History of Arcadia

A leader in study abroad and a pioneer in international education, Arcadia University has for more than 160 years prepared the leaders of tomorrow through immersion with cultures, places, people, and languages around the world. Arcadia University undergraduate and graduate students engage in integrative, real-world learning opportunities such as internships, evidence-based research, service learning, interdisciplinary study, problem-based learning and co-curricular learning experiences that expand beyond the traditional classroom. More than 2,500 undergraduate and 1,400 graduate students study at our Glenside, Pa., and Christiana, Del., campuses in more than 65 fields of study. The College of Global Studies at Arcadia University offers study abroad programs to students from colleges and universities across the U.S. in addition to Arcadia undergraduates through more than 130 programs in 14 countries. The Institute for International Education's Open Doors Report has ranked Arcadia University #1 in the U.S. for study abroad participation for six consecutive years.

Arcadia University was founded in 1853 in the town of Beaver in western Pennsylvania, south of Pittsburgh. At that time, there were few seminaries or colleges open to young women. Women were not thought to have a capacity for intellectual pursuits equal to that of men; hence, the education of girls was usually limited to reading, writing, a smattering of French, drawing, painting, music, and embroidery. Rejecting these societal limits, the 15 founders of the Beaver Female Seminary instead opened a Seminary of Learning for the education of female youths in the arts, sciences, and literature.

In recognition of its quality, the school was awarded collegiate status in 1872 by the Pennsylvania Legislature, and its name was changed to Beaver College and Musical Institute. Five decades later, in 1925, its Board of Trustees saw that the center of commerce, government, and industry was shifting to the east and took the bold step of moving the College to Jenkintown, Pa. Just a few years later, recognizing the school’s potential for growth, trustees purchased the Harrison Estate in Glenside, and Grey Towers Castle has been the institution’s enduring symbol for more than 80 years. In 1972, Beaver College became coeducational. Nearly 30 years later, Beaver College became Arcadia University, having been granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.