Timothy Peck 5 min read Applying to College, College Lists

The Last All-Male Colleges in the U.S.

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Public or private? Urban or suburban? Large student body or small student body? These are just some of the questions college-bound students must ask themselves when considering where to pursue a college education. One question that isn’t asked as frequently today as it was in the past is: coeducational or single sex? Over the past few decades, single-sex schools have faded from the collegiate landscape—there are fewer than 40 all-women’s schools today, and only three remaining non-religious all-men’s schools, plus two all-men’s schools with religious affiliations. 

 

The History of Single-Sex Education 

 

In the United States, college was long the domain of men; exactly 200 years passed between the founding of Harvard University in 1636 and the founding of the Georgia Female College (now called Wesleyan), the first school chartered from its inception as a full college for women. Just two years prior, in 1834, Oberlin College became the first institution of higher education to admit women. 

 

It was at this time that the doors to higher education began to open to women, with the founding of more women’s-only colleges, and more colleges becoming coeducational. In 1837, Mount Holyoke Female Seminary (now Mount Holyoke College) was founded—the first of the Seven Sisters, a group of seven historically all-women’s colleges. And in 1855, the University of Iowa became the first coeducational public university.

 

As time passed, more and more schools embraced the idea of coeducation. By 1981, 92% of US colleges and universities were coed, with just 3% of schools all-men and 5% all-women. However, some schools were slow to adapt, notably many of the nation’s most prestigious schools. Ivy League schools like Princeton, Dartmouth, and Brown didn’t become coeducational until the late 1960s/early 1970s, while it took Harvard’s 1977 merger with Radcliffe College to go coeducational. Columbia was the last Ivy League institution to begin admitting women, only going coed in 1983.  

 

Even later to become coeducational was the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), which didn’t admit its first female cadet until the US Supreme Court intervened in 1997. Women’s acceptance at VMI has more that doubled in a little over 20 years, going from the 30-women inaugural class to 63 women matriculating in 2017.  

 

The decision of pursuing a single-sex education or coeducation has even proven difficult for colleges and universities to answer. For example, Connecticut’s Wesleyan University has shifted its position on this three times: admitting women beginning in 1872, closing its doors to them in 1912, and going coeducational again in 1972. Even Wabash, one of the few remaining all-male schools in the US, has struggled with the issue. Although the school has remained male only, in 1992, almost two-thirds of the Wabash faculty had voted to become coed.

 

Why Are There So Few All-Male Colleges in the US?

 

There are a handful of reasons why there are so few all-male colleges in the US, but the most notable one is economics. Today, women compose a larger percentage of undergraduate students; since the 1981-82 academic year, women have received more bachelor’s degrees than men. Currently, women receive 57% of the bachelor degrees awarded by US colleges and universities. It simply doesn’t make financial sense for many schools to close themselves off from more than half of their potential student body. 

 

In addition to the financial benefits of coeducation, the other reason for the disappearance of all-male schools was cultural. Many colleges and universities began valuing their campuses as places where people from different ethnicities, religions, financial means, etc. come together to share ideas and learn from one another—and being a coeducational institution reinforced those values. 

 

The country’s more progressive values also played a role in the diminishing number of all-male schools; as Andrea Hamilton notes in her book A Vision for Girls: Gender, Education, and the Bryn Mawr School, “From the perspective of reformers, the remaining male-only institutions were bastions of male privilege and power. Securing women’s access to those prestigious colleges and universities was crucial to women’s ability to enter the powerful networks that extended from collegiate years into business, professional, and political circles.” 

 

The Value of an All-Male Education 

 

In spite of shifting values and ideals, many believe that not only is there a place for men’s-only colleges, but that there is an increasing need for them as men fall behind women academically. A 2011 report on the gender gap in education by NBC news noted that women dominate high school honor rolls and make up more than 70% of class valedictorians. The report also notes that between 2001 and 2011, two million more women than men graduated from college in the United States. 

 

All-male colleges offer some men the opportunity to attend an institution that may be personally and intellectually right for them. More importantly, they can help bridge some of the challenges facing today’s male students. For example, the all-male Hampden-Sydney College has a 9% higher graduation rate than the national average for men.

 

If single-sex college is interesting to you, keep reading to learn about the nation’s five remaining all-male schools. 

 

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Non-Religious All-Men’s Colleges

 

Hampden-Sydney College

Location: Hampden-Sydney, Virginia

Enrollment: 1,072

U.S. News Ranking: #111 in National Liberal Arts Colleges

Acceptance Rate: 59%

 

The plaque on the front gate of Hampden-Sydney College reads, “Come here as youths so that you may leave as men,” and that’s just what it has been doing for over 200 years. Founded in 1775—Patrick Henry and James Madison among its early Trustees—Hampden-Sydney is the tenth oldest college in the United States. Hampden-Sydney has been ranked by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top 10 schools in the U.S. for career preparation. Greek life plays an important role in the life of Hampden-Sydney students; roughly half of the students join fraternities, and the college boasts 10 nationally chartered frats on campus. 

 

Morehouse College

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Enrollment: 2,206

U.S. News Ranking: #154 in National Liberal Arts Colleges

Acceptance Rate: 58%

 

Morehouse College is the nation’s only four year-liberal arts institution that is both historically black and all male. It is notable for its six-year graduation rate, which is often 20% higher than the national average for black men. Morehouse is a member of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, a partnership between Morehouse, Clark Atlanta University, and Spelman College. The bond between all-male Morehouse and all-female Spelman is especially strong, with students of both universities often taking classes and gathering for social activities together. 

 

Wabash College

Location: Crawfordsville, Indiana 

Enrollment: 882

U.S. News Ranking: #53 in National Liberal Arts Colleges

Acceptance Rate: 65%

 

Sports play a big role on the campus of Wabash College: nearly 40% of the student body participates in varsity sports for the school’s “Little Giants,” while 80% plays intramural or club sports. Additionally, Wabash is part of one of college football’s best rivalries—every year they compete against DePauw University for possession of the Monon Bell, a 300-pound locomotive bell. It’s not all fun and games at Wabash, though; the school is known for its academic vigor—between 25% and 30% of the school’s graduates enroll in graduate and professional schools upon receiving their degree. 

 

Religious All-Men’s Colleges

 

St. John’s University

Location: Collegeville, Minnesota 

Enrollment: 1,667

U.S. News Ranking: #97 in National Universities

Acceptance Rate: 80%

 

St. John’s University (all-male) and its sister school the College of St. Benedictine (all-female) have formed a unique partnership to provide young men and women with a single-sex, liberal arts education grounded in Catholic and Benedictine values and tradition. Thanks to the partnership between the two schools, students are able to attend classes and participate in activities together, along with having access to the resources of both campuses—providing the resources of a large institution while also offering the individual attention and community of a small college.

 

Yeshiva College (Part of Yeshiva University)

Location: New York City, New York 

Enrollment: 2,682

U.S. News Ranking: #92 in National Liberal Arts Colleges

Acceptance Rate: 60%

 

Yeshiva College is an all-male college within Yeshiva University. Also within the university, there is the Stern College for Women and Syms School of Business. The premier Jewish institution of higher education in the US, Yeshiva University provides students with a comprehensive education through its dual curriculum, under which students pursue Jewish studies along with a full program of liberal arts, sciences, and business classes. Along with the college’s New York City campuses, it also has a campus in Israel, where it sends more than 600 students each year to study through its S. Daniel Abraham Israel Program. 

 

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Timothy Peck
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.