The rich history of single-sex colleges in the United States dates back to the origins of U.S. higher education. Although single-sex education began as the only possibility for college students—first for men and later for women as well—today single-sex colleges exist as an option selected by less than 1% of college students nationwide. As described in this entry, the history of single-sex colleges traces the evolution of higher education and society in the United States during the past 4 centuries.

Historical Origins of Single-Sex Colleges

Beginning with the founding of Harvard College in 1636, all of the earliest colleges in the United States were designed to serve men. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, colleges were established to train clergymen from elite sectors of society, with the ...

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