Best Dorms at UW Madison (2024)

The best way to start your college experience at UW-Madison on the right foot is to pick a good dorm. You want to end up in the right dorm for your personality and mode of living. The studious introvert who lands in the Animal House party dorm is going to have a frustrating first year. The aspiring Van Wilder who ends up in a substance-free dorm far from central campus might self-combust from boredom.

The best dorms at UW Madison depend on you. If you want to be in the middle of the action, Sellery and Witte in the Southeast neighborhood are tops. If you prefer more peace and quiet and want to live by the lake, Dejope and Waters in Lakeside are great choices.

Best Dorms at UW Madison (1)

Table of Contents

  • UW Madison: Lakeshore vs. Southeast
    • Southeast Living
    • Lakeshore Living
  • Best Dorms at UW Madison: Southeast Neighborhood
    • Sellery Hall
    • Witte Hall
    • Smith Hall
    • Chadbourn Hall
  • Best Dorms at UW Madison: Lakeshore Neighborhood
    • Dejope Hall
    • Waters Hall
    • Adams Hall
    • Bradley Hall
  • The Bottom Line on the Best Dorms at UW Madison

If you’re attending the University of Wisconsin—Madison in the fall, first off, congratulations! Getting in is no small feat these days. The school consistently ranks among the top public universities in the country. Once you get on campus, you’ll realize why it’s so popular and sought-after. Madison is the consummate college town. Everything you could possibly want to do as a college student, you can do at UW-Madison. (OK, maybe not catch rays on the beach like at the University of Miami or UC Santa Barbara, or float in the lazy river like at LSU, but pretty much everything else.)

These next four years — or perhaps five or six — are going to be the time of your life. UW-Madison is huge and has something for everyone, and that includes freshman dorms. This guide will help you figure out the best dorms at UW-Madison based on what you’re looking for.

UW Madison: Lakeshore vs. Southeast

UW-Madison has two areas it calls “neighborhoods” where dorms are clustered: Southeast and Lakeshore. The first step to picking a dorm at UW-Madison is figuring out which neighborhood you want to live in.

Southeast Living

The Southeast neighborhood is in the heart of campus and integrated with downtown Madison. The dorms are mostly high-rises, as are many of the surrounding buildings. It’s busy, hectic, and sometimes loud, but there is always something going on, whether it’s a block party, a street fair, or people just strolling around at all hours.

When you live in a Southeast dorm, you’re close to everything: your classes, bars, restaurants, Greek houses, Camp Randall stadium, the basketball arena, and more. The downside is that the dorms themselves aren’t quite as nice as the ones in Lakeshore.

Southeast is ideal for social butterflies and extroverted students who want to hit the ground running in the social scene. If you’re most concerned with making friends fast and always having something to do on evenings and weekends, and you’re not as focused on having the plushest dorm room with the best amenities, look at the Southeast neighborhood first.

Lakeshore Living

The Lakeshore neighborhood runs along the shore of Lake Mendota at the far north end of campus. Few places in Madison are more picturesque. Compared to Southeast, the Lakeshore neighborhood is quieter and more serene, but it’s by no means dull. After all, it’s still home to thousands of 18 and 19-year-olds.

The dorms in Lakeshore as a whole are a step up in terms of quality from those in the Southeast neighborhood. That’s partly because they’re a little newer, a little smaller, and a little more stocked with amenities. But it also has to do with the fact that the neighborhood tends to attract quieter, less rowdy students.

Lakeshore is a good choice if you prefer more peaceful living. It doesn’t put you in the middle of all the action, and the walk to class is a bit longer — particularly if you’re an engineering student — but if you generally prefer to unwind rather than turn up after a long day, start your dorm search here.

Best Dorms at UW Madison: Southeast Neighborhood

Sellery Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (2)
  • Community: Southeast
  • Room style: Mostly doubles and triples. Also singles, quads, and hextuples.
  • Bathroom style: Hall
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: Some rooms/floors
  • Carpet in room: Some rooms/floors
  • Cost per semester: $3,800 (double room)

Sellery Hall is a high-rise dorm in the heart of campus. Home to mostly first-year students, it’s 11 floors of fun and hijinks. The double rooms are fairly large at 16’4″ by 12″, and rooms in the eighth floor and higher have air conditioning.

Badgers who live in Sellery their first year tend to develop a deep affinity for the dorm, more because of its vibrant social atmosphere than its opulent furnishings. As far as those go, Sellery is as “college dorm” as it gets: corridor-style rooms, hall bathrooms, cinderblock walls. But its popularity is unrivaled among UW-Madison’s freshman dorms.

Important: While the highest percentage of rooms in Sellery are doubles, followed by triples, there are a smattering of quads and even hextuples. Yes, some rooms in Sellery have six people, and no, they aren’t suites with multiple rooms — in case you need some fodder for your nightmares tonight. If you value your sanity, request a double or at most a triple. You barely even save any money with a quad or hextuple. They’re only about $350 to $500 less per semester.

Witte Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (3)
  • Community: Southeast
  • Room style: Mostly doubles with a few quads
  • Bathroom style: Hall
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Carpet in room: Yes
  • Cost per semester: $3,900 (double room)

Witte Hall is a massive residence hall in the Southeast neighborhood often referred to as Sellery’s twin. While it’s true the two dorms have similar interior layouts and both attract a social crowd, there are some differences.

Unlike Sellery, Witte has air conditioning in all its rooms, not just the top floor. That might not matter for most of the school year, but it can make a difference in August and early September. Also, Witte features only double rooms and quads, and the number of quads is tiny. There are no triples or hextuples. And once again, we strongly recommend going with a double over a quad. The headache of sharing a small space with three other people isn’t worth the few hundred dollars a semester you’ll save.

Smith Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (4)
  • Community: Southeast
  • Room style: Mostly doubles with a few singles, triples, and hextuples
  • Bathroom style: Shared by 3-4 rooms
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Carpet in room: Yes
  • Cost per semester: $3,800 (double room)

Open in 2006, Smith arguably has the nicest rooms and best amenities of the Southeast freshman dorms. It’s not quite as popular as Sellery or Witte because it has a reputation for being quieter and less social. But if you want a less frenetic environment without having to live out in Lakeshore, Smith might be for you.

Smith’s amenities include classrooms, a soundproof music room, a Starbucks, and high ceilings both in the common areas and in rooms.

Chadbourn Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (5)
  • Community: Southeast
  • Room style: Mostly doubles with some triples and quads
  • Bathroom style: Hall
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Carpet in room: Yes
  • Cost per semester: $3,925 (double room)

Chadbourn Hall has updated amenities including carpeted and air-conditioned rooms on every floor. It also has one of the most convenient locations on campus. One of UW-Madison’s most popular dining markets is attached, and several bus stops are within a short walk of the building.

Because Chadbourn tends to attract students across multiple class years, not just first-years, as well as students from diverse backgrounds and majors, it has a more subdued social scene than the freshman frenzy found in Sellery and Witte. But it fosters a tight camaraderie every year, and friends made in Chadbourne tend to remain close throughout their college years and beyond.

Best Dorms at UW Madison: Lakeshore Neighborhood

Dejope Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (6)
  • Community: Lakeshore
  • Room style: Mostly doubles with some triples and quads
  • Bathroom style: Shared by 5-6 rooms
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: Yes
  • Carpet in room: Yes
  • Cost per semester: $3,925 (double room)

Dejope is one of the newest residence halls on UW-Madison’s campus, opened in 2012. It has been described by residents as “hotel-like” and “a palace.” Its layout is actually pretty standard for a freshman dorm: mostly doubles arranged into clusters of five to six rooms that share a common bathroom. Its sleek interior architecture and modern comforts like air conditioning and carpet are what make it feel so upscale.

If you like getting away from the hustle and bustle and taking in the scenery, Dejope has one of the best locations on campus, right on the shore of Lake Mendota. Socialize with friends on the terrace overlooking the lake, or when it’s chilly out at night — which is like 80% of the school year in Madison — gather around the fire pit between the dorm and the lake.

Waters Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (7)
  • Community: Lakeshore
  • Room style: Doubles
  • Bathroom style: Hall
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Carpet in room: Yes
  • Cost per semester: $3,600 (double room)

Waters is another Lakeshore dorm offering breathtaking views and tranquil scenery. It doesn’t have quite the amenities of Dejope — the rooms aren’t air conditioned, for one thing — but it is less of a haul to central campus and most academic buildings, which some students consider a more-than-fair trade-off.

Residents’ favorite features of Waters Hall are its large double rooms, lake views, and quiet but social atmosphere. Tight friendships form in the hallways and common areas of Waters.

Adams Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (8)
  • Community: Lakeshore
  • Room style: Singles, doubles, and triples
  • Bathroom style: Hall
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Carpet in room: No
  • Cost per semester: $3,500 (double room)

If you love the outdoors, Adams offers an ideal location for running, biking, pickup sports, and more. The dorm backs up to Lake Mendota and is a short walk to Observatory Hill.

Its rooms aren’t big, nor are they plush — neither air conditioning nor carpet is offered — but Adams has one big advantage over most freshman dorms at UW-Madison: a high percentage of single rooms. If you value your personal space and don’t want to play roommate roulette, this is the dorm you should try to get into.

Bradley Hall

Best Dorms at UW Madison (9)
  • Community: Lakeshore
  • Room style: Doubles
  • Bathroom style: Hall
  • Sink in room: No
  • Air Conditioning: No
  • Carpet in room: Yes
  • Cost per semester: $3,600 (double room)

Bradley’s claim to fame is that it’s reserved entirely for freshmen. So, all your neighbors and hallmates will be in the same boat as you. No upperclassmen who already know each other and know their way around campus. Bradley doesn’t have the plushest amenities — the double rooms are on the smaller side at 15’10” by 10’7″, and they aren’t air conditioned — but it manages to engender loyalty. About 60% of students who live in Bradley their first year choose to live there again their second year. On a campus where almost everyone moves off campus starting sophom*ore year, that’s almost unheard of.

The Bottom Line on the Best Dorms at UW Madison

UW-Madison is an amazing place to go to college. There’s a reason Badgers are so loyal to their alma mater. But getting in the wrong dorm for your personality and living style can create a rocky start to your time in Madison. You only get four years there (psst: we won’t judge you if it ends up being more!), so don’t waste any of that time in a living situation that makes you miserable. Fortunately, UW-Madison has something for everyone.

The best dorms at UW Madison depend on your own needs and wants, so study this guide carefully and ask a lot of questions when you’re on campus. Connect with current students on social media ahead of time and ask them about their freshman dorm experience. The more armed you are with knowledge going into the process, the better decision you’ll make. On Wisconsin!

Best Dorms at UW Madison (2024)


What is the nicest residence hall at UW-Madison? ›

Kronshage Residence Hall is the best of both worlds, in that it offers residents both a small and large community feel in its living environment.

What are the party dorms at UW-Madison? ›

Witte and Sellery are known as the “party” dorms on campus. They're still nice places to live and there's a really good sense of community. The lakeshore dorms are closer to the engineering campus if that helps at all. The Engineering campus is closer to West Campus whereas the Southeast dorms are on East Campus.

Where do freshmen live at university of Wisconsin Madison? ›

The only exclusively freshmen residence hall on campus, Bradley Residence Hall is a popular option for many students embarking on their Wisconsin Experience at UW-Madison. Bradley is home to the Bradley Learning Community, which focuses on the transition from high school to being a Badger.

Is Sellery a good dorm in UW-Madison? ›

87% of reviewers would recommend

From huge TVs and study rooms to luxurious toilets (*single use bathrooms) and entertainment such as pool or ping pong, this building has enough to keep any student fulfilled! Living at sellery is less about the building and the rooms, but about the people you meet.

What is the best area to live in Madison, WI? ›

Here are the best Madison neighborhoods!
  • Dudgeon-Monroe | Best Madison Neighborhood For Young Adults & Students.
  • Maple-Prairie | Trendy Neighborhood In Madison.
  • Hill Farms-University | Historic Madison Neighborhood.
  • Westmorland | Family-Friendly Neighborhood In Madison.
  • Wexford Village | Safest Madison Neighborhood.

What are the newest residence halls at UW? ›

The new dorms are named McCarty, Willow, and Madrona. They are built in the style of the West Campus dorms, with large rooms, kitchens, and private bathrooms offered, according to UW Housing & Food Services (HFS).

Are UW-Madison dorms first come first serve? ›

Housing assignments at UW-Madison are not first come first serve, so you don't need to sign your contract early.

What is the oldest dorm at UW-Madison? ›

Built in 1913, Barnard Residence Hall is the oldest existing residence hall on campus. Don't let its age fool you, though, as it has also undergone a series of renovations that include new resident room flooring, walls and ceilings that give the building a more modern feel.

Is UW-Madison a pretty campus? ›

Visiting for a conference and the campus is stunning. I love the old architecture mixed with modern. The views from the overlook, how pedestrian friendly campus is, the sheer size of it all.

What is the most popular degree at UW-Madison? ›

The most popular majors at University of Wisconsin--Madison include: Computer and Information Sciences, General; Economics, General; Psychology, General; Finance, General; Biology/Biological Sciences, General; Political Science and Government, General; Neuroscience; Marketing/Marketing Management, General; Mathematics, ...

How prestigious is UW-Madison? ›

University of Wisconsin Madison is ranked #74 in Best Global Universities. Schools are ranked according to their performance across a set of widely accepted indicators of excellence. Read more about how we rank schools.

Is UW-Madison a top 10 school? ›

UW–Madison moves up U.S. News list, ranked 38th overall and 10th best public.

What is the best dorm? ›

25 Best College Dorms in the US (2024)
  • 1) Washington University in St. Louis.
  • 2) High Point University.
  • 3) Emory University.
  • 4) Johnson University.
  • 5) Scripps College.
  • 6) Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering.
  • 7) Bowdoin College.
  • 8) Pitzer College.
Mar 12, 2024

What is the acceptance rate for UW-Madison residents? ›

UW-Madison enrollment data shows the percentage of Wisconsin residents admitted was around 61 percent this fall, which is slightly higher than it was the same time last year. The admission rate for out-of-state students from the U.S. and beyond was a combined 75 percent.

Is UW-Madison an elite school? ›

The University of Wisconsin–Madison is again being recognized as one of the world's top learning institutions, placing 39th overall in the 2023 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings.


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