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Wilson College

Wilson College

Wilson College


About Us


Wilson is committed to providing our students and their families with value in a college education. From our first-in-the-nation student loan buyback program to career development and financial literacy training, we’re dedicated to providing an experience


With individualized attention, the latest in technology and equipment, access to the nation’s Capitol and rich traditions, a Wilson education has it all.

Mission and Honor Principle

Wilson College empowers students through an engaged, collaborative, liberal arts education that combines the skills and focused study needed for success in work and life. We are a close, supportive community that develops the mind and character of all students, preparing them to meet the challenges of a global society.


Students enrolled at Wilson College live under an Honor Principle and within a system of shared, community-based governance. The Honor Principle states that:

“In order to provide an atmosphere congenial to the pursuit of a liberating education, government at Wilson College rests on the assumption that every member of the community will act with integrity in all aspects of life. We trust each other to be mature and responsible individuals."

"The cooperative effort of learning and living in which we are all involved proceeds most satisfactorily when the members of the community acknowledge their responsibility to strive to realize their common aim. The soundness of the community depends upon the concern for both individual freedom and the rights and welfare of others; both call for the observance of certain regulations in order to promote this common aim."

"In this spirit, however, we have agreed upon the Joint Regulations of the Faculty and Students, the Residence Regulations, and the Academic and Administrative Regulations. We undertake the responsibility for keeping them just and relevant to the needs of the present community.”

Our Campus

Located in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Wilson College’s campus has gracious lawns, mature trees and rolling hills. The beautiful 300-acre campus is on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district and the Conococheague Creek runs through it.

Six buildings serve as student housing and there are several facilities for athletics and equestrian com­petitions, including three athletic fields (field hockey, soccer and softball), tennis courts and a gymnasium. A dance studio is housed in Lenfest Commons, students also have access to the fitness center. The Penn Hall Equestrian Center has three, 24-stall barns; two indoor arenas and an outdoor arena; cross-country jump course and turn-out fields. The College also provides complete equine-facilitated therapeutic facilities and equipment.

In addition, Wilson College has an organic farm—the heart of the Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies— that allows a wide range of opportunities to learn about approaches to sustainable living. In January 2009, the College opened the new $25 million Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology, the first Gold LEED-certified building in the area.

The Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology

With state-of-the-art classroom, laboratory and research spaces, the Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology represents a vision for the future of the liberal arts and sciences at Wilson College. Flooded with natural light and filled with leading-edge technology and equipment, the building offers spaces that enhance teaching and learning, and the practice of science at the undergraduate level. The building has transformed the campus and is changing the lives of our students and faculty. We invite you to learn more about it on these pages, or visit campus and take a tour. Envision the future of science at Wilson College and join us in this important educational mission.

History and Traditions

Wilson College was founded in 1869 as a college for women, one of the first in the United States. The founders were the Rev. Tryon Edwards and the Rev. James W. Wightman. The Pennsylvania Legislature granted the original charter on March 24, 1869. Sarah Wilson, for whom the College is named, provided the initial gift for the establishment of the College. She was the first living woman in the United States to endow a college for women.

The purpose of the college was described as an effort to provide for the education of young women in literature, science and the arts. The Oct. 19, 1870, edition of the Franklin Repository stated that the "effort will not be to cram the minds of pupils with facts, but to spend the time in development of thought so that the pupils will learn to think for themselves, and thus become leaders, instead of followers, in society."


Wilson College was founded in 1869 as a college for women, one of the first in the United States. The founders were the Rev. Tryon Edwards and the Rev. James W. Wightman, pastors of Presbyterian churches in nearby Hagerstown, Md., and Greencastle, Pa. They submitted plans to the Presbytery of Carlisle and received its endorsement in April 1868. The Pennsylvania Legislature granted the original charter on March 24, 1869. Miss Sarah Wilson (1795-1871), a resident of nearby St. Thomas, provided two generous donations for the establishment of the new institution. Although Wilson herself had no formal education, she recognized the importance of education for future generations of women. In gratitude for Wilson's gifts, the Trustees voted to name the new institution in her honor. Instruction at the College began on Oct. 12, 1870, after the Trustees had secured the purchase of property formerly owned by Col. A.K. McClure, a close friend and adviser of President Abraham Lincoln.

Since its inception, the College has fostered rigorous intellectual pursuits. Like other women’s colleges, Wilson has long provided opportunities for women to study and teach subjects once thought beyond women’s capabilities, such as chemistry, biology, mathematics and classical languages. President Anna J. McKeag, Wilson’s first woman president (1911-15), strengthened the College’s academic standards. The College has continued to build upon this foundation by increasing the number and kinds of course offerings, improving library resources and bringing distinguished visitors and lecturers to campus. A measure of the College’s intellectual strength is the establishment in 1950 of a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.

Since 1931, the College has recognized outstanding contributions to society by awarding honorary degrees. Recipients have included U.S. Rep. Margaret Chase Smith, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, anthropologist Margaret Mead, musician Lili Krause, author and activist Rita Mae Brown, and news anchor Walter Cronkite.

Throughout its long history, Wilson has responded to changing times. In 1982, the College was one of the first in the region to begin offering a continuing studies program to meet the needs of a growing population of adults seeking a post-secondary education. In 1996, the College was one of the first in the nation to offer on-campus, residential education for single mothers with children. Since the program began, it has won national attention and Wilson has become the National Center for Single Mothers in Higher Education.

Today, Wilson admits men and women of all ages to enroll in its bachelor's and associate degree programs, as well as post-baccalaureate and graduate programs. To make a Wilson education available to adults, many courses are offered not only during the day, but in the evening, in summer and January Term, and at convenient off-campus sites.

Wilson Traditions

Traditions are an important part of every student’s Wilson experience. From Bigs and Littles to Sophomore Buddies, traditions bring our students together and make them part of a supportive, connected community.

Wilson at a Glance

See how the numbers add up to a complete college experience.


The Fulton Center for Sustainability Studies connects students and the local community, featuring a working farm, national CSA database and peaceful walking trails.


Our Penn Hall Equestrian Center has indoor and outdoor riding arenas, a cross-country jump complex and 20 acres of fenced paddocks and pastures.


our investment in the Harry R. Brooks Complex for Science, Mathematics and Technology


  • Chambersburg

    1015 Philadelphia Ave, 17201, Chambersburg