual Savannah Film Festival and is home to the bench on which Forrest Gump uttered the famous phrase ‘life is like a box of chocolates’. If you’re not a fan of the supernatural, however, you may want to rethink your visit to Savannah. The city is known as ‘America’s Most Haunted City’ and has a number of tours dedicated to its strange happenings, including a history of fires, plagues, wars and voodoo.
Other cities to explore in Georgia include Columbus, Macon and Augusta.
Georgia: Fast facts
- In 2013, Georgia’s total population stood at just under 10 million.
- Georgia shares borders with Florida to the south, Alabama to the west, Tennessee and North Carolina to the north, and South Carolina and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.
- As a southeastern state, Georgia’s climate is humid subtropical – producing hot summers and mild winters.
- The state is home to 17 companies in the 2014 Fortune 500 list, including Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta Air Lines.
- Famous Georgians include civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr, former US president Jimmy Carter, musician Ray Charles, actress Julia Roberts and ‘professional egotist’ Kanye West.
- Georgia is known as the ‘Peach State’ due to its history of peach growing; California and South Carolina actually produce more peaches, but many would say Georgia’s are the most delicious.
- Georgia is home to 350 species of bird.
- In 1945, Georgia became the first state to lower the legal voting age from 21 to 18.
This article was originally published in November 2012 . It was last updated in September 2021