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  • Home / Inside Ursuline / History

    History of Ursuline College

    Ursuline College students today inherit the legacy of remarkable, pioneering women who founded the College and championed women's higher education over the course of 150 years.

    Ursuline college old photo of students in the 1940s

    The history of the College is a part of the history of the Ursuline Sisters who came to Cleveland in 1850 from their native France to establish the first religious teaching community in Cleveland.

    Recognizing the special need for an institution of higher education for women, Mother Mary of the Annunciation Beaumont, the first superior of the Cleveland Ursulines and the founder of Ursuline College, obtained a charter from the state of Ohio to establish a college "to confer, on the recommendation of the faculty, such degrees and honors as are conferred by colleges and universities in the United States." Ursuline College thus became one of the first Catholic women's colleges in the United States organized and chartered explicitly for the purpose of college education.

    Ursuline College was also the first chartered Catholic college for women in Ohio. Enrollment was open to the public of all races and creeds who qualified scholastically.

    Over the years, Ursuline College has anticipated the changes in women's careers and developed programs to meet their evolving needs. With a mission rooted in tradition, women are heard and valued at Ursuline College.


    February 8th

    The relocation of the College in 1966 to suburban Pepper Pike culminated a ten-year planning program inaugurated by Mother Marie Sands, OSU, then president of the College. Photo courtesy Ursuline College Archives

    1968 Students In Classroom.jpg


    March 8th

    In 1968, the College was separately incorporated as an independent, non-profit organization with the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland continuing to serve as the institution's religious sponsor. In January, 1969, the Board of Trustees for the College was formed.


    May 4th

    In July, 1975, the Division of Nursing of Saint John College of Cleveland transferred to Ursuline College and became the Ursuline Center for Nursing. Today, it is one of the College's three academic schools: Breen School of Nursing, School of Arts and Sciences, School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

    1975 Nurse Ceremony Audience.jpg


    June 1st

    In 1982, Ursuline College began offering graduate programs with the inauguration of a Master of Arts in Educational Administration. Today, the College also offers graduate study in Counseling and Art Therapy, Education, Historic Preservation, Liberal Studies, Ministry, Business Management and Nursing.

    1982 Student Teacher.jpg


    July 12th

    In 1997 Ursuline College began offering an accelerated nursing degree program for working adults (UCAP). Ursuline College also has accelerated degree programs for students who already have an RN, or a bachelor's degree in something other than nursing, but are interested in earning a BSN degree.

    Late 1990s Comencement.jpg


    September 1st

    In 2010 Ursuline's Breen School of Nursing initiated its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. This program focuses on the development of nurse leaders who use evidence-based practice for optimizing health care delivery through effective systems transformation.