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What are common college school colors?

What are common college school colors?

School colors are an important part of a college’s identity and spirit. They are used extensively on uniforms, merchandise, facilities, and more. Many schools have had the same iconic colors for over a century. School colors create a sense of community and allow fans to show their support. Here we will explore some of the most popular school color schemes and the colleges associated with them.

Red and White

One of the most classic and recognizable color pairs is red and white. The contrast of bold red against crisp white evokes ideas of strength, passion, and excellence. Many long-standing academic institutions feature these colors.

  • Harvard University: Harvard Crimson and white are the official colors of one of the world’s most prestigious universities. Harvard was established in 1636, making it the oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
  • University of Alabama: Founded in 1831, Alabama’s red and white roll tide colors are iconic in college athletics. Alabama has claimed 17 national championships in football.
  • Indiana University: Since the late 19th century, Indiana University has paired red and white, with red taking prominence as the primary color. Their mascot is the Hoosiers.
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison: Wisconsin’s primary color is cardinal red, complemented by white. Their athletic teams are nicknamed the Badgers.
  • Ohio State University: With one of the largest student bodies in the nation, Ohio State is well-recognized for their scarlet and gray color scheme.

Blue and White

Similar to red and white, blue and white represent classic American colors. Many colleges use different shades of blue paired with white.

  • University of Michigan: Michigan’s maize and blue are iconic college colors, as one of the oldest public universities in the nation founded in 1817.
  • Pennsylvania State University: Since 1887, Penn State has used royal blue and white as their official colors. Their mascot is the Nittany Lions.
  • University of North Carolina: Light blue and white have represented UNC Chapel Hill since 1888. Powder blue is now a trademark Carolina color.
  • Duke University: Duke blue and white are synonymous with excellence in academics and athletics. The first students began attending in 1838.
  • University of Kentucky: Kentucky, with deep roots as early as 1865, wears royal blue and white. Their mascot is the Wildcats.

Orange and Blue

Vibrant orange paired with cool blue makes a bold, complementary combination for school pride.

  • University of Texas: Burnt orange and white have been Texas’ colors since 1883. The longhorn mascot is iconic.
  • University of Tennessee: Tennessee orange is one of the most recognizable hues in college sports. Their mascot is Smokey the bluetick coonhound.
  • Syracuse University: Syracuse orange is consistently ranked one of the strongest, boldest school color identities. Blue complements as an accent.
  • University of Illinois: Illinois orange and navy blue date back to 1868. The cheer “Oskee wow wow” represents their school colors.
  • Oklahoma State University: Oklahoma State has used orange and black since 1915. Their mascot is Pistol Pete.

Red and Blue

For schools seeking both the passion of red and the integrity of blue, the red and blue combination bridges energy and trustworthiness.

  • University of Maryland: Since 1912, Maryland has paired red and gold alongside black and white in later years.
  • Texas Tech University: Texas Tech’s official colors are scarlet red and black, dating back to 1932.
  • University of Mississippi: Ole Miss red and navy blue represent this historic southern school since 1893.
  • Miami University: Miami University in Ohio has used red and white colors since 1928.

Green and White

Green and white give off a crisp, traditional aesthetic. Green represents growth, health, and success.

  • Michigan State University: Michigan State green and white began use in the 1870s. Their mascot is the Spartan.
  • Northwestern University: Northwestern purple became a trademark color starting in 1984, alongside white.
  • Stanford University: Stanford Cardinal red and white began use in the 1930s. Tree mascot.
  • Oregon State University: Orange and black became Oregon State’s colors in 1893. Their mascot is Benny the Beaver.

Purple and Gold

Purple symbolizes royalty, luxury, and ambition. Paired with prestigious gold, purple and gold make regal school colors.

  • University of Washington: Purple and gold were established as the school’s official colors in 1896.
  • Northwestern University: Northwestern purple has been used since 1893. Their mascot is Willie the Wildcat.
  • Kansas State University: Kansas State has used royal purple and white since 1896. Their mascot is Willie the Wildcat.
  • Louisiana State University: Since 1893, LSU has used royal purple and gold. Their tiger mascot is Mike.

Navy and Gold

Navy is a deep, distinguished color denoting reliability and trust. Combined with gold, navy and gold makes a professional pairing.

  • University of California: Since 1874, UC Berkeley has paired navy blue and California gold.
  • University of Pittsburgh: Pitt’s school colors of navy blue and gold date back to 1908. Their mascot is the Panther.
  • Notre Dame University: Notre Dame’s colors are navy blue and gold. The Fighting Irish mascot is Leprechaun.
  • United States Naval Academy: As one may guess, Navy’s colors are navy blue and gold. Their mascot is Bill the Goat.

Maroon and Gold

Maroon is a deep reddish-purple that denotes prestige and dignity. With gold, maroon and gold makes a refined combination.

  • University of Chicago: Since 1892, Chicago maroon and white have signified this top Illinois institution.
  • University of Minnesota: Since 1896, Minnesota has used maroon and gold as official colors.
  • Texas A&M: Since 1876, Texas A&M has paired maroon and white. Their mascot is Reveille the dog.
  • University of Oklahoma: Crimson red and cream are Oklahoma’s colors, dating back to 1895.


College school colors are an integral part of identity and culture on campus. Many American universities have used the same colors for over a hundred years, establishing deep traditions. Popular color pairs like red and white, blue and white, orange and blue, purple and gold, and more each signify values and meaning unique to that institution. School colors unite students, alumni, and fans around the world in showing their college pride.

School Primary Color Secondary Color
Harvard University Crimson Red White
University of Alabama Crimson Red White
Indiana University Crimson Red White
University of Wisconsin-Madison Cardinal Red White
Ohio State University Scarlet Red Gray
University of Michigan Maize Yellow Blue
Pennsylvania State University Royal Blue White
University of North Carolina Light Blue White
Duke University Duke Blue White
University of Kentucky Royal Blue White
University of Texas Burnt Orange White
University of Tennessee Tennessee Orange White
Syracuse University Syracuse Orange Blue
University of Illinois Illinois Orange Navy Blue
Oklahoma State University Orange Black
University of Maryland Red Gold
Texas Tech University Scarlet Red Black
University of Mississippi Cardinal Red Navy Blue
Miami University Red White
Michigan State University Michigan State Green White
Northwestern University Purple White
Stanford University Cardinal Red White
Oregon State University Orange Black
University of Washington Purple Gold
Kansas State University Royal Purple White
Louisiana State University Royal Purple Gold
University of California Navy Blue Gold
University of Pittsburgh Navy Blue Gold
Notre Dame University Navy Blue Gold
United States Naval Academy Navy Blue Gold
University of Chicago Maroon White
University of Minnesota Maroon Gold
Texas A&M Maroon White
University of Oklahoma Crimson Red Cream