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Night Owl U: Ranking Colleges with the Highest Share of After-Midnight Studying

Study or sleep? Find out where the night owls roost: Course Hero reveals the campuses where students are most likely to hit the books after midnight.

Pulling an all-nighter is a rite of passage for many college students, but it might be a ritual worth rethinking. New research from the National Sleep Foundation shows that too little sleep makes us much less effective at our tasks. Not only that, the study revealed we’re aware of this fact, yet only 1 in 10 of us make sleep a top priority.

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This piqued our interest at Course Hero, so we decided to analyze our user data to smoke out which students are most likely to study into the wee hours—and presumably not get as much sleep as they should. We looked at school-specific traffic data on the Course Hero platform between midnight and 5 a.m. and then compared it to overall traffic for each school. Here’s what we found:

  • Harvard University tops the night owl list by a long shot. Students at Harvard log 19% of their total study hours between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • The rate jumps up from midnight to 1 a.m. Harvard is one of just a handful of schools whose rates rise after midnight. (Also in that category: University of Notre Dame and New York University.)
  • The top 5 burn-the-midnight-oil schools, according to our data, were Harvard, Notre Dame, New York University, St. John’s University, and University of Maryland. Each logged more than 12% of total study hours between midnight and 5 a.m.
  • Most students finish up their studies by 3 a.m. Just 0.5% are cracking the books between 3 and 5 a.m. Even among all of our top 20 late-hours schools, just 2.5% of students are studying during that window of time.

Night Owl U

Another notable finding: Students in the University of California system are much more likely to study in the early morning hours compared to all others. Among our top 20, 4 schools are UC schools: Berkeley, Los Angeles, Irvine, and Davis. And to make matters even more interesting, students at those schools keep study hours that mirror one another (note they number 13–16 in our rankings).

Sleepless in … Massachusetts

We also rolled up all the data by state, looking at students across each state to identify patterns. We found that college students in Massachusetts are much more likely to stay awake studying from midnight to 5 a.m. than students from other states. The states least likely to stay awake during the early hours: Missouri (2%), Utah (2%), Washington (2%), North Carolina (1%).

Full ranking

Below are the top 20 schools in our Night Owl U ranking. If you would like to receive more data-inspired content like this, follow us on Facebook or Twitter!

Rank College Portion of Study Midnight to 5 a.m.
1 Harvard University 18.9%
2 University of Notre Dame 14.8%
3 New York University 14.0%
4 St. John’s University 12.8%
5 University of Maryland 12.1%
6 University of Texas 11.3%
7 Georgia Institute of Technology 11.1%
8 SUNY Stony Brook 11.0%
9 University of Michigan 11.0%
10 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 10.5%
11 University of Texas, Dallas 10.4%
12 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 10.3%
13 University of California, Berkeley 10.2%
14 University of California, Los Angeles 10.1%
15 University of California, Irvine 10.0%
16 University of California, Davis 10.0%
17 Northeastern University 9.8%
18 Michigan State University 9.8%
19 Rutgers University 9.8%
20 Baruch College, CUNY 9.7%



We analyzed traffic among students using Course Hero during the months that schools were in session during 2018. We limited our study to a random sample of public and private colleges and universities, including community colleges—though the schools we selected had to have a strong presence on Course Hero. We did not include any data from online universities or any university with a presence in multiple time zones.

For more information, contact:

Grayling PR for Course Hero

[email protected]

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