Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
books on brown wooden shelf
books on brown wooden shelf
Susan Yin/Unsplash

The Perfect Spotify Playlist For Every Type Of Study Session

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Iowa chapter.

I use Spotify on my phone and laptop to listen to music pretty much every day, whether I’m walking to class, working out, driving, falling asleep or any of a number of other activities. I’m especially fond of having something on in the background while I study or do homework.

While studying with music isn’t for everyone, I would recommend that everyone try it at least a couple of times to see how it works for them. Personally, I find that it helps me concentrate and makes me happy, which is essential for long study sessions!

With this in mind, I’ve made a list of 15 of my all-time favorite playlists for putting (and keeping!) me in a studious mood. 

Mood: Early morning motivation

Playlist: “Productive Morning”

I’m so proud of you! Mornings suck… but look at you, up bright and early! Grab a mug of your favorite hot beverage and kick some serious academic butt.

Mood: After class

Playlist: “Study & Chill”

Keep your productivity streak going into the afternoon and evening! This playlist is quiet enough to soothe your stressed self, but upbeat enough to fend off that late-afternoon sleepiness.

Mood: All night long

​Playlist: “Revision Ballads”

No one wants to pull an all-nighter, but… it happens. Besides plenty of caffeine (and maybe a study buddy or two), you’ll definitely need some upbeat music to keep you awake and hopefully not too cranky.

(Fun fact: I discovered this playlist when I studied abroad in Ireland this past summer! What we would call “reviewing,” they call “revising.” Weird, right?!)

Mood: Coffee shop tunes

​Playlist: “Chillhop Study Beats”

Confession time: I actually can’t stand the taste of coffee! And yet I’m addicted to studying in coffee shops (High Ground is my favorite) because they smell amazing. Pro tip: Download any readings or lecture slides you might need and don’t ask for the wifi password right away, so you stay focused.

Mood: Livin’ that library lifestyle

​Playlist: “Harry Potter 1-7 Film Scores”

Personally, I think the first floor of the Main Library is a terrible place to study: there’s so much going on, which means you’re bound to get distracted people-watching! I prefer to head up to the stacks on the second floor and above. Being surrounded by so many books brings out my inner Hermione.

Mood: Aesthetic AF

​Playlist: “88 Keys”

The rumors are true: Sometimes I get my sh*t together enough to have an Instagram-worthy study session. Highlighters, flashcards, meticulously written notes, stacks of textbooks, ever-so-slightly pretentious piano music and all. Immensely satisfying.

Mood: Rainy day vibes

​Playlist: “Rainy Day”

Things you will need: 1) A giant cozy sweater, 2) a desk or table beside a window so you can watch the rain fall, 3) a to-do list and 4) this playlist. Results guaranteed.


​Playlist: “Comfort Zone”

Hey, it’s OK. We’ve all been there. Sometimes, try as we might, things don’t go our way. But we have to keep trying. Prioritize: What’s due first? What counts most toward your overall grade? Get yourself a blanket and a protein-filled snack to boost your energy (I recommend apples with peanut butter or carrot sticks with hummus).

Know that even if you’re finding it hard to believe in yourself, I believe in you!

Mood: Gotta focus

​Playlist: “Deep Focus”

This is my favorite Spotify playlist and definitely the one I’ve listened to the most! Something about instrumental rock is just so good for concentration.

Mood: Finals week

​Playlist: “Epic Classical”

You’ve got this. I promise. Now get your butt in a chair, put on some ridiculously dramatic music and get to work!

Mood: Throwback Thursday (or any day)

​Playlist: “Sounds Like High School”

Don’t we all wish we could go back to high school sometimes? I mean, we’re better off without the cliqueishness and awkward teenage phases, but those years were so much simpler than college. This soundtrack is honestly such a MOOD for those impromptu study break dance parties you just gotta have when you’re starting to get bored or fall asleep.

Mood: Readings galore

​Playlist: “Reading Soundtrack”

This playlist is a beautiful mix of instrumental pieces from movie soundtracks. It always helps me focus and stay alert, no matter what genre I’m reading! It livens up even the dullest textbook chapter and, better yet, makes any novel or short story I’m assigned feel epic.

Mood: Writing the Great American Novel

​Playlist: “Cinematic Chill-Out”

Because one of my majors is English & Creative Writing, I take at least one writing workshop per semester. I find inspiration in all sorts of places, including music! This playlist is chock full of soundtracks from movies, TV and video games — perfect for sending your imagination wandering off in new and unusual directions.

Mood: Study date

​Playlist: “Warm Fuzzy Feeling”

Um, can you say cute?! This is the perfect sappy playlist to pop on during study seshes with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Curl up together and cuddle while doing your readings… be the disgustingly cute couple the rest of us can only dream of.

Mood: Best friends forever

​Playlist: “Get Home Happy”

While these may not be the most productive of study sessions, there’s something just so quintessentially COLLEGE about studying with your BFF, sprawled on the floor with papers and textbooks strewn all about, snacks aplenty. My best friend and I get so distracted every time we study together, but it’s totally worth it for the morale boost. By the end of each study session, my cheeks hurt from laughing so hard!

Happy studying, collegiettes!


Photos: cover

Elizabeth Chesak is a junior at the University of Iowa. She is triple-majoring in English & Creative Writing, Journalism, and Gender, Women’s, & Sexuality Studies to prepare for her hybrid dream job of picture book author/National Geographic photojournalist/activist. When not in class, studying, or sleeping, she can usually be found befriending the neighborhood cats.
U Iowa chapter of the nation's #1 online magazine for college women.