History and Development of the University

The institution was founded in 1908 as the State Normal and Industrial School for Women in Fredericksburg. The name was changed in 1924 to the State Teachers College at Fredericksburg, and again in 1938 to Mary Washington College, having transformed over the years to Virginia’s public liberal arts college for women. Then in 1944, Mary Washington College became affiliated with the University of Virginia as its women’s undergraduate arts and sciences division. In 1970 the entire University became coeducational and in 1972, by action of the General Assembly of Virginia, the College became an independent, state-supported institution for women and men, with its own governing board. On July 1, 2004, the General Assembly named the institution University of Mary Washington.

Through an emphasis on quality, the University attracts students from all areas of Virginia, particularly the urban areas of Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Tidewater. Approximately 25 percent of its on-campus resident students are from other states and foreign countries, with the largest population coming from Southern, Middle Atlantic, and New England states.  Located in the middle of a rapidly growing Washington-Richmond “urban corridor,” the University of Mary Washington serves the educational needs of both full-time and part-time students.

To meet the diverse academic goals sought by students in today’s society, the undergraduate curriculum is organized into three colleges – the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Business, and the College of Education.  The various academic departments and disciplines offer more than 30 undergraduate programs. Four undergraduate degrees are awarded: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Liberal Studies, and Bachelor of Professional Studies. Emphasis upon excellence in the pursuit of liberal learning has traditionally been at the core of the University’s educational philosophy, and commitment to this tradition will continue.

University of Mary Washington also awards graduate degrees: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Science in Management Information Systems (MSMIS), a combined MBA-MSMIS degree, Master of Education, and Master of Science in Elementary Education. Details about these degree programs are available in the University’s Graduate Academic Catalog. Because the Master of Science in Elementary Education is a fifth-year program that follows directly from the undergraduate degree, details about it are available in the education section of this Catalog as well.

As the University evaluates its offerings, it will build upon its high-quality programs and propose curricular additions and adjustments specifically designed to meet new and increased demands.