20 Oldest Universities In The United States
The education system in the United States is one of the most diverse systems and provides life-changing opportunities for international students. With the largest economy and an excellent education framework, the country holds significant cultural importance globally.
The United States is home to some of the world's finest and oldest universities, which have successfully produced great leaders, artists, and various influential figures for ages. From the first African-American president of the USA to the world's wealthiest person, many have studied in at least one of these universities. Therefore, let's discover the list of the 20 oldest universities in the United States according to Yahoo.
1. Harvard University
Established Year: 1636
Founded By: Massachusetts legislature
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university, it is the oldest and most prestigious institution for higher education in the United States. The university includes ten academic faculties along with Harvard Radcliffe Institute.
The institution is spread over 5,076 acres of land and has three main campuses Cambridge, Allston, and Longwood. It also has administrative offices such as University Hall and Massachusetts Hall. This residential research university offers 50 undergraduate majors, 134 graduate degrees, and 32 professional degrees, with a mere four percent acceptance rate.
2. College of William & Mary
Established Year: 1693
Founded By: Royal Charter by King William III and Queen Mary II
Location: Williamsburg, Virginia
The College of William and Mary is a public research university and is the second oldest institution of higher education in the United States. It is classified among R2 Doctoral Universities with high research activities with personalized education in liberal arts and sciences.
There are over 115 majors, minors, and pre-professional programs available for students to choose from, with more than a third of them being in STEM and computational-related fields. The college is spread over a 1200-acre area and follows a semester-based academic calendar. The acceptance rate of the college is 37 percent.
3. Yale University
Established Year: 1701
Founded By: Congregationalist clergy
Location: New Haven, Connecticut
Yale University is also a private Ivy League research university and is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges that was chartered before the American Revolution.
The University consists of 14 constituent schools: An undergraduate college, Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, and 12 professional schools. It also has the third-largest library in the United States which holds over 15 million volumes. Its acceptance rate is 5% and it receives over 30,000 applications every year and selects around 1,300.
4. University of Pennsylvania
Established Year: 1740
Founded By: Benjamin Franklin
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Another private Ivy League research university, the University of Pennsylvania is one of nine colonial colleges chartered prior to the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The fourth-oldest institution of higher education has four undergraduate schools and 12 graduate professional schools.
The main campus is located in the University City neighborhood of West Philadelphia and is centered around College Hall. The core campus covers over 299 acres currently. It also acquires parks and arboreta along with Bolton Center, libraries, art installations, Penn museum, residence, and campus police. The acceptance rate of the university is only 6%, and for the class of 2026, it received 54,588 applications.
5. University of Delaware
Established Year: 1743
Founded By: Francis Alison
Location: Newark, Delaware
The University of Delaware is a privately governed state-assisted grant research university. The university offers three associate's programs, 148 bachelor's programs, 121 master's programs, and 55 doctoral programs across its eight colleges. It is also classified among R1: Doctoral Universities.
This renowned institute was the first American university to begin a study-abroad program, which was adopted by various reputed colleges and institutions. Delaware is particular with the student selection process, with a 70% acceptance rate, and for the class of 2023, it received 33,965 applications and accepted 24,679.
6. Princeton University
Established Year: 1746
Founded By: New Light Presbyterians
Location: Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton University is a private Ivy League research university and is one of the oldest institutions of higher education in the United States. It uses a residential college system and is known for its upperclassmen eating clubs with over 500 student organizations.
The Ivy League institution provides undergraduate and graduate instruction to approximately 8,500 students on its 600-acre main campus with over 200 buildings. Princeton's undergraduate program is highly selective and it receives applications from 10,000 to 15,000 students with an acceptance rate of 4%. As the student body is relatively small, 98 percent of undergraduates live on campus.
7. Washington & Lee University
Established Year: 1749
Founded By: Scotch-Irish Presbyterian pioneers
Location: Lexington, Virginia
Washington and Lee University is a private liberal arts college and is among the oldest institutions of higher learning in the United States. The university consists of three academic units, the Williams School of Commerce, the School of Law, and the main college itself.
According to the 2022 U.S. News and World Report rankings, the undergraduate college ranks 11th among national liberal arts colleges and 9th among all law schools. There are over 50 courses available, and for the class of 2026, the university received 7,229 applications, of which only 1,229 were accepted, resulting in an acceptance rate of 17%.
8. Columbia University
Established Year: 1754
Founded By: Royal Charter of George II of Great Britain
Location: New York City, New York
Columbia University is a private Ivy League research university, it is the oldest institution of higher education in New York and the fifth oldest in the U.S. The university is organized into twenty schools, which include four undergraduate schools and 16 graduate schools.
The main campus of Columbia occupies more than six city blocks, or 32 acres, in Morningside Heights, New York City. For the class of 2025, Columbia University received 60,551 applications, and a total of around 2,218 were admitted to the two schools for an overall acceptance rate of 3.66 percent.
9. Brown University
Established Year: 1764
Founded By: Baptist Church Association support
Location: Providence, Rhode Island
Brown University is also a private Ivy League research university. It is one of nine colonial colleges that was chartered before the American Revolution and the first college in the U.S. to codify in its charter that admission and instruction of students were to be equal regardless of their religious affiliation.
The main campus of the university comprises 235 buildings and 143 acres of land. About 7,200 undergraduate students are enrolled in the college every year with more than 81 courses. For the undergraduate class of 2026, the institution received 50,649 applications, which is comparitive more than the previous year, and it has an acceptance rate of 5%.
10. Rutgers University
Established Year: 1766
Founded By: Ministers of the Dutch Reformed Church
Location: New Brunswick, New Jersey
Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey is a public land-grant research university consisting of four campuses and falls on the oldest college list in the United States. Along with four campuses, the university has additional facilities throughout the state including oceanographic.
The public university offers more than 100 distinct bachelor's, 100 master's, and 80 doctoral and professional degree programs. For the class of 2025, the New Brunswick campus received 43,161 applications and accepted 29, 419 students with an acceptance rate of 68.2%.
11. Dartmouth College
Established Year: 1769
Founded By: Eleazar Wheelock
Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
Dartmouth College is a private Ivy League research University and is one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Dartmouth is majorly focused on undergraduate education and has 40 academic departments and interdisciplinary programs, including 60 majors.
The university has a unique year-round academic calendar and operates on a quarter system consisting of four 10-week terms per year. It is situated on a 23-acre rural campus. The institution received 28,841 applications for the incoming class of 2023, with only 6.2% being accepted.
12. College of Charleston
Established Year: 1770
Founded By: Several prominent South Carolinians
Location: Charleston, South Carolina
The College of Charleston is a public university and is one of the oldest universities in South Carolina. The teaching institute consists of seven academic schools, as well as the Honors College and the Graduate Schools with a mix of modern and historic 156 buildings.
The first public liberal arts and sciences-based institution in South Carolina and the campus size is 80 acres with its urban setting. College of Charleston follows a semester-based academic calendar with an average tuition fee and has a high acceptance rate of 76 percent.
13. Transylvania University
Established Year: 1780
Founded By: Virginia Assembly
Location: Lexington, Kentucky
Transylvania University is a private liberal arts university and is the first university in Kentucky. This university offers 46 major programs including dual-degree engineering programs and is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The private university is located on a 48-acre urban campus, it has 24 buildings, 3 athletic fields, 3 dinning areas, and a National Historic Landmark. Transylvania has an acceptance rate of 92% and offers 46 majors and 37 minors in various different subject divisions and 95 percent of students find employment within 6 months of graduation.
14. University of Georgia
Established Year: 1785
Founded By: Georgia General Assembly
Location: Athens, Georgia
The public land-grant research university, the University of Georgia is one of the oldest public universities in the United States and is the flagship school of the University System of Georgia. It has been ranked by major institutional rankings among the best public universities in the U.S.
This university has seventeen schools and colleges and is home to the University of Georgia/Medical College of Georgia. The main campus is made up of 465 buildings in an area of 762 acres and the acceptance rate is 40 percent. It is also considered to be a Public Ivy, that offers an academic experience equivalent to an Ivy League university.
15. University of Pittsburgh
Established Year: 1787
Founded By: Hugh Henry Brackenridge
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The University of Pittsburgh is a public state-related research university that is composed of 17 undergraduate and graduate schools and colleges at its urban Pittsburgh campus. The campus also has 17 libraries with Hillman Library being the largest one.
The main Pittsburgh campus consists of 132 acres of land and houses and includes a large number of the university's notable buildings, such as the Cathedral of Learning. For the class of 2026, the campus received 53,062 applications and accepted 26,077 with an acceptance rate of 49.1 percent.
16. Georgetown University
Established Year: 1789
Founded By: John Carroll
Location: Washington, D.C.
Georgetown University is a private Jesuit research university and is the oldest Roman Catholic institution of higher education in the United States. It has 11 undergraduate and graduate schools and is classified among R1 Doctoral Universities.
The undergraduate and graduate students take classes at five locations: Main Campus, Medical Center, Law Center, School of Continuing Studies, and the university’s Georgetown Qatar campus. The campus size is 104 acres and it is ranked 22 in the U.S. with a 12% acceptance rate.
17. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Established Year: 1789
Founded By: North Carolina General Assembly
Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is a public research university and is considered to be one of the Public Ivies. The institute offers degrees in over 70 courses of study and is divided into 13 separate professional schools and a primary unit, the College of Arts and Sciences.
The third largest university in North Carolina covers 729 acres of land and the students can participate in over 550 officially recognized student organizations. The institute enrolls more than 28,000 students and applications from international students have doubled in the past few years with a 19% acceptance rate.
18. The University of Vermont
Established Year: 1791
Founded By: Ira Allen
Location: Burlington, Vermont
The University of Vermont is a public land-grant research university and is the oldest in Vermont and fifth-oldest in New England making it among the oldest in the United States. It consists of 10 schools and is classified among R2 Doctoral Universities.
The higher education institute offers over 100 undergraduate majors in different colleges like seven undergraduate colleges, an honors college, a graduate college, and a college of medicine on 460 acres of land. It has an average acceptance rate of 64% and the popular courses are liberal arts, life scenes, engineering, and pre-professional degrees.
19. The University of Tennessee
Established Year: 1794
Founded By: Legislature of the Southwest Territory
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
The University of Tennessee is also a public-land grant research university with ten undergraduate colleges and eleven graduate colleges. The campus covers an area of 910 acres, is located in an urban setting, and follows a semester-based academic calendar.
There are 14 residence halls and 18 living and learning communities available for students to choose from. In 2015, the campus received 29,909 applications and accepted 22,413 students with a 74.9% acceptance rate. Since then, new facilities have been built for engineering, business, and music programs.
20. University of South Carolina-Beaufort
Established Year: 1795
Founded By: South Carolina General Assembly
The University of South Carolina Beaufort is a public college with three campuses that enrolls about 2000 students and offers over 20 programs of study. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The campus is situated in a 208-acre rural location and has a variety of student organizations, including special interest clubs, religious groups, honor societies, and academic clubs. With an acceptance rate of 84%, it is relatively easy to get admission, and the tuition fees are also affordable for both national and international students.
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