Now remember students, this spell is only to be used on feathers, and not your fellow classmates.
Unseen University was much bigger on the inside. Thousands of years as the leading establishment of practical magic in a world where dimensions were largely a matter of chance in any case had left it bulging with places where it shouldn't have places.
In ye olden days, people learned skills by being apprenticed to someone, so it was natural to assume that magicians would learn the ropes in the same manner. Then, the modern age saw the rise of public schooling and universities almost completely displace apprenticeship as the means of education. In light of this, some authors decided that the school setting was a viable way to educate their magicians.
Thus was born the Wizarding School, the institute for education in magic. There the young sorcerers go to learn various forms of rule-basedFunctional Magic (after all, there's not much one can learn if the magic is random and uncontrollable), divided into different "subjects" or even schools of magic. An exceptional talent may be a prerequisite for entrance, in which case the school is a center for Training The Gift Of Magic. Expect plenty of Magi Babble on the tests.
These come in two varieties; actual schools, and universities.
Schools are often boarding schools, with the attendant tropes. The pupils there are children, who leave at sixteen or eighteen. If the pupils are lucky, they'll also get a good Muggle education in math and science when they aren't learning magic words.
Universities usually only take students who are nominally adults, though exceptions may be made for rare genius. The usual university tropes apply. The students will spend half their time drinking in the local bars; the professors will be busy with vigorous academic politics, and magical research.
Often the institution where the story is set won't be the only such in the world, though the others don't do very much.
A subtrope of Extranormal Institute. Compare with Superhero School and Ninja School. Sometimes comes combined with a Magical Society.
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
Mahora Academy from Mahou Sensei Negima! — and specifically Negi's class — pretty much has the Fantasy Kitchen Sink. Robots, mages, vampires, demons, ninja, ghosts, etc. They're still expected to keep up the Masquerade, though- the trope is played with a bit in that it doubles as a regular school, and has several Muggles. (They do it well enough that, at least at the start of the series, the Muggles in the class have only twigged onto the Robot Girl — because she is obviously robotic — and even then some of them think it might be makeup or a gag.) That's just the class, of course — the school itself has a World Tree, a library closer to an RPG dungeon than a school resource, a staff composed exclusively of mages, etc. And the muggles don't notice.
True Cross Academy from Blue Exorcist is a bit of subversion. The school itself is pretty ordinary (aside from being ABSOLUTELY ENORMOUS) but just happens to have a secret class that teaches you how to fight demons.
The Witch Girls universe features multiple schools for witches; there's some overlap with All-Ghouls School due to the application of Witch Species and various other creatures that may end up as staff, as well as the Witch/Otherkin hybrids that may end up as students.
In With Strings Attached, occasional reference is made to the Wizards' University in the city of Zagesevregar; Grunnel lectured there in the past, and Brox was there searching for a solution to the no-monster problem of Baravada. The Raleka wizards also worked at or attended the place. However, the university is never seen.
In Absit Omen, Hogwarts is the main focus, but due to the Tetrawizard Tournament, students from Beauxbatons, Durmstrang and Salem are currently present. Some adult characters graduated from other wizarding schools from around the world, such as Beit Gaddol in Jerusalem and Mahoutokoro in Japan.
Bedknobs and Broomsticks has a variant: the protagonist, Ms. Price, gets lessons in the mail from the "Correspondence College of Witchcraft." Also different is the fact that the college is supposed to be a scam, as its founder is a con artist who just copies things from an old book he found.
Listed more or less by publication date.
Scholomance, traditionally based in Transylvania and run by the devil, was meant to be a school for users of Black Magic. It shows up in the writings of British authors (and Bram Stoker, who was Irish), usually following Scottish writer Emily Gerard's depiction of Transylvanian superstitions.
The 1953 short story "The Wall Around The World" by Theodore Cogswell is commonly accepted by the fantasy fiction community to be the progenitor of this trope in modern literature. It centers around a 13 year old wizard studying at a school for wizards who tries to discover what lies beyond the wall which surrounds the known world. Many obvious parallels can be drawn between it and later, better known examples of the sub-genre such as the Earthsea and Harry Potter novels.
The Robert Sheckley 1954 short story "The Accountant" is another early example. You don't actually see the school, but you do meet little Morton's teacher and learn of his lack of enthusiasm for Thaumaturgy, Conjuring Herbs and the Geography of Greater Hell. All because he wants to be an accountant...
Eleanor Estes' The Witch Family was published in 1960. Hannah's school, her classmates and teacher, and subject matter (including witchiplication) are covered in some detail.
Likewise the magic school on Roke in Ursula K. Le Guin's A Wizard Of Earthsea, published in 1968, pre-dates many other examples here. The native Muggles wouldn't bat an eye at seeing a youngster turn into a bird and fly away.
Krabat, published 1971, combines apprenticeship as a miller with secret schooling in Black Magic.
The wizards and soothsayers of Avram Davidson's fantasy works generally receive their magical education in less organized settings, but Virgil (the medieval wizard version first published in 1969, not the historical poet) is depicted attending a school with a truly horrifying finals week. For herbalism, students are given a tray full of fungi and told to remove the poisonous and healing varieties. And then they have to eat the remainder. The final exam is a simple footrace...but the devil takes the hindmost.
Caithnard in The Riddle Master Trilogy by Patricia A. McKillip was originally a wizarding school until the wizards all mysteriously disappeared. Now it is a school for those who study the mysterious and dangerous riddles left behind by the wizards.
Before that, Lungold. Unfortunately, its founder, Ghisteslwchlohm, turned out to be an Evil Sorcerer- he used the school to gather all the wizards together, steal important prophetic knowledge from them, and then destroyed it and them so they couldn't interfere with his plans.
In The Discworld books Unseen University, and Bugarup University in the Last Continent, comfortably predates Hogwarts by around fourteen years and are very much a parody of a certain perception of Oxford, Cambridge and similar institutions. It DOES have students, notably the original versions of Rincewind and the Ponder Stibbons group, but the Faculty almost never teach or tutor them and their main career path seems to be to join the Faculty. Early Installment Weirdness throws up figures like Igneous Cutwell, but they aren't usual.
And now Brazeneck College/University in Pseudopolis, which with the former Dean of UU as the head lends a competitive air to the relationship between it and UU.
In Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar series, the magician Pug sets up an academy on the island of Stardock to streamline the teaching of magic as well as teaching a new form of magic that he learned on Kelewan.
The Wizards on Ansalon in the Dragonlance series of novels, first one published in 1984, have set up minor schools throughout the continent for people who want to try and learn High Sorcery. During the early Fifth Age Palin Majere set up the Academy of Sorcery to teach Primal Sorcery.
In Pamela Dean's The Secret Country trilogy, first published in 1985, different branches/philosophies of magic are identified as Red, Green or Blue. Each has its School, with Ruth belonging to the Green School. We get tantalizing glimpses of the Green Caves in The Whim of the Dragon. Their magic is devoted to earth, water and plants.
The White Tower in The Wheel of Time, published in 1990. Girls who can channel are brought to the Tower to learn to control it before they kill themselves or others. Similarly, the Black Tower, though that's more of a Wizarding boot camp.
Wizard's Hall, published in 1991 by Jane Yolen is somewhat similar to Harry Potter, to the point that Yolen is rather suspicious of the Potter books' originality. The main character's name is Henry and he has a red-haired friend. However, the systems of magic aren't remotely similar and there are different naming conventions.
The Heralds of Valdemar series has several schools of magic, the most mentioned one being White Winds, which has several branches due to the fact that graduating mages who reach Master or Adept level are supposed to start schools of their own. Tarma and Kethry set up a combination mage/fighting school toward the end of the Vows and Honor trilogy. In the Owls triolgy, it's mentioned that a Mage Collegium was set up so those mages that weren't also Heralds in Valdemar could be trained and and ensure that they would use magic ethically.
Greenlaw College (for women) and Glasscastle University (for men) in the Scholarly Magics books by Caroline Stevermer, the first of which was published in 1994. Greenlaw has the limbs and outer flourishes of a French finishing school for young ladies, while Glasscastle is a traditional English university.
The Palace of the Prophets from Sword of Truth, which was first published in 1994. Bonus points for being built as a spell-form, preventing the Sorceresses, Wizards, and especially the Prophets from aging, allowing them to accrue truly terrifying amounts of knowledge.
Similarly, the Wizards' Keep used to be this, but slowly ran out of Wizards.
Wyverley College in the Old Kingdom series, first published in 1995, is mostly just a classic girl's boarding school that happens to offer a few magic classes on the side, not a dedicated school for magic.
Winding Circle in Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic quartet, published in 1997, the same year as Harry Potter. Also Lightsbridge University, which we haven't actually seen in any of the books (several of the characters are alumni), and which sounds like it follows the trope much more closely than the temple city of Winding Circle.
There are also various examples in the Tortall Universe. It seems to be generally agreed that the best one in the world is the university in Carthak that Numair went to.
The Harry Potter series, with its Hogwarts, is the Trope Codifier, and undoubtedly the most famous example. It has this as its Characteristic Trope (particularly in the first book), though the main plot eventually centers upon defeating Voldemort. Other Wizarding Schools from other countries are mentioned by name in the series, such as Durmstrang in Bulgaria and Beauxbatons in France. Due to Pop-Cultural Osmosis, many later examples of this trope either reference it or seem to.
The Bard Schools in the Books of Pellinor. Though these are actually cities built around Schools.
There's a College of Magic in Salamander, published in 2001, where most of the story takes place. It's portrayed as a research center as much as a school, though.
Tales of Kolmar's The Lesser Kindred, published in 2001, has the healer/mage school at Verfaren. In that 'verse only powerful healers can turn their magic to non-healing things and be mages. Some turn to demons to become more powerful.
In The Bartimaeus Trilogy, first published in 2003, this trope is averted, although it's mentioned and dismissed by the titular demon: magicians are often power-hungry and corrupt (like many Real Life politicians) and keep their knowledge to themselves as much as they can, so schools are out of the question; instead, the next generation of magicians are taken from parents who don't want them (since magicians are forbidden from having children) and taught singly by each magician.
The University in Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind, published in 2007, fits into this trope. It is the only school where you can learn the world's particular brand of sympathetic magic and is a boarding school set in a town that is based entirely around The University.
Subverted with Naming, where the University is too domesticated and safe for most Namers to find all the names they might at the ends of civilization. "Chasing the Wind" has morphed into a term of derision speaking of futility, but it originally referred to someone going off on adventures to seek the ever-changing Name of the Wind.
The Adem mention that they have them.
Hell's Gate by David Weber has the Union of Arcana, a federation of magic using nations that have several. The two mentioned by name are Mythal Falls Academy, the oldest and most prestigious magical research and teaching Academy in Arcana and the Garth Showma Institute, the second largest magical academy anywhere (and whose prestige is rapidly overtaking that of the Mythal Falls Academy).
The Magicians by Lev Grossman and published in 2009, has Brakebills, a wizarding university in upstate New York; it has an insanely difficult entrance exam and time there is out of sync with time in the rest of the world.
Brakebills also has a second campus in Antarctica, where students in their fourth year are sent for intensive magical education under Professor Mayakovsky.
Edgewood Academy, Brightwood University, and Blackthorne College are the token schools of magic in The Princess 99. Though, Blackthorne is closer to a madhouse if anything. To be honest the entire book reads like Tim Burton Presents: Harry Potter.
Parodied by Ros Asquith's Trixie Tempest And The Witches Academy. The protagonist, having grown up on Harry Potter, expects to be sent to a Hogwarts-esque school, but when she gets to the actual place, Conundrums Academy is a rundown building with rule books like dictionaries and the common punishment for misbehaving students is the stocks, or being drenched in frostbite-inducing water.
A non-boarding school example in Night Watch. Also different in that, since Others can be discovered and initiated at any age, the school is unlikely to have only children. There is only one teacher in the Moscow Night Watch. It's mentioned that, when the latest Moscow Night Watch HQ was built, they planned for 3 floors' worth of classrooms. However, since only a few new Others who are initiated and agree to join the Watch each year, they almost never use more than 1 floor. The Moscow Day Watch is also mentioned to have its own school, but it has never been described, although it's mentioned that, since there are proportionally about 16 Dark Other to 1 Light Other, the Day Watch school is usually packed. The spin-off novel School Supervision takes place at a special boarding school set up by the Inquisition to teach a group of Other (both Light and Dark) teens who are troubled for one reason or another. All teachers are either members of the Inquisition or are sworn to be unbiased to one side or the other. The authors frequently refer to Harry Potter, pointing out differences, such as students playing normal sports games and using laptops in class (justified, since they're trained to live amongst humans).
Rachel Griffin has Roanoke Academy, (A school of magic like no other); founded, as the name suggests, by Virginia Dare, the first American-born sorceress. Students enter at age fourteen, unless given a special dispensation to enter a year early, and stay four years; and are sorted according to their specialties into one of seven houses named after various famous sorcerers (Dee, Drake, Dare, etc.) Roanoke is not the only magical school in the world, but it is the only one to offer instruction in all seven branches of magic.
In The Broken Crescent the College of Man is the exclusive source for magical training; if they think you can learn the Language of the Gods, they'll take you, and then you learn what they say.
Daybreak On Hyperion has the Königsfeld Academy of Magic, the most prestigious in the Kingdom of Weichsel, overlapping with Military Academy due to the Kingdom's strong military traditions for its nobility (all of whom can use magic).
Live Action TV
The last few seasons of Charmed featured a magic school, which was inspired by Harry Potter. Earlier seasons never even hint at its existence and the young witches shown all had to learn how to use their powers without it.
The IOU supplement had Illuminati University, which covers more than just magic. Classes include hysteria and future history, the botany building is a tree, and destruction of any planetary bodies requires written permission from the Arch-Dean (who, according to rumor within the setting, is either a former angel, a former demon, or both - the art, done by Phil Foglio of Girl Genius fame, depicts her with both a halo and devil horns).
The Technomancer world is a Magitek setting where magic returned to the world with the first atomic explosion in 1945. Most schools in advanced magical countries have magical courses for basic spells, and doctorates in Thaumaturgy are available from most colleges and universities.
In addition, a medieval school for wizards has been added as a setting in the Fourth Edition supplement GURPS Locations: Worminghall.
MIT becomes MIT&T ("Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Thaumaturgy") post-Awakening, and is a top research school in both fields.
Most major universities have a department of magical studies. Notable is Charles University, where the Great Dragon Schwartzkopf is a lecturer. Schwartzkopf apparently gives extra credit for any really creative pranks his students pull. One has to feel sorry for every other student and staff member at Charles come the end of the semester.
The Known World setting (aka Mystara) has a few of those, notably the Great School of Magic set in the wizard-ruled nation of Glantri.
Eberron of course has plenty of those. Notable is the Library of Korranberg, as well as the Flying Towers of Aundair, who have a very Hogwarts-like feel, including monsters and constructs roaming the halls, as well as dungeons filled with magical hazards and Malevolent Architecture. Korranberg is downplayed in that it is a general-purpose university in a setting where magic is ubiquitous and important to society — magic may come up in most courses, but that's because (for instance) the architect has to take into account the possibility of incorporating magic into the construction, not because most of the students are mages of some kind.
Thay is an Evil Empire with several academies to train their Red Wizards.
More than one sourcebook noted that the founding of academies for wizards is fairly common throughout Faerûn — it's just that, for one reason or the other, most of those academies don't last all that long.
2nd Edition supplement College of Wizardry. The castle of Mathghamgna holds the title school. in addition to teaching aspiring wizards, it searches for the Language Primeval, which is the language of magic.
The Dragon magazine #123 article "The Mystic College" had rules for creating and running a college of magic.
The Horde boxed set. The city of Dhaztenar in Semphar has a college of wizards supported by the treasury of the Caliph.
The Dragonlance setting had the Towers of High Sorcery. One of their functions was the training and testing of new magic users.
There are a few in Magic: The Gathering, including the Conclave of Mages and the School of the Unseen from the Ice Age cycle, but the most important (and the one with the most game-breaking card) is the Tolarian Academy.
The Heptagram in Exalted, of course. Think of it as Hogwarts meets Gossip Girl with more than a few elements of the aforementioned Scholomance. There used to be a second school on the same island, but... something happened... and now the old site is sowed with salt and covered with mystical sigils.
Exalted actually has a lot of these. Lookshy has an academy for those wanting to study Magitek, the Sidereals have Department 137 of the Forbidding Manse of Ivy, and the Underworld has the Raiton Academy for the tutelage of necromancy.
Jesus, this book. It's actually a terrifying speculative commentary about the dangers of power, and the inherent barbarism of children. The moral of this game is that those with power are free to do as they please, and sadistic murder is acceptable vengeance for any slight, no matter how petty or minor.
The Eight Colleges of Magic in the Warhammer Fantasy Universe train the magically gifted to be of use to the Empire. Of course, many potential students are killed by superstitious peasants before they get there, and using magic when you aren't a member of one of the colleges is punishable by being burnt alive at the stake. Not to mention, because of all this, if you do have magical aptitude you have the choice of either join, dying or being a fugitive.
The Imperial Colleges might be the greatest centres of magical learning in the Old World, but they were founded comparatively recently (about 200 years before the present time) by the young High Elf Archmage Teclis, and only teach about magic split into its eight constituent colours - because that's all humans are capable of grasping without going utterly mad. The far more magically-adept High Elves have the White Tower of Hoeth in the kingdom of Saphery, where the full secrets of High Magic (which combines all eight colours into one harmonious whole) are studied and taught by its Loremasters. Teclis, who studied at the Tower, became High Loremaster of the institution after founding the Imperial colleges. It also teaches absurdly skilled ascetic warrior-scholars the arts of sword mastery, and these swordmasters act as the Tower's emissaries, guardians and agents in the outside world.
The Dark Elves, by contrast have the Seven Convents of Sorceresses, based in Ghrond.
Journey to the Magic Isle. The title island holds the University of Magic Arts, where students can learn a wide variety of magical techniques.
Star Crown Empire and the Seas of Fate. The nation of Fydon Fey is the home of the Great Colleges of Sorcery. They're rather important because the country's class system is based on magical and intellectual ability.
Nomads of the Nine Nations. In all the Jan, Balaan and Shoneb Empire, the only place to study magic is the Academy of Dar-e'sen in Ghagian. The most powerful archmages, the Senjamade, live, study and teach there.
Bard Games' Arcanum RPG, The Lexicon (Atlas of the Lost World of Atlantis)
The Magical Institute of Dardanaus and the Acheron Institute of Astrology both taught magic to students.
In the kingdom of Ys are several small institutes that are open to elves interested in the magical arts. They encompass almost every magical field.
The Institute for Occult Studies can be found in the city of Tartessos in the nation of Tharshesh. Instruction is available in all magical fields of study except divine magic. It has a respectable reputation throughout the magical community.
Champions Organization Book The Circle and M.E.T.E.. The Circle is a group of superheroes who are being trained by The Master in magical techniques. The Master is a sorcerer of great power who is rumored to have walked away from ground zero of the Hiroshima bombing.
Games where a wizarding school is the primary setting:
In Wizard 101, the game starts out inside a university dedicated to teaching magic. The University is devided into six schools: Fire, Storm, Ice, Life, Death, and Myth. Players start out as newly admitted students, and while they do not actually attend any classes in the games, most of the spells a character learns comes from the professors of those six schools. (Headmaster Ambrose also hands out a few spells as rewards for specific in game achievements.)
Ravenwood also teaches a seventh school of magic, Balance, despite it not being given a classroom. Instead, it's classroom is hidden in Krokotopia. Students of this school learn their first few spells from another person that studied the basics of the school.
The worlds of Dragonspyre and Celestia also had academies before they were destroyed by the Dragon and Storm Titans respectively. Fortunately enough of Celestia survived for the player to learn a few spells from the Sun, Moon, and Star schools.
There is also the rival school of Pigswick, which features the Expys of Ravenwood's seven schools but with different names and almost backwards philosophies. Also only half the teachers there show any competence in there teaching. One even admits he has no idea what he's doing and is just using the previous professor's notes.
Academagia: The Making of Mages takes place in a complex non-Earth-based magical academy.
Magical Diary revolves around an American high school for witches and wizards. It's mostly a Dating Sim but you do learn and use spells as well.
Magical Starsign has two wizarding schools, which are central to the game's plot.
World of Warcraft has the Academy of Arcane Arts and Sciences, housed in the Mage Tower, the centerpiece of the Mage Quarter in the human city of Stormwind. It has little signifigance in the actual game however, except providing a few mage trainers and mage-specific quests.
The Scholomance (note the Shout-Out to the older version, see under Literature) instance is a Wizarding School catering entirely to necromancers.
Both Dalaran, a magocracy and Silvermoon (not a magocracy though heavily influenced by the Magisters) are mentioned to have these too in background materials.
New Shapers in Geneforge start at small academies to learn the basics. After that, they get apprenticed. Becoming a Shaper sucks.
Breath of Fire II has a Magic School located in Hometown (they were really thinking outside the box with those names), which is where Nina is studying. Later on, you can also find the sorceress Deis/Bleu there, who claims learning through books is boring, and would rather go back out in the world to learn the good old-fashioned way.
Final Fantasy VIII: Magic use is one of the things taught at the Gardens, although they are more of an analogue for military academies.
Princess Ceceilia of Wild ARMs's introduction begins with her taking leave from the local magical academy, and once the party is formed, you go back there to unlock the game's Summon Magic and kick off the plot.
The Nasu Verse's Mage Association is both this and a Magical Society. It's split into three competing 'Great Branches', further subdivided into various 'Departments' led by professors, and the like. It also has its own military force which can be brought to bear against either vampires, or The Church, if the prologue to Tsukihime 2 is anything to go by.
There are plenty of these in the world of Dragon Age, with the twist that they also function as prisons to keep mages carefully supervised and away from the general population. As such the academic politics are even more fierce than normal, with the ever present idea of 'fireballing the guards' proving an attractive idea for many.
Innsmouth Academy in The Secret World is an Illuminati-run university that teaches such things as applied necromancy, arcane geometry, parapsychology, and cryptozoology. Of course by the time you get there the place is overrun with insane familiars and pissed off spectral alumni.
The Tower of the Magi in Avernum is essentially a magical university combining the instruction of magic with high powered research.
The Dark Academy from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin is one of these, and it also appears in parts of the Forest of Doom level. Fittingly, these are the levels where the various witch enemies (including student witches) are most numerous.
One of the worlds visited in Ultima Underworld II contains the ruins of Scintillus Academy. Before its destruction, students trained in the academy for nine years and could then volunteer for a final exam, requiring them to navigate a dangerous labyrinth full of traps and illusions. The premature death of the aspiring mage was a not uncommon result.
Orthorbbae in the webcomic Drowtales is a prime example, having classes for every school of magic. Math and history are also mentioned as being areas of study, and comics on other parts of the site indicate that there are many other subjects taught at higher levels.
The boarding school in Gunnerkrigg Court is a subversion. Due to their strained relations with Gillitie Wood, they prefer to consider their studies (even magical ones) as scientific, even though plenty of magic occurs within the school grounds and the few gifted students regularly practice their abilities away from the teachers.
In Elcenia, The Binaaralav Academy of Wizardry is one of the few schools of any type in Elcenia. Most skills are taught by the family; magic-use is one of the few anyone bothers to make an academy for.
Ultimate Book of Spells concerns three kids who are best friends and go to a magic school and who fight against an evil Wizard. One of them is a redhaired boy who is the least magically apt, and one of their teachers can turn herself into a cat... sound familiar?
Alfea school for Fairies, Cloudtower school for witches, and Red Fountain for wizards (though none of the students from Red Fountain have shown any magic) in Winx Club.
The Simpsons briefly turned Springfield Elementary into one during a Halloween special short as part of yet another Harry Potter parody.