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What is the Ivy league?

While the term "Ivy League" is sometimes applied, mistakenly, to any distinguished liberal arts college in the United States, the League actually includes only eight schools.  They are:  Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania and Yale University

These eight colleges and universities are among the oldest and most prestigious in the United States, however, the Ivy League itself was first established in 1954 — as an athletics conference, interestingly enough.   The original intent of the Ivy League was to foster success in intercollegiate sports without compromising the schools' self-imposed high academic standards. For years, these schools have allied together in basketball, football, ice hockey, baseball, track and field, swimming and other sports.  

The Ivy League members — all located in the Northeastern US — have an illustrious academic heritage and very high admissions standards.  Five were established in the 18th century, while the US was still a British colony.  Harvard University, the nation's oldest, was founded earlier in 1636, only 16 years after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth.  Cornell University was established later in 1865.

While many other US colleges and universities are just as highly rated and competitive as these well-known academic institutions, the cachet of an Ivy League education can't be denied.  Here are the members:

The Ivy League Members

Brown University (enrollment: 7,490) is a private nondenominational institution in Providence, Rhode Island, a scenic city that has undergone a great deal of historic restoration recently.  Established in 1764, Brown University is the nation's seventh-oldest university.  The school takes pride in the fact that it was the first to welcome students of all religious persuasions.  Today, diversity and intellectual freedom remain important hallmarks of the renowned university.

Undergraduates — about 80 percent of the student body — can select from more than 80 majors.  The school also offers 38 masters-level programs and 34 Ph.D. programs.   The School of Medicine is one of the nation's youngest medicine schools.  However, it has gained national recognition for its family medicine and primary care expertise.  A central feature of the curriculum is its unique commitment to integrating medical studies and the liberal arts.  In fiscal year 1999, the university faculty attracted $81 million in government and private funding to perform research.

Columbia University (enrollment: 18,617) was founded in 1754 as King's College by a royal charter of King George II of England.  It is the nation's fifth oldest university, and is located in New York City.  During the American Revolutionary War, classes were suspended for eight years.  When the school reopened in 1784 it had a new name — Columbia — that embodied the emerging nation's patriotic fervor.

The university has 16 active Faculties and 70 active academic departments.  Columbia College, the oldest part of the university, offers Bachelor of Arts degrees in 65 subjects.  The Graduate School of Journalism, founded by Joseph Pulitzer, is the nation's oldest and is very highly regarded.  The Faculty of Medicine was the first to offer the Doctor of Medicine in North America.  And the new Morris A. Schapiro Center for Engineering and Physical Science Research is expected to enhance Columbia's leadership position in telecommunications and high tech research. 

Cornell University (enrollment: 19,000) is located in Ithaca,  New York, although two of its medical graduate and professional programs are in New York City.  Established in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university is a private endowed university and the federal land-grant institution of New York State.  It is also a partner of the State University of New York. 

Undergraduates can select from seven colleges and schools, ranging from architecture to engineering. Cornell awarded the nation's first university degree in veterinary medicine and the first doctorates in electrical engineering and industrial engineering.  It also established the first four-year schools of hotel administration and industrial and labor relations in the country.  Twenty-seven Nobel laureates have been affiliated with Cornell as faculty members or students.  The university ranked first in funds allocated by the National Science Foundation for programs in academic science and engineering in 1996-97 (the most recent data available).

Dartmouth College (enrollment: 5,500) is the nation's ninth-oldest college and was founded in 1769 by Reverend Eleazar Wheelock.  It was the last institution of higher learning established under Colonial rule, and was built on land provided under charter from King George III of England.   The private, four-year college is located in Hanover, New Hampshire.  At the heart of the school is Baker Library, one of the oldest research libraries in the United States.

The liberal arts college has 16 graduate programs in the arts and sciences.  Additionally, it is home to the nation's fourth oldest medical school, the nation's first professional school of engineering and the world's first graduate management school.  The college prides itself on providing a small, intimate learning environment, while at the same time featuring a renowned faculty and curricular breadth found typically at large research universities. Famous alumni include Kanichi Asakawa, the founder of Asian Studies in the United States (1899) and pioneering biologist E.E. Just (1907).

Harvard University (enrollment: 18,000) is the nation's oldest institution of higher learning, and certainly one of the world's most famous.  Established in 1636, Harvard is a coeducational private school located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Six presidents of the United States have graduated from Harvard, and its faculty has produced more than 30 Nobel laureates.

Harvard University is comprised of Harvard and Radcliffe colleges — as well as 10 professional and graduate schools.   The Harvard Law School is the nation's oldest continuously operating law school.  The Kennedy School of Government's 16,000 graduates from more than 120 countries have headed governments on five continents.  And the Harvard Business School was the first to require a college degree for admission to its business program.  The university includes the Dumbarton Oaks Research Center and the Center for Hellenic Studies, both in Washington, D.C., and Villa I Tatti, in Florence, Italy, for Italian Renaissance studies.

Princeton University enrollment: 6,350) was established in 1746 as the College of, New Jersey  by a charter in the name of King George II of England. The private, coeducational, liberal arts institution is located in Princeton, New Jersey.   The fourth college to be established during the Colonial Era, the school played an active role during the Revolutionary War.  The administration building (Nassau Hall) was briefly the seat of the Continental Congress (July to November 1783). The college president at the time, John Witherspoon, was the only ordained clergyman to sign the Declaration of Independence.  Princeton was given its present name in 1896.

Princeton offers undergraduates more than 1,300 courses in 34 departments and numerous certificate programs.  Students may earn a certificate in one area, while majoring in another.   The Graduate School offers programs in the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, architecture, public affairs, and urban and regional planning.  Please note: Graduate work is not offered in business, education, law, medicine or theology. 

University of Pennsylvania enrollment: 21,855) was founded in 1740 by Benjamin Franklin.  This private coeducational institution is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   It was the nation's first school to be designated a university, and many of its graduates played vital roles in the American Revolution.  In fact, eleven signers of the American Constitution were associated with the college.

University of Pennsylvania offers students four undergraduate and twelve graduate schools.  The Wharton School is the world's first collegiate business school, and the School of Medicine is the nation's first medical school. The University Museum has important collections of archaeological (especially Near Eastern, Classical and Egyptian) and ethnological artifacts.  Three of the faculty members are Nobel Prize recipients and two are Pulitzer Prize winners.  Approximately 19 percent of the student population originated from other nations.

Yale University (enrollment: 10,851) was established in 1701 as the Collegiate School.  Its name was later changed to Yale.  The private liberal arts coeducational institution is located in New Haven, Connecticut.  October 2000 marked the start of Yale's yearlong 300th birthday celebration, featuring numerous events, exhibitions, publications and symposia.

Each undergraduate belongs to one of twelve residential colleges, which offers the intimacy of a smaller school with the educational opportunities of a larger university.  Students live and dine and socialize in these colleges.  Yale also features a Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and ten renowned professional schools.  The Yale University School of Medicine is considered a leading center for biomedical research, education and advanced health care.   The university's library system is the world's seventh largest research library, with more than 10 million volumes.

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