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Yale University

a private Ivy League research university located in New Haven, Connecticut


Yale traces its beginnings to "An Act for Liberty to Erect a Collegiate School", passed by the General Court of the Colony of Connecticut on October 9, 1701, in an effort to create an institution to train ministers and lay leadership for Connecticut. Originally called the "Collegiate School", the institution was first located in Bramford. The first Bachelor of Arts degree was granted in 1703. The school was moved to Saybrook (now Old Saybrook) in 1712, and to New Haven in 1716. In 1718 it was renamed Yale College in honor of its benefactor, Welsh merchant Elihu Yale. The name Yale University was officially adopted in 1887.

Elihu Yale
Elihu Yale

The first Chinese citizen to earn a degree at a Western college or university came to Yale in 1850. The first Doctor of Philosophy degree to be given in the country was conferred at Yale in 1861. Women were first admitted at the graduate level in 1869 (but they were not admitted as undergraduates until 1969).


The oldest division of the university, Yale College, offers courses leading to Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. There are a total of twelve undergraduate colleges, with a total enrollment of approximately 5,300 students.

The first professional school established at Yale was the School of Medicine, in 1810. Other graduate divisions are the Schools of Architecture (1972), Art (1869), Arts and Sciences (1847), Divinity (1822), Drama (1955), Engineering, Foresty and Environmental Studies (1900), Law (1824), Music (1894), Nursing (1923), and Organization and Management (1974). Other professional divisions are the Institute of Far Eastern Languages and the Institution for Social and Policy Studies.


Yale University occupies more than 1,000 acres in and around New Haven. The oldest existing structure is Connecticut Hall, built in 1752. Other prominent structures include Harkness Tower, housing a 54-bell carillon; the Payne Whitney Gymnasium; the School of Art and Architecture, designed by the American architect Paul Rudolph; and Ezra Stiles College, Morse College, and the Yale Cooperative Association, all designed by noted alumnus Eero Saarinen.

view of Yale University campus showing Harkness Memorial Tower
view of Yale University campus showing Harkness Memorial Tower

Yale is home to some of the most notable museums in the country, including: the Yale University Art Gallery, the oldest college-affiliated art museum in the United States; the Yale Center for British Art; the Peabody Museum of Natural History; and the Museum of Musical Instruments, which contains more than 800 rare musical instruments.

The libraries of Yale contain more than 7.5 million volumes, most of them housed in the Sterling Memorial Library. Outstanding among the special collections housed in the Yale libraries are the William Robertson Coe collection of western Americana, the Babylonian Collection, the Benjamin Franklin Papers, the papers of the American writer Gertrude Stein, and the video archives of the Holocaust.

Other Information

University publications include the Yale Review, a quarterly literary journal; the Yale Law Journal; the Yale Daily News, the nation's oldest college daily newspaper, founded in 1878; and, the Yale Literary Magazine.

Notable graduates of Yale include: the colonial patriot Nathan Hale; many writers, including Jonathan Edwards, Noah Webster, and James Fenimore Cooper; the inventors Eli Whitney and Samuel Finley Breese Morse; Supreme Court Justice David J. Brewer; and, U.S. Presidents William Howard Taft and George H. Bush. President Gerald R. Ford and Supreme Court Justices Benjamin Cardozo, William O. Douglas, and Clarence Thomas are just some of the notable graduates of the Yale Law School.

The Yale website is

See Also

Eero Saarinen
Nathan Hale
Noah Webster
James Fenimore Cooper
Eli Whitney
Samuel Finley Breese Morse
David J. Brewer
William Howard Taft
Gerald R. Ford

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The Robinson Library >> Education >> Individual Institutions: United States

This page was last updated on 10/09/2018.