The Oldest Universities in the U.S.

Oldest Universities in the US

We have a list of the oldest universities and colleges in the United States. Some of them are ranked very high overall in the world, as well as being members of the honored Ivy League. They all have very rich heritage and notable alumni. However, the oldest college in the United States is Harvard University founded in 1636 and chartered in 1650. Now lets take a look at the other oldest colleges and universities in the United States.

The oldest universities in the US are:

Harvard University – 1636 (chartered in 1650)

Located in Massachusetts, it was called New College at first before being renamed to Harvard. It was named after John Harvard, who gave money to the school. It is one of the world’s prestige college universities and a top Ivy league school.

College of William and Mary – 1693

It was named after the British Monarchs who were over the city. Once the school of famous president, Thomas Jefferson, this school is the oldest in the South.

Yale University – 1701

Ranked 15th in the world and was founded as “College School” but renamed to Yale because of a gift received from Elihu Yale. It was the first school to award a PhD. Yale is located in New Haven, Connecticut.

Princeton University – 1746

It was called College of New Jersey at first before being renamed to Princeton 10 years later. It is currently ranked as a top 10 school in the world overall.

Columbia University – 1754

Located in New York City, Columbia was chartered in 1754 and originally called King’s College before being renamed in 1784. It is known for the famous Pulitzer Prize and is ranked 16th in the world overall.

Older universities are more prestigious and a degree from these schools is instantly recognized as something to be proud of. Did you go to one of these older Ivy league schools? Post your comment below! Also, we have a list of the largest universities in USA.

Search more about these colleges at our college finder.

This story was originally published in November 2009. It has been updated August 2018.








6 Responses to “The Oldest Universities in the U.S.”

  1. Amber says:

    Harvard College*

  2. Laura says:

    California State University Channel Islands opened in 2002.

  3. fbrooks says:

    List is hard to come by. This is what I believe are the oldest 11. Question on St. John’s in Annapolis and Monrovian Divinity in Bethlehem, PA…

    1636 – Harvard University – Cambridge, MA
    1693 – College of William & Mary – Williamsburg, VA
    1701 – Yale University – New Haven, CT
    1740 – University of Pennsylvania – Philadelphia, PA
    1743 – University of Delaware – Newark, DE
    1746 – Princeton University – Princeton, NJ
    1749 – Washington & Lee University – Lexington, VA
    1754 – Columbia University – New York, NY
    1764 – Brown University – Providence, RI
    1766 – Rutgers Univversity – Newark, NJ
    1769 – Dartmouth College – Hanover, NH

  4. mathmom says:

    What about Olin College, founded in 1997 (I believe)?

  5. Tom Thumb says:

    Ave Maria was founded in 2002, not 2007. With 600 students, it is a “major” university?


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