- The oldest college in each US state includes some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country and several flagship state universities.
- The oldest college in the United States is Harvard University, founded in 1636.
- Meanwhile, the most recent state to get a college for the first time is Alaska.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The United States is home to some pretty old colleges and universities.
In fact, there are more than a dozen that are older than America itself â€” none older than Harvard University, which was founded in 1636.
Meanwhile, other states took longer to open their first colleges. The most recent state to get its first college is Alaska, whose University of Alaska Fairbanks celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017.
Across the US, the list of oldest colleges in each state features some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the country as well as flagship state universities and a handful of lesser-known schools.
Read on to find out the oldest college in every US state and Washington, DC.
ALABAMA: Spring Hill College in Mobile
Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, was founded in 1830 and claims to be Alabama’s oldest institution of higher learning. According to the school’s website, it is the first Catholic college in the Southeast United States, the third-oldest Jesuit college, and the fifth-oldest Catholic college in the US.
ALASKA: The University of Alaska Fairbanks in Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2017. The university was founded in 1917, however, classes didn’t officially open until 1922, according to the school’s website. In 1935, the Alaska Agricultural College and School of Mines became the University of Alaska. The school awarded its first Ph.D. in 1955.
ARIZONA: The University of Arizona in Tucson
The University of Arizona dates back to 1885, with enrollment at the school beginning in 1891. According to Britannica, in 1915, the university consisted of just three colleges – letters, arts, and sciences; mines and engineering; and agriculture. Today, there are more than 15 colleges for students to choose from.
ARKANSAS: University of the Ozarks in Clarksville
The University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas, was founded in 1834 by Cumberland Presbyterian officials. The first classes were held in a two-room log schoolhouse. The name would eventually change from Cane Hill College to The College of the Ozarks and later The University of the Ozarks.
In 1957, The University of the Ozarks became the first traditionally white college in Arkansas to admit African American students, according to the school’s website.
CALIFORNIA: Santa Clara University in Santa Clara
Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, was founded in 1851 as a preparatory school, though it has roots as a mission back to the late 1700s. In 1853, the school began offering collegiate courses.
COLORADO: The University of Denver in Denver
The University of Denver dates back to 1864 when it was known as the Colorado Seminary. According to the university’s website, it was founded just six years after the founding of Denver City in what was then called the Colorado Territory. It later established one of the very first business schools in the entire country.
CONNECTICUT: Yale University in New Haven
Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, is one of America’s oldest educational institutions – according to the university, it has roots back to the 1640s, and became Yale College in 1718, 17 years after the Connecticut legislature adopted a charter to erect a Collegiate School.
DELAWARE: The University of Delaware in Newark
The University of Delaware was founded in 1743, making it one of the oldest educational institutions in the country. According to the university’s website, a separate college opened in 1914 with 58 female students. In 1921, the two colleges merged to become the University of Delaware.
WASHINGTON, DC: Georgetown University in Washington, DC
Georgetown University in Washington, DC, was founded in 1789. According to the university’s website, it is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institution of higher learning in the United States. Classes began in 1792 and within the first year of the school’s operations, the class size had grown to more than 40 students.
FLORIDA: Florida State University in Tallahassee
Florida State University in Tallahassee dates back to 1851. Though the first recognised college in the US is Rollings College in Winter Park, Florida, Rollings wasn’t founded until 1855, making Florida State University technically the oldest in the state.
GEORGIA: The University of Georgia in Athens
The University of Georgia in Athens became the first university in the country to have a state-supported charter in 1785. The university was established in 1801 after a group of board trustees officially selected a land site.
HAWAII: The University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu
The University of Hawaii at Manoa in Honolulu, Hawaii, was founded slightly more recently as far as old colleges go. According to the university’s website, it was founded in 1907 under the Morrill Act as “a land-grant college of agriculture and mechanic arts.”
IDAHO: Brigham Young University Idaho in Rexburg
Brigham Young University Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho, was founded in 1888. It started as Bannock Stake Academy and is owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. According to the school’s website, the institution officially became known as Brigham Young University-Idaho in August 2001.
ILLINOIS: McKendree University in Lebanon
McKendree University in Lebanon, Illinois, was founded in 1828 by pioneer methodists in the state. According to the university’s website, it is the oldest college in Illinois and the oldest in the nation with continuous ties to the United Methodist Church.
INDIANA: Vincennes University in Vincennes
Vincennes University in Vincennes, Indiana, opened in 1801 under the name Jefferson Academy. According to the university’s website, Vincennes is also the oldest city in Indiana, with many pieces of architecture dating back to its time as a French fur trading post.
IOWA: Loras College in Dubuque
Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, was founded in 1839 as a school intended to educate young men for the priesthood. Loras College adopted its present name in 1939 and became a coeducational institution in the fall of 1971.
KANSAS: Baker University in Baldwin City
Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, was founded in February 1858. The university opened its doors to students later that year.
KENTUCKY: Transylvania University in Lexington
Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky, was founded in 1780. According to the university, the first classes were held near Danville, Kentucky, in a cabin owned by one the first chairman of the Board of Trustees in 1785.
LOUISIANA: Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport
Centenary College of Louisiana in Shreveport was founded in 1825, during which time it was known as the College of Louisiana. It is the 43rd oldest college in the United States. According to the university’s website, tuition in the early days of the school was just $US50 per year, and room, board, and firewood were $US7 per month.
MAINE: Bowdoin College in Brunswick
Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, was established in 1794. According to Britannica, classes officially began in 1802, and women were admitted for the first time in 1971.
MARYLAND: St. John’s College in Annapolis
St. John’s College in Annapolis was founded in 1696. According to the school’s website, it is the third oldest college in the United States, behind Harvard University and College of William and Mary. It was originally founded under the name The King William’s School.
MASSACHUSETTS: Harvard University in Cambridge
Harvard University is the oldest college in the entire country – it dates back to 1636. The school was named after a young minister by the name of John Harvard, who, according to the university, left his library and half of his estate to the institution upon his death in 1638.
MICHIGAN: The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor
The University of Michigan was founded in 1817 as a preparatory school in Detroit. According to Britannica, the school moved to its present site in Ann Arbor in 1837.
MINNESOTA: University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in Minneapolis
The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities was established in 1851, seven years before the creation of the state itself in 1858. Both male and female students received instruction from the school before the school closed during the Civil War. The University of Minnesota reopened in 1867 and was reorganized as a university in 1869.
MISSISSIPPI: Mississippi College in Clinton
Founded in 1826 as Hampstead Academy, Mississippi College is the oldest educational institution in Mississippi. It is located in Clinton, Mississippi, and was renamed Mississippi Academy in January 1827, when the school began offering classes to both male and female students.
MISSOURI: Saint Louis University in St. Louis
Saint Louis University was founded inside a private residence near the Mississippi River at the request of the Rev. Louis William DuBourg, Catholic Bishop of Louisiana, in 1818. Not only is Saint Louis University the oldest educational institution of higher learning in Missouri, but it’s also the oldest institution west of the Mississippi River, according to the school’s website.
MONTANA: Rocky Mountain College in Billings
Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, dates back to 1878 and originally comprised of three separate colleges. In 1947, the schools combined to become Billings Polytechnic Institute, later named Rocky Mountain College.
NEBRASKA: Peru State College in Peru
Peru State College is the oldest college in Nebraska – it was founded in 1867. It was originally established as a teacher training school with 60 students attending classes in one building. However, the institution has since expanded immensely.
NEVADA: The University of Nevada in Reno
The University of Nevada was founded in 1874 after the Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862. The University’s first iteration was located in Elko but has since moved to Reno, Nevada.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: Dartmouth College in Hanover
Dartmouth College was founded in 1769. It’s the ninth-oldest university in the nation, according to the school, and has been in operation for more than 250 years.
NEW JERSEY: Princeton University in Princeton
Princeton University was chartered in 1746, according to the university’s website. The university was relocated to Princeton University in 1756 and changed its name from the College of New Jersey to Princeton University in 1896. Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States.
NEW MEXICO: New Mexico State University in Las Cruces
New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico, was founded in 1888 as the state’s first land-grant university. Throughout its history, the university has operated under multiple names, including Las Cruces College and New Mexico College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.
NEW YORK: Columbia University in New York
Columbia University is the oldest college in the state of New York. It was founded in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of King George II of England, according to the school’s website.
It is the fifth oldest institute of higher learning in the United States and played a vital role in American history through some of its first students and trustees, namely “John Jay, the first chief justice of the United States; Alexander Hamilton, the first secretary of the treasury; Gouverneur Morris, the author of the final draft of the U.S. Constitution; and Robert R. Livingston, a member of the five-man committee that drafted the Declaration of Independence,” according to the school’s website.
NORTH CAROLINA: Salem College in Winston-Salem
Salem College was founded in 1772, four years before the United States declared its independence from Great Britain. It was originally founded as a school for girls and is still recognised as the oldest educational institution for girls and women in America, according to the college’s website.
NORTH DAKOTA: The University of North Dakota in Grand Forks
The University of North Dakota was founded in 1883, six years before North Dakota became recognised as a state. The very first graduating class was coeducational and consisted of six women and two men. Of them, Dr. Cora Smith King became the first woman to receive a medical licence in the state of North Dakota, according to the university’s website.
OHIO: Ohio University in Athens
Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, was founded in 1804 after the Ohio legislature approved a new act allowing the university to be established. Ohio University first offered classes in 1809, during which time the institution operated more like a high school than a college, according to the university’s website.
In 1822, after Ohio University was able to hire a team of higher-skilled faculty members, the school began to offer a traditional college program.
OKLAHOMA: University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond
The University of Central Oklahoma was founded in 1890. In November 1891, the very first class of 23 students met in the Epworth League Room inside the unfurnished First Methodist Church, according to the school’s website.
OREGON: Willamette University in Salem
Willamette University was established in 1842 as a missionary school. The university is one of the oldest coeducational colleges in the United States – the very first graduate of the university was a woman, and women were attending the School of Medicine as early as 1877, according to the Willamette University website.
PENNSYLVANIA: The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia dates back to 1740 when it was established as a charity school that would also house a place of worship for local people in Pennsylvania. It was the first American institute of higher learning to officially bear the name “university,” according to the school.
RHODE ISLAND: Brown University in Providence
Brown University was founded in 1764 as the third college in New England and the seventh in America. Originally located in Warren, Rhode Island, it was the first Ivy League school to accept students from all religious affiliations, according to the school’s website.
SOUTH CAROLINA: College of Charleston in Charleston
The College of Charleston was founded in 1770 and officially charted in 1785, according to Britannica. The city of Charleston took control of the college in 1836, making it the first municipal college in the nation.
SOUTH DAKOTA: Augustana University in Sioux Falls
Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, was founded in 1860, though the university’s roots were established as Hillsboro Academy, which was founded in 1835. The first class was held on September 1, 1860, which coincides with the founding date of Augustana’s sister-college, Augustana College, in Rock Island, Illinois.
TENNESSEE: Tusculum College in Tusculum
Tusculum College in Tusculum, Tennessee, was chartered in 1794 as Greeneville College. In 1844, the renamed Tusculum Academy officially adopted the name Tusculum College, according to the school’s website.
TEXAS: Southwestern University in Georgetown
Southwestern University in Georgetown was founded in 1840, five years after Colonel William B. Travis wrote a letter to the New York Christian Advocate asking for a Methodist presence to be established in Texas, according to the school’s website.
The school claims to have been the site of many firsts, including the first homecoming on record and the first student literary journal in the state.
UTAH: The University of Utah in Salt Lake City
Originally named the University of Deseret, the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, was founded in 1850. The first term began in November 1850, during which time only male students were admitted. At the start of the second term, both men and women were allowed to attend.
VERMONT: Castleton University in Castleton
Nestled in the quaint town of Castleton, Vermont, Castleton University was founded in 1787. It is the 18th oldest institute of higher learning in the country, according to its website, and sits on a historic 165-acre campus.
VIRGINIA: College of William & Mary in Williamsburg
The College of William & Mary is located in the historic colonial town of Williamsburg, Virginia, and dates all the way back to 1693. It is the second-oldest institute of higher learning in the US and has a lengthy list of esteemed and influential alumni members.
According to the school’s website, American presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler all studied at William & Mary, in addition to 16 members of the Continental Congress and four signers of the Declaration of Independence.
WASHINGTON: The University of Washington in Seattle
The University of Washington in Seattle, originally named the Territorial University of Washington, is the oldest in the state – it was founded in 1861. In 1867, the tuition price to attend UW was just $US30.
WEST VIRGINIA: Bethany College in Bethany
Bethany College was founded in 1840, though the town of Bethany dates back to 1769. By the time that West Virginia was recognised as a US state in 1863, Bethany College was the only institute of higher learning in the state to offer collegiate degrees.
WISCONSIN: Carroll University in Waukesha
Carroll University was chartered in 1846 by the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature, two years before Wisconsin became a state. The school was originally established as an academy in 1841 by settlers living in the Wisconsin Territory community of Prairieville. When the college first opened, the enrollment consisted of five students and two faculty members, Eleazar Root and John W. Sterling, according to the university’s website.
WYOMING: The University of Wyoming in Laramie
The University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming, was founded as a land-grant university in 1886. When the school first opened, there were five faculty members and 42 students.
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