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When Bryn Mawr College opened its doors in 1885, it offered women a more ambitious academic program than any previously available to them in the United States. Other women's colleges existed, but Bryn Mawr was the first to offer graduate education through the Ph.D.—a signal of its founders' refusal to accept the limitations imposed on women's intellectual achievement at other institutions.
Founded as Augusta Female Seminary in 1842 by Rufus W. Bailey, Mary Baldwin University is the oldest institution of higher education for women in the nation affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. Among its first students, totaling 57 young women (paying as much as $60 per semester to attend), was Mary Julia Baldwin.
In 1852, two years after California was admitted to statehood, the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Benicia, California was established by nine citizens in what became the state capital. Cyrus and Susan Mills bought the Seminary in 1865 for $5,000, renamed it Mills College, and moved it in 1871 to its current 135-acre oasis. We invite you to take a virtual tour of our campus.
Mount Saint Mary’s University was established in 1925 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. Since their founding in Le Puy, France, in 1650, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJs) have been faithful to their original mission of "helping women become all they are capable of being" and of "serving all persons without distinction."
Established by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, Notre Dame of Maryland University has anticipated and met contemporary needs with visionary and pragmatic educational programs since 1895. It was the first Catholic college for women to award the 4-year baccalaureate degree.
Saint Mary’s promotes a life of intellectual vigor, aesthetic appreciation, religious sensibility, and social responsibility. Founded in 1844 by the Sisters of the Holy Cross, Saint Mary’s College’s is a four-year, Catholic, residential, women’s liberal arts college offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Online and hybrid graduate programs are offered in several in-demand fields.
Simmons College was founded in 1899 by Boston businessman John Simmons, who had a revolutionary idea — that women should be able to earn independent livelihoods and lead meaningful lives. It was this same spirit of inclusion and empowerment that produced the first African-American Simmons graduate in 1914, and made Simmons one of the only private colleges that did not impose admission quotas on Jewish students during the first half of the 1900s.
St. Catherine University is the largest Catholic women's college in the United States with an enrollment of nearly 5,000. St. Kate’s, as it’s commonly known, was founded in 1905. Grounded in the liberal arts and the Catholic traditions of intellectual inquiry and social teaching, St. Kate’s educates women to lead and influence. In 1937, it became the nation’s first Catholic college to be awarded a chapter of the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa honor society. St. Kate’s offers associate, bachelor and advanced degree programs in four schools: the School of Business and Professional Studies; the School of Humanities, Arts and Sciences; the Henrietta Schmoll School of Health; and the School of Social Work. St. Kate's offers nearly 60 fields of study, as well as another 35-plus through the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities consortium. At every degree level, St. Kate’s serves a diverse student population; developing ethical, reflective and socially responsible leaders. St. Kate’s president is 1976 alumna ReBecca Koenig Roloff.
An act of the 27th Texas Legislature in 1901 founded the Girls Industrial College as a public institution that would become Texas Woman's University in 1957. The school had then and has now a dual mission: to provide a liberal education and to prepare young women "for the practical industries of the age" with a specialized education. TWU continues today as a public university that offers a comprehensive catalog of academic studies, including baccalaureate, master's and doctoral degrees. The university has grown from a small college to a major university. TWU is the largest university primarily for women in the United States, with the main campus in Denton and health science centers in Dallas and Houston.
In 1932, the Sisters of Mercy of Connecticut set out on a remarkable journey. Their mission: to establish the first liberal arts college for women in the Hartford area; one founded on the principles of service and leadership; one determined to develop the potential of women in a complex and evolving world. -