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List of colonial colleges
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List of colonial colleges

This page contains a list of the colonial colleges -- the American institutions of higher education which were founded before the American revolution and hence in one of Britain's American colonies.

Nine such colleges existed. Only one of these (Pennsylvania) had begun calling itself a "University" by the time of the revolution; but each of the nine had assumed the power, in Europe only held by universities, of granting degrees. They are listed below in the order in which they began granting degrees, along with the religious groups which were instrumental in each college's foundation and early history: all have long since become secular. (Note that the public/private and religious/secular boundaries were blurrier then than today.)

institutioncolonyfoundation date
(commonly accepted)
first degrees grantedreligious affiliation or influence
William and MaryVirginia1696?Anglican
The College of New Jersey (today Princeton)New Jersey1746?Presbyterian
King's College (today Columbia)New York1754?Anglican
The College of PennsylvaniaPennsylvania17491757non-sectarian (predominently Anglican and Quaker)
Rhode Island College (today Brown)Rhode Island1764?Baptist
Queen's College (today Rutgers)New Jersey1766?Dutch Reformed
DartmouthNew Hampshire1769?Puritan

A number of other present-day colleges and universities trace their origins to schools founded before the revolution; but none had begun awarding degrees at that date.

The overlap between this group and the Ivy League is considerable; the only league member too young for this list is Cornell (not founded until 1865). Conversely, the two ancient colleges not in the Ivy League are William and Mary (today a small, highly selective semi-pubic liberal arts college); and Rutgers (today the state university of New Jersey).