What Is Considered to Be the Earliest College Founded in America?


Quick Answer

Founded in 1636, Harvard is the first institution of higher learning in the United States. Harvard was established by the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and was originally named New College.

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Full Answer

Harvard opened its doors with nine students and one professor. The institution was renamed Harvard College in 1639 after its first benefactor, John Harvard, who left the school his library and half of his estate.

William and Mary is the nation's second-oldest college. Founded in 1693, its charter was signed by King William III and Queen Mary II of England. Plans for the institution go back to 1618, but an Indian uprising interrupted them. William and Mary granted a surveyor's license to George Washington when he was 17 years old. The school went on to become the first college in America to become a university.

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