The Oldest Colleges In USA

December 17, 2022
By AdmissionSight

The Oldest Colleges in USA

Oldest Colleges in USA

What are the oldest colleges in USA? Three of the institutions below date back to the 17th century and all of these historic US universities trace back to before the American Revolution began in 1765, even if none of them can claim to be among the oldest universities in the world.

All of the universities below, five of which are in the prestigious Ivy League, have found a good balance between their strong historical roots and their commitment to growth and new ideas.

1. Harvard University, founded in 1636 (chartered in 1650),

Massachusetts-based Harvard University was formerly known as New College. Later, the institution’s name was changed to Harvard College in recognition of its first benefactor, John Harvard, who left the university his 320-volume scholar collection as well as half of his financial fortune in his will.

Harvard University front building

Harvard University is not only one of the oldest colleges in USA but also one of the most well-known universities in the world, coming in at number three in the most recent QS World University Rankings. According to the QS World University Rankings by Subject, it is first in the world for the general subject area of life sciences and medicine and second for arts and humanities.

2. The College of William and Mary was founded in 1693.

The College of William and Mary is the oldest university in the American South and the first institution of higher learning in the US to implement an honor code of conduct for students. It is named after the British co-monarchs who were in power at the time and granted the university its royal charter, the first for any university in the US.

3. St. John’s College

Founded in 1696, it is one of the oldest colleges in the USA. King William’s School, the first “free” school in the Maryland colony, was created as St. John’s College (SJC), a private liberal arts college (free in this context meaning free students through education).

St. John's College

With two campuses now—one in Maryland’s state capital of Annapolis and another in New Mexico’s state capital of Santa Fe—it received its current name in 1784. The college was listed among the top 100 liberal arts colleges in the US by U.S. News & World Report but did not appear in the QS World University Rankings.

4. Yale University, founded in 1701,

Next on our list of the oldest universities in the US is Yale University, which was founded as a “collegiate school” and is presently rated 17th globally. In honor of a gift from Elihu Yale, a governor of the British East India Company, it was christened Yale in 1718. Additionally, in that year, Yale relocated from its prior locations in Clinton, Saybrook, and Wethersfield to its current address in New Haven, Connecticut.

5. University of Pennsylvania

Founded in 1740 (chartered in 1755), Ben Franklin created the University of Pennsylvania, also known as Penn, which was the first university in the US to provide both undergraduate and graduate programs.

View of Upenn building at day time

In addition, Penn is not just one of the oldest colleges in USA, it was one of the first schools in the country to offer cross-faculty instruction, and in 1765, it opened the first medical school in the country.

Currently holding the fifth-best overall ranking in the world for business and management, Penn University is well known for its law and management programs. The university has a solid reputation for conducting extensive research.

6. Moravian College

Founded in 1742, it is one of the oldest colleges in USA. The next institution of higher learning in the United States is Moravian College. The college, which is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, dates back to 1742, when Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf, then 16 years old, founded it as Bethlehem Female Seminary, the country’s first residential school for girls. George Washington personally requested the admission of two of his great-nieces after learning of the school’s illustrious reputation.

7. Delaware University

Founded in 1743, the University of Delaware (UD), which is based in Newark, was first established as a “free school” and has undergone numerous name changes. The university was refused a charter in order to avoid competition with the University of Pennsylvania because Delaware remained a colony of Pennsylvania until 1776.

Delaware University main building

UD has a long history of excellent teaching and is currently ranked 491st overall in the QS World University Rankings. This is despite the fact that it is not considered a colonial college because it was not officially chartered as a higher education institution until 1833, after the American Revolution.

8. Princeton University

Founded in 1746, and first established as the College of New Jersey by New Light Presbyterians to educate ministers, it still has a variety of historical structures, including its oldest structure, Nassau Hall, which was constructed in 1756. In theory, Nassau Hall served as the interim capital of the US for four months in 1783 while the Continental Congress was in session.

Princeton University campus

Overall, Princeton is ranked thirteenth. In the arts and humanities, it is ranked seventh, and in math, it is ranked fourth.

9. Washington and Lee University

Founded in 1749, it is one of the oldest colleges in USA. Lexington, Virginia, is home to the private liberal arts college Washington and Lee University. George Washington was the academy’s first significant sponsor; in 1796, he gifted it with $20,000, the greatest gift ever made to a US educational institution.

Washington and Lee University front building

The university was once known as Augusta Academy and Liberty Hall, the latter name being derived from the American Revolution. The remaining part of the university’s current name comes from General Robert E. Lee, who presided over it from 1865 until his death in 1870.

10. Columbia University, which was founded in 1754.

Columbia University, which is based in New York City, was established in 1754 as King’s College by royal license issued by George II of Britain. Following the US’s independence, Columbia College has renamed Columbia University in 1784.

The Columbia University Alma Mater statue and the university library at its back.

Its colonial roots are echoed by the fact that five of the United States’ Founding Fathers are among its alumni. It is currently ranked joint 18th in the world this year.

Now that we know the oldest colleges in the USA, let’s now discover the oldest Ivy League colleges in the USA.

Oldest Ivy League Colleges

What are the oldest Ivy League Colleges? The most famous colleges and universities in the world are called Ivy League schools, and they are all located in the United States. They are known for providing top-notch education and scholarships. These universities have a worldwide reputation for academic quality. In the 1600s, the first Ivy League universities were founded, and it is truly one of the oldest colleges in USA.

Eight private and public universities came together to form the Ivy League in 1954. These institutions are well known for their rigorous admission requirements and academic excellence.

Cornell University, Columbia University, Dartmouth College, Brown University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, Yale University, and Harvard University are among the institutions that make up the group. The earliest Ivy League institutions will be discussed in this post, along with some fascinating information about them.

1. Cornell University

Year of Foundation: 1865

Location/Place: Ithaca, New York

Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White founded it.

Cornell Chimes at the Cornell campus

With its 1865 founding, Cornell University is the newest Ivy League institution. Because it was founded as a land grant university as a result of its founders’ commitment to higher education, it has been dubbed the “First American University.” In addition to campuses in New York City and Doha, Qatar, Cornell University is based in Ithaca, New York. It has the greatest acceptance rate out of all the Ivy League schools.

2. Columbia University

King’s University was founded in 1754, while Columbia University was founded in 1784. As Columbia University

Location: New York City’s Morningside Heights

King George II of Great Britain is the founder.

One of the oldest colleges in USA, since its inception as Columbia College in 1754 (one of the oldest colleges in the USA), the university has a long history and has earned the reputation of being the second-youngest Ivy League institution. The college was formerly exclusively for men, but it became co-ed in 1832.

In 1898, it moved from its original location in New York City to its current location on Morningside Drive, which helped the campus grow.

3. Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire Year Founded: 1769 Place or Location

Eleazar Wheelock, founder

The third-youngest Ivy League institution in the United States is Dartmouth University. It is renowned for its excellence in academics, athletics, and sustainability. Eleazar Wheelock established the institution in 1769 with the intention of giving young men from New England a place to go to school.

Aerial view of Dartmouth College.

Today, the college is still located in Hanover, New Hampshire, where students can take advantage of some of the region’s most stunning natural resources and surroundings.

4. Brown University

Location/Area: Warren, Rhode Island Year established: 1764

Founders: Morgan Edwards, James Manning, Moses Brown

The top-notch engineering, business, and arts programs at Brown University are well-known. For the past three years in a row, U.S. News & World Report has included the university in its list of the best universities in the world.

The university has many strengths, such as strong programs in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. It also has a great reputation for academic achievement.

5. Princeton University

Location/Distance: Princeton, New Jersey

Year Founded: 1746

Founders: Jonathan Dickinson, John Witherspoon, and Aaron Burr Sr.

In Princeton, New Jersey, there is a private Ivy League school called Princeton University. It was established in 1746 and is renowned for the quality of its undergraduate education and liberal arts program.

The university’s undergraduate curriculum provides a wide range of majors, including engineering, biology and biomedical sciences, economics, government, history, international relations and politics, psychology and sociology, and computer science/mathematics/computer science.

6. University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Place/Location: Year Founded: 1740

Founders: George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin

The University of Pennsylvania is the country’s fourth-oldest Ivy League institution. Since its founding in 1740 (one of the oldest colleges in the USA), it has regularly ranked among the best institutions in the world.

Benjamin Franklin intended to establish a school where young men could acquire courses that would help them succeed in life, so he had it established as a college. Since then, the school has grown and now offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in the arts and sciences, business, engineering, law, medicine, and dentistry.

7. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Year established: 1718; Place or location:

Creator: James Pierpont

One of the most prestigious universities in the United States and the second-oldest Ivy League institution is Yale University. In 1701, a group of clergymen and businessmen led by Rev. James Pierpont started it because they thought there was a problem with education in New Haven, Connecticut.

front view of Yale School of Music - one of the best music schools in the US

The university has both undergraduate and graduate programs in the arts and humanities, sciences, and arts and humanities.

8. Harvard University

Place/Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts Year Established: 1636

Founder: Massachusetts Bay Colony’s General Court

One of the oldest colleges in USA and the oldest Ivy League institution is Harvard. John Harvard (1607–1638), an English clergyman who generously donated to the fledgling institution, was honored with a new name for the school. Harvard College was founded in 1639 as an undergraduate institution and later merged with Harvard University.

Harvard College was referred to simply as “Harvard” for a long time.

We have already covered the oldest colleges in the USA and the oldest Ivy League colleges in the USA. Let’s now discover the most historic colleges in the USA.

Most Historic Colleges in USA

What are the most historic colleges in USA?

1. Harvard University established in 1636

Most people know the university for its well-known law school, its beautiful campus, and the fact that it was the first college in the United States.

2. University of Pennsylvania established in 1740

First student union and double-decker collegiate football stadium in the United States (1765); first medical school in the colonies;

3. Wesleyan College established in 1836

Wesleyan had a comprehensive math and science program, in contrast to many women’s universities of the day.

4. University of Virginia established in 1819

Most notable for Thomas Jefferson founded it as one of the first public Ivies. The oldest college debate club is at UVA. It is called the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society.

Many of the old buildings on campus are still there, like the dorm rooms where Edgar Allen Poe used to live.

5. College of William and Mary established in 1693

The first university in America to be granted a royal charter. The Institution of William & Mary (W&M) claims the status of the second-oldest college in America, despite the fact that the college’s charter was prepared before Harvard opened its doors. The oldest standing college building in one of the oldest colleges in USA was built on campus in 1700. The first law school, the first Greek-letter organization, and the first student honor code are just a few of the firsts that W&M can claim for higher education.

6. Columbia University established in 1754

Most Noted For: The fifth-oldest university in the nation and the oldest in New York State.

The school is well-known for its location in New York City, where students may experience metropolitan life and nightlife.

7. Yale University established in 1701

Prominent for: Launching the first graduate student scholarship program; a National Historic Landmark and the location of New Haven, Connecticut’s oldest building

8. University of Delaware established in 1743

Prominent alumni include Dr. Jill Biden, First Lady of the United States, and President Joe Biden. Several signers of the Declaration of Independence were among UD’s inaugural class.

one of the country’s oldest public colleges

The University of Delaware (UD), which was originally founded as a college for clergymen in New London, Pennsylvania, relocated to its current site in Newark, Delaware, in 1765. In 1914, the university established a women’s college, and in 1921, the two schools were combined.

9. Princeton University was established in 1746 (one of the oldest colleges in USA).

The first American Congress convened in Princeton’s Nassau Hall. 21 Rhodes Scholars have lived there just in the last ten years.  Princeton University has made a name for itself in the United States, much like the other Ivies.

10. Rutgers University established in 1766

One of the oldest colleges in USA  is best known for: Founded before the American Revolution As an advocate for diversity and open enrollment, she admitted the first Japanese student to a U.S. college in 1867.

As Queen’s College, Rutgers University was founded in 1766. Simeon De Witt, a graduate of Rutgers who assisted in the American Revolution’s victory at Yorktown, was one of the university’s many notable former students. James Schureman, a graduate, served in the first United States Congress.

We can assist if your goal is to enroll in one of the oldest colleges but you’re not sure how to go about it. With more than a decade of experience assisting kids like you in getting into the institutions of their dreams, AdmissionSight is a top college entry specialist.

We concentrate on providing a variety of services that are all designed to assist students in polishing their applications so that admissions personnel will take notice of them. To arrange a free consultation to find out more about what we provide, get in touch with us right away.




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