New England Universities & Colleges
When it comes to higher education and university cachet, no other region of the USA matches the draw of New England with its collection of historic and renowned universities, colleges, and even secondary schools. Hundreds of thousands of prospective international students and their families flock to New England each year to tour the schools and make their choice. And if you are simply on vacation, it’s easy to join in — take a tour of picturesque university campus towns and learn about the history of these famous institutions.
In buzzy New Haven, Yale University was founded in 1701, making it the United States’ third oldest university. Take a free student-led tour to hear about famous former students, from actors Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep to five U.S. presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. The University of Connecticut, nicknamed ‘UConn,’ is known as a sporting powerhouse thanks to its outstanding basketball teams. It is also ranked as one of America’s top public research universities. Connecticut’s outstanding small liberal arts colleges include Wesleyan, Trinity and Quinnipiac, home of the nationally renowned Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.
Maine’s record of outstanding higher education stretches back to 1794. Maine’s oldest college is Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, 25 miles from Portland. Among the famous alumni are poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Arctic explorer Robert E. Peary.
Two renowned liberal arts schools have classic New England campuses: Colby and Bates. Located in Waterville, Colby College is the 12th-oldest independent liberal arts college in the country and was recently listed 21st in the 2012 U.S. News Best Liberal Arts Colleges rankings. Bates College, in Lewiston, was founded in 1855 by abolitionists and is the oldest continuously operating coeducational institution in New England. Maine also has a much-celebrated osteopathic medicine school: The University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, just south of Portland in Biddeford.
More international college students flock to schools in the state of Massachusetts than all but three other U.S. states, according to a report by Institute of International Education. Boston University is among the 10 American universities with the highest number of foreign students.
With 50 colleges and 250,000 undergraduates in 50 square miles, Boston really is America’s College Town. The most famous are the two world-class institutions that are neighbors in Cambridge. Harvard, founded in 1636, is the USA’s oldest university; MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) dates back to 1861. Both have excellent free campus tours. And, for a more irreverent look at Harvard, take the Hahvahd Tour, also student-led. Other major Boston-area schools include Brandeis, Boston College, Suffolk University, Northeastern University and Tufts University.
The Pioneer Valley in Western Massachusetts has a strong concentration of higher education institutions, known as the Five Colleges: Smith College in Northampton; Amherst College, Hampshire College and the University of Massachusetts in Amherst; and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley. Here, the colleges make a strong imprint on the community, offering intellectual curiosity, a youthful energy and spirit, and cultural and sporting activities for residents and visitors to the region.
The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (AICUM) consists of 60 degree-granting, accredited independent or private colleges and universities in the Commonwealth.
In the pleasant town of Hanover, on the Connecticut River, Dartmouth College was founded in 1769. That makes it America’s ninth oldest. A member of the elite Ivy League, Dartmouth also has an outstanding medical school. New Hampshire is also home to New England College, whose sports teams are nicknamed the Pilgrims. Of course, New Hampshire has the added temptation for winter sports’ enthusiasts: fabulous skiing and boarding on weekends!
Rhode Island’s institutions of higher education are widely recognized for their prominence in special areas. Another member of the Ivy League is Brown University, founded in 1764, making it the seventh oldest in America. Set in a historic part of Providence, with handsome old buildings, Brown is known for liberal arts, as well as its science, medical, and engineering programs. Other headliners include RISD, the Rhode Island School of Design and Johnson & Wales University, a college of culinary arts and hospitality, with famous alumni such as chefs Emeril Lagasse and Tyler Florence.
The most famous of Vermont’s colleges and universities is Middlebury College, founded in 1800. Its campus is in the charming town of Middlebury; nearby, in the Green Mountains, is its Bread Loaf campus, home to its internationally-known summer School of English. Even older is UVM, the University of Vermont, chartered in 1791 and still thriving in Burlington, one of the countries ‘best’ small cities. Then, there is the New England Culinary Institute, whose student-run restaurants are open to visitors. And, of course, many U.S. Olympic skiers and riders studied in Vermont — and trained on its slopes!