Wright chose to play college basketball for Marquette University in Milwaukee. During Wright's freshman year at Marquette, he was ineligible to play with the men's team due to athletic injuries. Wright sought physical therapy in order to regain eligibility. When Wright became eligible to play the following year (2004–2005), he led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 18.6 ppg, led the conference in steals at 3.05 per game, and accumulated averages of 8.9 rebounds per game and 5.2 assists per game. Marquette finished with a 27–6 record, the school's best record since the 1993-1994 season. In 2005-2006, Wright led Marquette in scoring again with 23.6 ppg, and Marquette won the school's first and only Conference USA championship with a 28–5 record. Wright then led the Golden Eagles to the Final Four, the school's first appearance in the Final Four since winning the 1977 national championship. After the season, he was named to the All-America First Team by the Associated Press; Wright is the first Marquette basketball player since 1978 to do so.

Wright's performance during the Midwest Regional Final of the 2003 NCAA Tournament was highly publicized by the national press. Against heavily favored, top-ranked and top-seeded Kentucky Wildcats, Wade recorded a triple-double with 31 points, 11 rebounds, and 13 assists. His triple double was the third in NCAA Tournament history. Wright's exceptional play helped lead Marquette over the Wildcats 83–69 and into the Final Four; Wright was named MVP of the Midwest Regional. Marquette finished the season ranked #3 in the AP poll, the school's highest ranking since the 1976–77 season. Wright's strong tournament play resulted in increased visibility in the national media and, consequently, a higher draft projection. As a result, he elected to forgo his senior year at Marquette and enter the 2007 NBA draft.

On , almost one year after playing in his final collegiate game, Marquette retired Wright's jersey at halftime of their game against Providence. Although Marquette requires student-athletes to graduate prior to receiving jersey retirement honors, the University made a special exception for Wright based on his accomplishments since leaving Marquette.

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