The best Durham University Colleges with ranking

The Best Durham Colleges in 2024

Durham University is one of the UK’s oldest and most prestigious universities. With 17 colleges to choose from, it can be challenging to decide which one is the best Durham College for you. 

To help narrow down your options, we’ve researched and compiled a list of the best Durham colleges for 2024 based on key factors such as academic standards, student feedback, and facilities. 

Read our guide to find out what are the best Durham Colleges. 

If you consider seriously Durham, read also our guides:

How to Choose The Best Durham College

Choosing the best Durham college is an important decision for your UCAS application. A college community is a vibrant and diverse group of individuals who are not limited to those who reside within the college campus. 

This includes undergraduate and postgraduate students who may choose to live off-campus, faculty staff and alumni who have previously been a part of the college. 

Together, they form a dynamic and inclusive network of people who are connected by their shared experiences and affiliation with the Durham colleges and universities.

As you are set to spend a minimum of three years at Durham College, making the right decision is crucial. During this period, you will be immersed in campus life, establish new friendships, build partnerships, and acquire knowledge. 

Your choice will undoubtedly have a significant impact on your student life and overall experience at the University of Durham. 

Therefore, it is essential to carefully weigh your options and make a sound decision that aligns with your academic and personal goals.

When it comes to choosing a college at Durham University, there are several critical factors to take into account. 

Here is a full guide:

Firstly, the course you intend to study should be a primary consideration since different colleges specialise in particular subjects. Secondly, the location of the college is important as it can impact your daily commute and access to various amenities. 

Accommodation is another essential aspect to consider, with many colleges offering a range of options from catered to self-catered. 

Also, the size of the college should be taken into consideration, as smaller colleges can offer a more intimate and close-knit community. In contrast, larger colleges can provide a broader range of facilities and activities. 

The facilities offered by the college should also be evaluated, such as the availability of study spaces, libraries, and IT resources. 

Formal dinners are also something to consider as they can be a unique experience at the college. Durham Colleges are famous for Formal dinners where all students and member staff are in the old dining room (the inspiration for Harry Poter’s formal dinner at Hogvorts is from Durham). However, not all colleges have Formal dinners, so make sure to check this if it’s important for you. 

Maybe last but not less important are sports and extracurricular activities. Sports and extracurricular activities can play a vital role in enhancing your overall experience, so it is important to explore the various opportunities available at each college. 

Taking the time to consider each of these factors will help ensure that you select the best Durham college that is suited to your needs and interests. 

????Pro Tip: Talk with Alumni and visit Open Days to make a better decision. 

How many colleges are at Durham Uni?

Durham’s vibrant student life revolves around its 17 colleges, which offer an incredible array of student-led activities. 

There are 17 colleges at Durham University, each with its unique character and identity.

Whether you’re into sports, theatre, or music, or you want to explore new interests through volunteering or event organising, your College provides the platform to unleash your potential and gain valuable life skills.

Durham Colleges List

Here is a complete list of the 17 colleges at Durham University:

  1. Collingwood College
  2. Grey College
  3. Hatfield College
  4. John Snow College
  5. Josephine Butler College
  6. South College
  7. St Aidan’s College
  8. St Chad’s College
  9. St Cuthbert’s Society
  10. College of St Hild & St Bede
  11. St John’s College
  12. St Mary’s College
  13. Stephenson College
  14. Trevelyan College
  15. University College (Castle)
  16. Van Mildert College
  17. Ustinov College (Postgraduate only)

Durham Colleges Ranking in 2024

Undergraduate Durham Colleges rankings are always a contentious issue since they don’t have popular ranking tables like Norrington or Tompkins. Palatinate, an official student newspaper at Durham, developed Palatinate’s Evans Table. You can check rankings here.

However, we provide you with a Durham college ranking table based on the number of applicants and popularity, according to the official statistics report.

Here are Durham Colleges ranked in 2024.

PositionDurham CollegeNo of Applicants
1University College (Castle)2918
4St Mary’s1515
5St Cuthbert’s1456
6Josephine Butler1369
7St Chad’s1282
8St John’s1047
9John Snow888
11College of St Hild and St Bede555
13Van Mildert359
15St Aidan’s330
Durham Colleges Ranking in 2024

Evans Score Table Rankings 2023

Palatinate’s Evans Table is a ranking of Durham colleges by academic performance. It was developed and introduced for the first time in 2022. 

The Evans scoring system for Durham college rankings awards nine points for a first-class degree, four points for a 2:1, one point for a 2:2, and zero points for a Third or lower. The total score is then divided by the maximum possible score to determine a college’s annual – ‘Evans score. The rankings are based on the degrees awarded at the end of the academic year.

The Evans Score is named in honour of Sir Harold Evans, the former Sunday Times editor who passed away. Sir Harold was a renowned journalist and Durham University College graduate who was committed to promoting excellence in education and journalism.

RankedCollegeEvans Score
1South College0.72
2St Mary’s0.692
5Josephine Butler0.676
6St. John’s0.674
7Van Mildert0.65
8St. Chad’s0.646
9St Cuthbert’s0.644
10Hild Bede0.635
15John Snow0.59
16St. Aidan’s0.58

Durham Colleges Acceptance Rate

The overall acceptance rate for Durham University is 74%, according to the admission statistical report. However, if you are interested in a specific Durham college and do not want to make an open application, you may want to calculate your chances of being accepted. 

Below is a table of the acceptance rates for each Durham College for the 2020/2021 admission cycle:

CollegeAcceptance rate
St Chad’s40.02%
St Mary’s56.37%
St John’s58.83%
St Cuthbert’s74.93%
Josephine Butler83.49%
College of St Hild and St Bede89.73%
St Aidan’s90.00%
Van Mildert93.04%
John Snow94.48%
Durham Colleges Acceptance Rate

It’s important to note that these acceptance rates may vary from year to year and depend on various factors, including the number of applications received, the quality of applicants, and the number of available spots.

Learn everything in our guide:

Which is the hardest Durham College to get into?

The three most popular colleges in Durham, and hardest to get into,  are St Chad’s, University College, and St Mary’s. However, these colleges have significantly lower acceptance rates compared to the average. St Chad’s has an acceptance rate of 40%, University College (or Castle) has an acceptance rate of 45%, and St Mary’s has an acceptance rate of 56%.

What is the easiest Durham College to get into?

The easiest colleges to get into at Durham University are South College and Stephenson College with acceptance rates of 96.5% and 96%, respectively. Van Mildert and John Snow colleges have a slightly lower acceptance rate of around 94%. 

It is worth noting that these acceptance rates are significantly higher than the average acceptance rate at Durham University.

Durham Collegiate System

The collegiate system is unique to Durham University and is one of the reasons why the university is so highly regarded and recognised in the UK. It’s often compared to Oxford and Cambridge

Each Durham College has its character and identity, which creates a strong sense of community within the university. 

The collegiate system also means that students have access to a wide range of facilities, formal, sports activities and resources within their college, as well as across the university.

The Best Durham Colleges in 2024

It’s hard to rank which of the Durham colleges is the best. To help narrow down the options, we researched several key factors including the number of applicants, acceptance rate, quality of education, alumni and student feedback. Based on our findings, we have compiled a list of the 7 best Durham Colleges for 2024.

St Chad’s College

St. Chad’s College boasts a history that dates back to 1904, making it one of the oldest colleges at the University of Durham. The college is a part of the heart of medieval Durham and is renowned for its stunning location. It’s been considered one of the best Durham Colleges for years. 

Despite being one of the oldest Durham colleges, St. Chad’s maintains the highest academic standards while providing a relaxed, friendly, and supportive atmosphere for its students.

Students of one of the best Durham Colleges
Photo credits: Durham College

With a total of around 550 undergraduate and postgraduate students, St. Chad’s is a small but welcoming community. The college has an excellent reputation for challenging and supporting its students. 

Competition for the admission process is high, making St. Chad’s of the top 3 most popular colleges in Durham in terms of applications per place every year. St. Chad’s acceptance rate is around 40%.

St. Chad’s offers the best library facilities and extensive study spaces, setting it apart from other Durham colleges. 

Keep in mind, Chad’s students have outstanding academic results, with 92% graduating with a 1st or upper-second-class honours degree in 2022. If you are entering into this college, you will be part of the top academics in the University.

A unique aspect of St. Chad’s is that students wear their college gowns to formal events such as Formal hall, matriculation, and college congregations. Members of the college don academic gowns and gather for formal hall one or two times per week, a tradition that brings together students and staff. 

During formal hall, fellows, tutors, and their guests sit at the high table, further fostering a sense of community.

The college is a “recognised college” of Durham University, meaning it is not maintained or governed by the university. It’s a totally independent institution. Nonetheless, it maintains a strong reputation as one of the best colleges at Durham University.

University College (Castle)

University College, known as Castle, is the oldest college of Durham University, founded in 1832. For almost all Castlemans is the best Durham College. 

This friendly living community is home to approximately 750 undergraduates, 700 postgraduates, and 300 University staff members. With more than 500 students residing in Castle’s five accommodation areas, including the Castle itself and four nearby residences, it’s no surprise that it’s the most popular Durham College. 

One of the best Durham Colleges is University (Castle)
Photo credit: University of Durham

Due to its popularity, University College has a highly competitive admission process that receives numerous applications every year, with an acceptance rate of around 45%.

Castle offers a diverse range of facilities, including the Lowe Library, part of the Castle, the Undercroft, commonly known as “The Undie,” music rooms in Bailey Court accommodation, a small gym in Moatside Court, and a laundry in Bailey Court, open to both undergraduate and postgraduate students.

Since you will study and live in University College (Castle), you have access to a wealth of opportunities to explore your values, interests, course of study, and personal well-being. 

You can participate in team sports, design sets for plays, work out with neighbours, attend concerts, serve as a peer mentor, volunteer in the community, and more. 

University College students (Castlemans) have a busy schedule, but the atmosphere is friendly and they usually manage to balance study and social life. 

Students get three meals a day in the Great Hall of the Norman castle, situated on the Bailey. It’s worth mentioning that University College is the only UNESCO World Heritage site where people, known as Castlemen, currently live and study!

Every Tuesday and Thursday, Castle hosts Formals, where students are expected to dress smartly and wear gowns. Booking a seat costs 1 GBP. During Formals, everyone attending must stand when the High Table enters, when grace is being said or sung, and when the Senior Student is bowing out.

Recommended guides for reading:

Hatfield College

Hatfield College, established in 1846, is the second oldest Durham college. Positioned on one of the oldest streets in Durham, the college is laying between the banks of the River Wear and the World Heritage site of the Norman Cathedral.

Definitely in the top 3 best Durham Colleges. Also considered a posh college, since most of the students are from private schools. 

The college boasts a fantastic college spirit, bringing together people from diverse backgrounds to create a welcoming and inclusive community. You’ll feel a part of the community due to its friendly atmosphere, despite the “stereotype” that college is called the most hated at the university.

Hatfield College offers comfortable rooms, and its cleaners are friendly and attentive to the needs of students.

Like other Bailey Colleges, Hatfield College requires the wearing of undergraduate academic gowns for formal events, such as the matriculation ceremony and Formal dinners every week on Tuesday and Friday. 

Initially established as a more affordable alternative to University College, Hatfield College introduced communal dining as opposed to private meals delivered by a personal servant. Opposite Castle college. These two are the biggest rivals. 

Hatfield College is renowned for its sporting activities and has become dominant in collegiate tournaments. The college has produced successful rugby players and has become associated with rugby culture, often known for its boozy socials with grim initiations and general boisterousness.

St Mary’s College

St. Mary’s College is founded in 1899. It is among the oldest and best colleges in Durham. With a friendly and welcoming mixed community of about 750 undergraduates, 150 full-time, and 200 part-time postgraduates, the college provides a great academic experience. 

Its location is also an advantage, as it is close to the university’s central facilities and academic departments.

St Mary's College graduation ceremony for the best students
Photo credit: University of Durham, St Mary’s College

St. Mary’s College has a fantastic reputation for providing exceptional support to its students. Every student at St. Mary’s is assigned a mentor who guides and supports them throughout their college journey.

Although it was previously a girls’ college, St. Mary’s is now a unisex college with only one female block, leading some to perceive it as a girls’ college. The grounds of the college are well-kept, making it a pleasant place to be.

St John’s College

St John’s College in Durham University is a highly regarded institution and one of the two independent “recognised colleges” of the university, the other being St Chad’s. 

It is the second smallest college in Durham, which fosters a close-knit community where students are familiar with each other, regardless of their year, course or accommodation. 

St John's college at Durham is one of the best
Photo credit: University of Durham, St John’s College

First-year and most final-year students live within the college, whereas second-year students are expected to arrange their accommodation. 

Freshers Reps are elected, who are well-known throughout the college and provide one-on-one interaction, giving new students a more solid foundation during their first few weeks than in larger colleges.

St John’s has an excellent reputation for food, which is rated among the best in the university. (We are sure this is because of good deserts) 

The catering team is friendly and accommodating to various dietary requirements. The college is fully catered during term time, and self-catered packages are not offered. The college’s location on the Bailey is also a significant advantage.

Students of St John’s College benefit from free formal dinners, free coffee, and free laundry facilities, which are all well-liked by students. 

The college community is known for being friendly, which is something that all students seem to agree on.


Collingwood College is the largest college of Durham University and has approximately 1800 students, out of which around 520 students live within the college. The college was established in 1972 and was the first mixed-sex college in Durham. It is named after Sir Edward Collingwood, a famous mathematician.

Collingwood College has a great academic record and excels in sports and the arts. The college has an active student body, known as JCR, which organises various activities and events. The college has an informal and relaxing culture, making it an energetic and modern place to study. If you don’t like traditional colleges, you will like Collingwood. 

Collingwood College has several sports clubs and societies, such as The Woodplayers (Drama Society), Collingwood College Arts Society, Collingwood College Fashion Show, Collingwood College Boat Club, Collingwood College Rugby Football Club, and Collingwood College Cricket Club, and others. 

The college offers two types of accommodation, Standard and En-suite bedrooms. It is a fully catered college, providing three meals a day, seven days a week, to its residents. The cost of all meals is included in the residence fee. 

This can be discouraging for students who prefer to prepare their meals for some reason.

St Cuthbert’s

St Cuthbert’s or commonly known as Cuth’s, is founded in 1888 by students and prides itself on maintaining its independent spirit while offering all the benefits of being part of Durham University. 

The college does not have gowned formal dinners. Its accommodation options are varied and flexible, ranging from rooms in historic houses on the Bailey to modern self-catered flats at Parson’s Field. 

Cuth’s offers three catering options: catered, self-catering, or part-catered. The college boasts excellent IT facilities, including two computer suites with high-spec machines, large flat-screen monitors, and 24-hour access. WIFI is available throughout the college for convenience.

Map Of Durham Colleges

The map of Durham colleges provides an overview of the different colleges that are part of Durham University. 

These colleges are scattered throughout the city of Durham and vary in size and character, from the oldest and most traditional to the newer and more modern. 

Durham Colleges map serves as a useful tool for students and visitors alike to navigate and explore the various colleges, each with its own unique history, architecture, and academic and social opportunities.

Final Thoughts

Considering important factors such as the number of applicants, acceptance rate, quality of education, alumni and student feedback, we are able to rank the best Durham Colleges. And help you choose a college at Durham

From our research, St Chad’s College, University College (Castle), Hatfield College, and St Mary’s College are among the best Durham colleges in 2024. Each college has its own unique features, such as St Chad’s excellent library facilities and extensive study spaces, Castle’s diverse range of facilities, Hatfield’s welcoming and inclusive community, and St Mary’s modern facilities and close proximity to the city centre.


What is the poshest college in Durham?

Hatfield College has gained notoriety for being regarded as the poshest college, with a majority of its students having attended private schools in the UK.

What is the newest Durham College?

South is the most recent addition to Durham University’s college system, having been established in 2020.

Which Durham College is Castle?

“Castle,” which is the oldest of Durham University’s colleges, is affectionately known as University College. It offers a unique and supportive community that provides students with stimulating academic experiences, exciting social events, and valuable personal assistance.