Academic History


  • Became the first liberal arts school to join the Harvard-MIT online learning collaborative edX and the first women's college to offer massive open online courses (MOOCs).
  • Hired the College's first engineering faculty member. 
  • Adopted a shadow-grading policy to begin with students entering in the fall of 2014, in which students will receive a report of the letter grades that they would have received - "shadow grades" - which will appear on their official transcripts only as pass/no pass and will not be released outside the College. Shadow grading will enable first-year students to learn about the standards for academic achievement at Wellesley and assess the quality of their work in relation to these standards, but refocus their attention from grades to intellectual engagement and inspiration. 
  • Jointly hosted an intensive two-week academic program of students and faculty in June in Beijing, China on "Empowering Women in Leadership: Challenges of an Urban Future."
  • Wellesley College implemented the following grant-funded initiatives: Team-taught courses, Public Speaking Intensive Courses in the Writing Program, Visiting Artist Residency, and the Calderwood Seminars in Public Writing. 


  • Decided to offer Portuguese Language collaboration with MIT.
  • Received ACE/Alfred P. Sloan Award for Innovative Faculty Retirement Practices in recognition of best practices in culmination of three stages of faculty careers.
  • Team-Teaching initiative launched for three-year period.
  • Hosted inaugural Women in Public Service Summer Institute as part of the US Department of State initiative.


  • Steering Committee for Evaluating Building Utilization and Renovation Strategies (EBURS) is formed to outline a comprehensive plan for capital improvements.
  • Planning initiatives are underway for the Science Center, Pendleton West, Founders/Green Halls and Fitness/Sports/Wellness program.
  • New position of Associate Provost and Academic Director of Diversity and Inclusion established.
  • Wellesley-Olin-Babson Tri-Campus Sustainability Certificate Program begins.


  • Opening of Madeleine Korbel Albright Institute for Global Affairs 2009/10
  • Appointment of a Director for the Three-College Collaboration to enhance collaborative programming among Wellesley, Olin, and Babson
  • Report of the Academic Planning Committee: approval by Academic Council of a First Year seminar program and pilot offerings of group independent research; reconfiguration of the Curriculum Committee; appointment of Faculty Advisor to the President for International Activities.
  • Change of academic governance structure from Dean of the College to Provost and Dean of the College.


  • NEASC 10-year reaccreditation


  • Certificate in Engineering Studies from Olin College approved


  • First-year distinction eliminated
  • Major in South Asia Studies implemented.
  • American Sign Language (ASL) approved as meeting foreign language requirement.


  • Introduction of Korean language instruction
  • Creative Writing concentration within the English major implemented
  • "Introduction to engineering" course piloted


  • Major in Media Arts and Sciences implemented
  • Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures created
  • New grading policy goes into effect


  • Resolution on new grading policy adopted


  • Introduction of Arabic language instruction
  • Cross-registration with Olin College of Engineering begins in the spring.


  • First Tanner Conference: students and alumnae report on off-campus internships


  • Vienna exchange program begins, Konstanz exchange program ends
  • Development of online courses for distance learning in collaboration with Global Education Network


  • Study abroad program in Bologna started as part of the Eastern College Consortium (Vassar, Wellesley, Wesleyan)
  • New class schedule goes into effect creating "community time"


  • Summer school offered for the first time


  • Knapp Media and Technology Center opens
  • Exchange program with the Ewha Womans University, Korea, begins


  • First Ruhlman Conference for student presentations to the college community
  • Exchange program with the Universidad de San Adres, Argentina, begins
  • Wellesley-in-Mexico program begins.
  • Revision of multicultural requirement
  • INCIPIT ended
  • Revised standard for Latin Honors


  • Curriculum Review completed (started in 1993/94)
  • Introduction of half-unit courses
  • Revision of Distribution Requirements
  • INCIPIT (a team-taught course) begins


  • Study abroad program in Japan (Doshisha Univ.) started as part of the Associated Kyoto Program (AKP) which consists of a consortium of 16 U.S. institutions.
  • Exchange programs with the Univ. of Manchester and the Lancaster Univ. in Great Britain begin
  • First-Year Cluster Program ended


  • Review of the curriculum initiated (completed in 1995/96)
  • January program in Mexico begins in the winter of 1994; ends January 1998.


  • Learning and Teaching Center opens


  • CE Program named Elizabeth Davis Degree Program
  • First-Year Cluster Program begins


  • Multicultural requirement initiated
  • 10-Year reaccredidation of College


  • Summer Enrichment program for First-Year students begins
  • Interdisciplinary First-Year Cluster program for First-Year students ends


  • Four-course teaching load implemented


  • Academic minor begins


  • Wellesley's Association with the Middlebury College program in Russia begins


  • Interdisciplinary First-Year Cluster program for First-Year students begins
  • Wellesley-Brandeis cross-registration program begins Exchange program with the University of Constance (Konstanz) begins. Ends in 1999/2000.


  • Expository writing requirement for First-Year students reinstated
  • Dual degree program with MIT begins
  • Study abroad program in Aix, France begins


  • Academic Council voted to establish academic (Latin) honors, beginning with the Class of 1983: magna cum laude, summa cum laude, cum laude
  • Pinanski prize established to honor fine teaching


  • Wellesley program in Cordoba, Spain begins (PRESHCO: Programa de Estudios Hispanicos en Cordoba)


  • Wellesley-Spelman exchange programs begins


  • Twelve College Exchange program begins
  • Wellesley joins the Intercollegiate Center for Classical Studies (ICCS) in Rome, Italy, and students first enrolled in the 1970 spring semester.
  • Continuing Education program begins


  • ​Cross/registration program with M.I.T. begins; the first of a number of exchange arrangements available to students. 1968
  • Curriculum revised to eliminate required English and Bible courses and the General Exam


  • Graduate program in Hygiene and Physical Education ended


  • Interdepartmental majors first offered


  • Washington Internship program begins (in the 1970's other internship opportunities were added)


  • All students must take a General Exam on their major field of study


  • First junior year abroad (in 1980's Wellesley greatly expands study abroad programs)


  • First master's degree in Hygiene and Physical Education awarded (Last degree awarded in 1953)


  • Honors program begins


  • Graduate level program in Hygiene and Physical Education started. Graduates of the program received a certificate. In 1920 students could work towards a master's degree.


  • Art and Music cease to be schools and become departments


  • Mary Whiton Calkins establishes one of the first psychology laboratories in the nation


  • First master's degrees awarded


  • Preparatory department discontinued


  • First commencement, 18 students graduate


  • Schools of Music and Art open


  • College opens on September 8 with 314 students. The President (Ada Howard) and almost all of the faculty were women.
Click here to learn more about Wellesley College's history.