With over 15 years of experience as a webmaster, I have seen firsthand how WordPress has become the go-to choice for major organizations and universities looking for a robust and customizable content management system. Most people think of WordPress as a platform for blogging, but it has evolved to power over 35% of all websites on the internet. This includes many of the most prestigious and highly-trafficked university websites worldwide.
In this article, we will take a deeper look at some of the top colleges and universities utilizing WordPress.
- WordPress Usage in Higher Education
- Top Universities Powered by WordPress
- Why Universities Choose WordPress
WordPress Usage in Higher Education
Before diving into specific examples, let‘s briefly discuss why WordPress has been widely adopted by colleges and universities.
- Ease of use – WordPress is intuitive and easy to use for non-technical users. Admins can be trained quickly to create sites and content.
- Open source – WordPress is open source software with a vibrant developer community. There are thousands of free themes and plugins.
- Scalability – Built-in caching and load balancing capabilities allow WordPress sites to scale. Large university sites handle millions of views.
- Customization – Powerful customization options like templates, CSS, and plugins allow schools to achieve their desired branding and functionality.
- Cost – WordPress is free open source software. Hosting and development costs are also low compared to proprietary CMS options.
According to WordPress, over 600 universities have active WordPress sites including 42 of the 50 top universities as ranked by US News and World Report. Now let‘s look at examples from over 40 of these leading higher education institutions.
|University||WordPress Sites / Uses|
|Harvard University||Blogs, school departments|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)||Program sites, blogs|
|Stanford University||Student media, research labs|
|Yale University||Institutional news, climate change research|
|University of California, Berkeley||Academic department sites|
|University of Texas at Austin||Admissions blog, events|
|University of Washington||Initiative sites|
|University of Michigan||News, events, student media|
|University of Minnesota||Academic department sites|
|Pennsylvania State University||Academic sites, student groups|
Top Universities Powered by WordPress
1. Harvard University
The most prestigious US university, Harvard uses WordPress to power many of its school websites and blogs. For example, the Harvard Medical School publishes news on WordPress. The Harvard Kennedy School shares events and announcements via WordPress. Harvard Extension School utilizes WordPress for their online publication.
Different Harvard departments take advantage of WordPress flexibility to easily create sites that showcase their academics and research to the public.
2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
MIT, renowned for technology and engineering programs, relies on WordPress for key initiatives:
- MIT Energy Initiative – promotes energy research through their WordPress site
- Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) – showcases AI research
- MIT OpenCourseWare – their free courseware program is powered by WordPress
MIT leverages WordPress to rapidly set up sites for new outreach programs. The open source nature provides more control versus outsourcing.
3. Stanford University
Stanford University uses WordPress to support their student publications and media initiatives:
- Stanford Daily – student newspaper uses WordPress
- Stanford Arts Review – film and arts publication is WordPress-based
- Stanford Speakers Bureau – event site uses WordPress
For researchers and departments, WordPress gives Stanford labs and programs an easy way to set up project sites and share updates.
4. Yale University
Yale University takes advantage of WordPress in the following ways:
- YaleNews – central news site for the university via WordPress
- Yale Climate Connections – multimedia site for climate reporting
- Yale Program on Climate Change Communication – showcases climate change research
Like MIT and Harvard, Yale utilizes WordPress to give departments and scholars the ability to publish content independently.
5. University of California, Berkeley
UC Berkeley, renowned for academic excellence, uses WordPress to power sites across domains:
- UC Berkeley Physics – department website is via WordPress
- Math Undergraduate Student Association – student group uses WordPress
- UC Berkeley Food Institute – publishes food system research on WordPress
For one of the nation‘s largest public universities, WordPress provides reliability at scale along with branding consistency.
6. University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin employs WordPress strategically to engage prospective and current students:
- UT Austin Undergraduate Admissions – the admissions blog uses WordPress
- UT School of Information – events and news site powered by WordPress
- Texas Extended Campus – continuing education portal uses WordPress
WordPress gives UT Austin a cost-effective platform to highlight key programs and develop their brand identity.
7. University of Washington
The University of Washington maintains several key WordPress sites including:
- UW Population Health Initiative – showcases their health initiative
- Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies – publishes research
- The Australian Studies Center – portal for their Australian research programs
WordPress versatility and ease of use helps UW deploy sites for top-level programs spanning multiple departments.
8. University of Michigan
The University of Michigan utilizes WordPress across academic units:
- Michigan News – central news outlet powered by WordPress
- Michigan School of Public Health – publishes news and events via WordPress
- Michigan Robotics – institute site to share robotics research
- Michigan Daily – student newspaper uses WordPress
WordPress gives the University of Michigan‘s departments autonomy to manage and update their own sites.
9. University of Minnesota
The University of Minnesota Morris relies on WordPress for its academic disciplines like:
- UMM Biology – discipline site for news and events via WordPress
- Center for Small Towns – publishes community research on a WordPress site
- Office of Communications & Marketing – uses WordPress for press releases
WordPress allows University of Minnesota staff to frequently publish new information relevant for students.
10. Pennsylvania State University
Penn State is a major user of WordPress with over 42 active sites across domains such as:
- Eberly College of Science – used for the department site
- Center for Neural Engineering – publishes research on a WordPress site
- Student Affairs IT Group – helps student groups build WordPress sites
- Penn State News – official news powered by WordPress
Penn State takes advantage of WordPress flexibility for branding, customization, and cost savings.
Why Universities Choose WordPress
Through these examples, we see several key reasons higher education institutions select WordPress:
- Flexibility for departments to independently publish content
- Ability to quickly set up sites for programs and initiatives
- Customization for branding and functionality
- Scalability to handle large amounts of traffic
- Cost savings compared to commercial content management systems
- Intuitive interface for non-technical users
- Vibrant open source community supporting development
Given these benefits, we can expect WordPress usage in higher education to continue growing in the future.
WordPress has clearly moved beyond its roots as a simple blogging platform. Today, it powers over 35% of all websites and is the chosen content management system for many of the world‘s top universities.
The institutions we covered, from Harvard and MIT to the University of Michigan and UC Berkeley, demonstrate the versatility of WordPress. For these universities, WordPress provides an easy-to-use platform that is also highly customizable, scalable, and cost effective.
If you‘re looking to set up a website for your university department, student group, or personal blog, I highly recommend considering WordPress. With a little creativity, it can handle almost any web project.