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Founded in 1887 by the School Sisters of St. Francis, Alverno College promotes the academic, personal and professional development of its students in a collaborative and inclusive environment. For more than 130 years, we’ve been changing lives with our powerful combination of liberal arts education and career readiness.
Bay Path University was founded in 1897 in Springfield, Massachusetts, as a coeducational business school offering programs in accounting, business administration, secretarial science, and business teacher training. In 1945, Bay Path moved to Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and it restricted its enrollment to young women. Four years later, it received approval to be chartered as Bay Path Junior College. In 1988, the Massachusetts Board of Regents of Higher Education authorized Bay Path Junior College to become a four-year degree-granting institution, and its name was officially changed to Bay Path College. Maintaining its commitment to women-only undergraduate programs, in 2014 Bay Path launched The American Women's College, the first all-women, all-online accredited bachelor’s degree program in the country. After introducing coeducational graduate programs in 2000, in 2014 the College became Bay Path University. Today, the university offers over 70 undergraduate programs for women and over 30 graduate programs for women and men, including doctorate degrees.
Founded as a private institution for the education of women, Brenau University began in 1878 as the Georgia Baptist Female Seminary. Two years later, H.J. Pearce purchased the institution and renamed it Brenau, a linguistic blend of the German word "brennen," which means to burn, and the Latin word "aurum" for gold, corresponding to the institution's motto "as gold refined by fire." Today, Brenau is an innovative, comprehensive university with coeducation programs through the doctoral level that retains its historic Women's College.
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 in 1913, the College of Saint Benedict embraces the rich heritage of bold leadership and pioneering spirit of its Benedictine founders, the Sisters of Saint Benedict's Monastery. The college’s dedication to the power of the liberal arts is a cornerstone of the Benedictine wisdom tradition. In addition, the college expresses its Benedictine character through the practice of enduring Benedictine values, including community, hospitality and service.
Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy and an early 18th century Irishwoman, believed that nothing was more productive of good to society than the careful education of women. Her strength of conviction gave birth to what would become a long line of women's secondary and post-secondary schools around the globe. Mother Mary Leo Gallagher, another Sister of Mercy, carried on the tradition and opened the doors of College of Saint Mary in 1923. In the old Continental Hotel at 15th and Castelar Streets, the work began. In November 1950, the Sisters purchased 80 acres of land next to a dirt road named 72nd Street and what would then become Mercy Road. A $3 million construction project began in March 1953 and by May 1955, College of Saint Mary was a reality. By 1958, College of Saint Mary had become a four-year fully-accredited college. Today, the College continues its affiliation with the Sisters of Mercy and is proud of its tradition of women leading the way.
Although the doors of Converse opened October 1, 1890, the first step towards the founding of the college was taken in 1889 when a prominent attorney assembled a group of Spartanburg citizens to discuss the project. Among the 13 men was Dexter Edgar Converse, a native of Vermont who had settled in Spartanburg before the Civil War. His contributions to the college were so valuable it was given his name.
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.
Meredith College has been educating strong, confident women for more than a century. Chartered in 1891, the College opened with 200 students and a mission to provide a first-rate course of female education. Today Meredith is one of the largest independent women’s colleges in the U.S., graduating nearly 500 students each year who come from across the country and around the world.
The first women’s college west of the Rockies, Mills College has been leading change and defying convention since its founding in 1852—a legacy that continues today throughout our undergraduate and graduate programs. Over the decades, Mills “firsts” have been numerous: the first laboratory school west of the Mississippi for aspiring teachers (1926); the first women’s college to offer a computer science major (1974); the first and only women’s college to reverse a decision to go coed (1990); the first business school in the West dedicated to advancing women (2005); and, in 2014, the first women’s college in the US to introduce a formal transgender admission policy.
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.
Believing that women deserved an education comparable to that given men -- a radical view for that era -- the Moravians began a school for girls in 1772. In 1802, it became a boarding school for girls and young women; in 1866, it was renamed Salem Female Academy. Salem began granting college degrees in the 1890s.
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.
Smith College is a distinguished liberal arts college committed to providing the highest quality undergraduate education for women to enable them to develop their intellects and talents and to participate effectively and fully in society.
The college was founded in 1871 by Sophia Smith, who decided to leave that leaving her inheritance to found a women’s college was the best way for her to fulfill a moral obligation. Smith has changed much since its founding. But throughout its history there have been certain enduring constants: an uncompromising defense of academic and intellectual freedom, an attention to the relation between college education and the larger public issues of world order and human dignity, and a concern for the rights and privileges of women.
Today the college continues to benefit from a dynamic relationship between innovation and tradition. And while Smith’s basic curriculum of the humanities, arts and sciences still flourishes, the college continues to respond to the new intellectual needs of today’s women—offering majors or interdepartmental programs in engineering, the study of women and gender, neuroscience, film and media studies, Middle East studies, statistical and data sciences and other emerging fields.
St. Catherine University, or 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. 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. With more than 60 programs of study, the College for Women is among the largest private women’s colleges in the nation. The University also offers a range of programs for women and men in the Graduate College and College for Adults. At every degree level, St. Kate’s serves a diverse student population; developing ethical, reflective and socially responsible leaders. St. Kate’s president is ReBecca Koenig Roloff, a 1976 graduate of the University.
Sweet Briar was established in 1901 in the will of Indiana Fletcher Williams. Williams founded the school in memory of her daughter, Daisy, who had died at age 16. The College opened in 1906 with 51 students. The A.B. degree was immediately recognized by graduate programs at leading universities — and three of the College’s first five graduates went on to pursue advanced degrees.
Over a century ago, Trinity College was founded by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur as the nation’s first Catholic liberal arts college for women. Beginning with the first graduating class of 1904, the mission of Trinity has been realized in the lives of her graduates.
Chartered in 1836, Wesleyan became the first college in the world chartered to grant degrees to women. Since then, we’ve sent scores of women out into the world to do the impossible, the amazing, and the extraordinary, like the first woman to receive a Doctor of Medicine degree in Georgia and the first woman to argue a case before the Georgia Supreme Court.