USA Oldest Universities: Top 10

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There are a lot of universities in the united states of America, but this list goes ahead to show us the oldest universities in USA.

Oldest Universities

Today, going to college after they considered high school the norm so much so that it’s hard to believe there was ever a time when higher education didn’t actually exist.

Back in the 1600s, the college began as a source of education for those going into the ministry.

Years later, the schools grew to focus on a broader range of studies, including medicine and law, and eventually agriculture and engineering.

In the beginning, college was only an option for men, and for a long time, there weren’t many schools throughout the country. Higher education has come a long way since then.

Some of the universities on this list are top-rated and have existed since the 17th century.

Half of the universities on this list of top 10 oldest universities in the USA are also elite schools or Ivy League universities rated for their exceptional quality and standard of education.

Top 10 Oldest Universities in the USA

To qualify to be on our list of the oldest universities in America, the schools must still educate students today. Let the countdown begin!

1. Harvard University

Founded in 1636, Harvard University became a chartered university in 1650. Harvard University is in Massachusetts and was called New College at first.

Over time, they changed it to Harvard College to honour the school’s first benefactor name John Harvard.

John Harvard willed fifty per cent of the monetary estate he owned and 320-volume scholar’s library to the school.

Harvard University is not just the oldest university in the USA, we always rate highly it on the list of top universities in the world and for this year, they rate the prestigious university number 2 on the QS World University Rankings®.

When you localize your search for life sciences and medicine, you’d realize Harvard is the number one university in that area of education.

2. The College of William and Mary

They found the College of William and Mary in 1693.

However, they named the school after the British monarchs, who ruled jointly as the university was founded and the monarchs gave the university its royal charter.

This charter made The College of William and Mary. Also, is the first university to get it in the US. It is the second oldest university in the US and the oldest in the south of the US.

On recent QS World University Rankings®, it is ranked from 581 to 590 and in the top list of arts and college schools. It has 3 USA presidents as its alumni, Thomas Jefferson being one of them.

3. The St. John’s College

St. John’s College is a privately owned College of Liberal Arts which was first established as King William’s School. Also, it was a free school in the then Maryland colony.

The ‘free’ means the emancipation of people via education.

However, In 1784, they renamed it St. John’s College with two campuses in Annapolis which is Maryland’s state capital and in Santa Fe, New Mexico’s state capital.

The U.S. News & World Report listed the school in the US’ top 100 liberal arts colleges.

Most people do not realise that St. John’s College is not owned by any religious body. And its class sizes are small to make students get personal with the tutoring activities.

4. Yale University

They found Yale University in 1701 and it is the 4th oldest university in the USA while being ranked number 15 for this year the world over. It was established as a Collegiate School initially.

In 1718, it got its name Yale University as a tribute to Elihu Yale, who was the governor of the British East India Company for gifting the school.

In the same 1718, the school moved to its permanent location in New Haven, Connecticut.

Training of ministers in theology and sacred languages was the initial goal of founding Yale University, but it started adding humanities and sciences in 1777.

Also, it started award PhDs in 1861 and is ranked number 4 in World Best Universities to Study Law and number 6 to study arts and humanities.

5. The University of Pennsylvania

They found the University of Pennsylvania in 1740 and became a charter in 1755.

Benjamin Franklin and their undergraduate established it and postgraduate studies were the first of their kind in any of US university.

It also was amongst the first different courses with specialisations in complicated fields and had a medical school. However, the first for a US university was in 1765.

Therefore, they rank the University of Pennsylvania 19th in the world and 5th for business management, for its law and management courses being famous. It’s a focused research drive too.

6. Moravian College

Also, they found moravian College in 1742, and it is in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

However, the college has its origins as Bethlehem Female Seminary established by 16-year-old Countess Benigna von Zinzendorf as the first US boarding school for females.

It later was known as The Moravian Female Seminary and became a charter giving baccalaureate degrees in 1863 while growing to Moravian Seminary and College for Women in 1913.

About 40 years later, in 1954, the school became all-inclusive for all genders.

7. University of Delaware

However, one of the oldest universities in the USA. The University of Delaware traces its roots to 1743 when a petition by the Presbytery of Lewes expressing the need for an educated clergy led the Rev. Dr Francis Alison to open a school in New London, Pennsylvania.

By 1765, Alison’s school moved to Newark. Newark College opened as a degree-granting institution in 1834 and was renamed Delaware College in 1843. In 1867, they designated the college one of the nation’s historic Land-Grant colleges.

A women’s college opened in 1914 with 58 students, and in 1921, the two colleges joined to become the University of Delaware.

8. Princeton University

Princeton University was established in 1746 first as the College of New Jersey by New Light Presbyterians for the training of pastors.

Also, it has a rich history which is famous worldwide, especially its architecture like the Nassau Hall which was briefly for 4 months the capital of the US.

Still, Princeton University is number 13 in the QS World University Rankings® and number 7 for arts and humanities. Meanwhile, for politics and international studies it is number 3.

9. Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, is a nationally ranked, small, private, liberal arts university nestled in the mountains of western Virginia.

As one of the oldest universities in the USA, founded in 1749, they believe in the education of the whole person, and value students who are intellectually curious.

Also, they were eager to engage with their communities, inclined to critical thinking, and prepared to lead lives of consequence.

10. Columbia University

However, they found the royal charter of King George II of England in 1754 as King’s College. It is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and one of the oldest colleges in the US.

Also, In 1897, the university moved from Forty-ninth Street and Madison Avenue, where it had stood for forty years, to its present location on Morningside Heights at 116th Street and Broadway.

Seth Low, the president of the University at the time of the move, sought to create an academic village in a more spacious setting.


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Hello readers, you are welcome to your info connect. My name is Emmanuel, I am a graduate Mechanical Engineer, a blogger, and Digital Marketer. I share educational and career information and content to enable viewers who are aiming for success to attain it in their various fields. I hope you enjoy your tour here.

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