Founded in 1795 as the first planned campus in the United States, Union College in Schenectady, NY also stands as the first college chartered by the New York Board of Regents. A piece of American history, its creation after the Revolutionary War placed it as one of the only institutes of higher learning at the time, using two centuries to cultivate a reputation of experiential learning, community involvement, renowned engineering programs, and integrative liberal arts education.
“Ahead of [their] time since” the 18th century, Union College has spend two centuries “defining-and redefining-what it meant to provide liberal arts education”. Traditionally a liberal arts college, it was also one of the first to introduce applied sciences into a higher education curriculum, soon adopting a world-class engineering program, and evolving into what is today a “wide range of disciplines and interdisciplinary programs”. All 40 majors of study here are based in a solid, wide-ranging liberal arts base, leading to a wide range of degree options, including “interdisciplinary programs, interdepartmental majors, and “organizing theme” majors which are designed by students (with faculty approval, of course).
Online courses exists here, as there are nearly 1,000 courses offered in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and engineering, but there are currently no online degree programs offered. As a college of firsts, that may seem odd, but there is a feeling of living history on the 100 acre campus that is vital to their educational process, as well as the stressing of hands-on learning that is essential to a Union education. There are 20 different academic departments peopled by 213 faculty members who are 96% PhDs, responsible for teaching the 2133 students of Union in small classes with a close knit, community learning feel (introductory classes number about 20, upper levels around 11 students per class).
The ten week trimesters are packed full of options for students, from accelerated degree programs allowing you to earn two degrees simultaneously, to independent study and undergraduate research. In addition to the typical Bachelor and Master’s programs, they here offer 7 tracts that provide Bachelor and Master’s degrees within 5 years, utilizing cooperatives with nearby Albany’s Law School and Medical College. Union also has fine programs in the pre-areas (pre-Law, pre-Med, etc).
Research and independent study options encourage an intellectual curiosity in Union students, leading to thesis quality papers and research programs that put what is being taught into the light of reality, giving students on the job training, so to speak. With its proximity to Albany, Montreal, New York City, and Boston, internship opportunities abound, including a congressional D.C. work/study program. Union abroad also features a “range of formal resident-study programs in foreign countries”, with about 60% of students having some international experience.
Also, with the Greek goddess Athena on the seal, it is also no wonder that Union is the birthplace of the modern Greek system of fraternities. Called the “Mother of Fraternities”, what was an all-male school for its first 175 years also saw the rise of the first three major US frats (Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi, and Delta Phi).
An educational history contained in Schenectady, Union has spent centuries finding creative educational programs and majors for students who are looking to study at a school encouraging imagination in education, providing as many resources and possibilities as a student needs to succeed in higher education.