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History of W&J

Washington & Jefferson College is one of the most venerable institutions in the United States of America. Founded in 1781 by a group of pioneering Presbyterian ministers, the College is located in Washington, Pennsylvania, just 30 miles south of Pittsburgh, and provides undergraduates with a top-ranked four-year, co-ed liberal arts and sciences education. The pre-law and pre-health programs at Washington & Jefferson, in particular, are internationally recognized.

W&J College’s storied history begins shortly after the American Revolution, when three log cabin schools merged to become Washington College in 1781. The College joined with Jefferson College (formerly Canonsburg Academy) in 1865 to form Washington & Jefferson College as we know it today. Although the Civil War temporarily divided the student body, the College persevered and continued its legacy of producing young men well-versed in their fields of law, medicine, and religion, among a growing number of areas of study. W&J hit another difficult time during World War II when enrollment dropped to just 60 students in 1944, but as the war came to an end enrollment steadily increased, bringing students with renewed drive and new ideas.

W&J admitted women as fulltime, undergraduate students for the first time in 1970, and the College’s enrollment has since grown to nearly 1,400, including students from 26 states and 11 countries. The College’s history speaks to our strength and initiative, as well as our dedication to academics and diversity, and is a testament to our motto: Juncta Juvant: Together We Thrive.

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