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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.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.