Bryn Mawr College

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Bryn Mawr College is a women's liberal-arts college located in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, northwest of Philadelphia. It is one of the Seven Sisters. It has approximately 1,200 undergraduates and 400 graduate students. The name "Bryn Mawr" is Welsh for "high hill". There is also a Bryn Mawr School for girls in grades K-12 in Baltimore, Maryland that was founded in 1885 to help girls prepare for college; the Bryn Mawr School shared some early supporters with the college (one of the founders, M. Carey Thomas, was Bryn Mawr College's first dean), but is otherwise unaffiliated.



Founded in 1885, it was the first woman's institution to offer graduate degrees including the Ph.D. The first class included 36 undergraduate women and eight graduate students. It was originally affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers), but by 1893 had become non-denominational.

In 1912, Bryn Mawr began offering the United States' first doctoral degree in social work through the Graduate Department of Social Economy and Social Research. This department became the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research in 1970.

In 1931, Bryn Mawr began accepting males as graduate students, while remaining women-only at the undergraduate level.


Bryn Mawr is a self-governed institution. Its Self-Government Association, formed in 1892, is the oldest such organization in the United States. A significant aspect of self-government is the Academic Honor System, or Honor Code.

Bryn Mawr and Haverford College form the Bi-College community. Students in the Bi-Co enjoy unlimited cross-registration privileges and may choose to major or reside at the other institution. The two institutions join with Swarthmore College to form the Tri-College community. Free shuttles are provided between the three campuses. In addition, the Tri-Co is affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania through the Quaker Consortium. Bryn Mawr students in the Growth and Structure of Cities department may earn a B.A. at Bryn Mawr in conjunction with a Master of City Planning at Penn through the 3-2 Program in City and Regional Planning.


Bryn Mawr's library holdings are housed in the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library (opened in 1970), the Rhys Carpenter Library (opened in 1997), and the Lois and Reginald Collier Science Library (opened in 1993). TRIPOD, the online library catalog, automatically accesses holdings at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges.

The majority of Bryn Mawr students live on campus in residence halls. Many of the older residence halls are known for their Collegiate Gothic architecture -- modeled after Oxford University -- and are named after counties in Wales: Brecon, Denbigh (1891), Merion (1885), and Radnor (1887). The exceptions are Pembroke East and West (1892), named for the House of Pembroke and its importance to Shakespeare. Rhoads (North and South) was named after the College's first president, James E. Rhoads, while Rockefeller was named after its donor, John D. Rockefeller. The newest residence halls are Erdman (opened 1965, designed by architect Louis Kahn) and the Haffner Language and Culture House (opened 1971). In addition, students may choose to live in Glenmede (primarily graduate student housing), Perry House (the Black Cultural Center) or Batten House (environmentally-friendly co-op).


Students at Bryn Mawr are required to complete divisional requirements in the social sciences, natural sciences (including lab skills) and humanities. In addition, they must fulfill a two-year foreign language requirement, a quantitative skills requirement and a College Seminar requirement. The most popular majors at Bryn Mawr in the 2002-03 academic year were Biology, Economics, English, Mathematics, Political Science and Psychology.

Majors Offered

Minors and Concentrations Offered


Bryn Mawr's traditions are a unique aspect of campus life. The four major traditions are Parade Night, which takes place on the first night of the academic year; Lantern Night, which takes place in late October or early November; Hell Week, which takes place in mid-February; and May Day, which takes place on the Sunday after classes end in the spring semester. The traditions mistresses of the College, two positions elected by the student body, are in charge or organizing and running traditions. In addition to events, Bryn Mawr's traditions extend to superstitions around the campus, such as Senior Steps, Senior Row, the Moon Bench, Rockefeller Arch, and the poles under the Pembrook Arch. Another important part of the traditions is the statue of the goddess Athena, the patron goddess of the College, in Thomas Great Hall. Students leave gifts and notes for the statue when they desire help from the goddess.

College Presidents

Notable Faculty

Notable Alumnae

External links


Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz, The Power and Passion of M. Carey Thomas. New York: Knopf,1994.

Seven Sisters Colleges
Barnard | Bryn Mawr | Mount Holyoke | Radcliffe | Smith | Vassar | Wellesley

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