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The History of the College of Mount Saint Vincent

The College of Mount Saint Vincent was first founded as the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent by the Sisters of Charity of New York in 1847.  In the decades before colleges and universities were open to women, the Academy offered higher education for women, and its graduates, including many Sisters of Charity, went on to careers of extraordinary achievement and service. 

The Academy and the Motherhouse of the Sisters of Charity were built on an upper Fifth Avenue tract that is now part of Central Park. After New York City announced plans to enlarge Central Park in 1855, the Sisters of Charity purchased Fonthill, the estate overlooking the Hudson River in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.  Fonthill Castle, built by Shakespearean actor Edwin Forrest, still stands on campus and houses the offices of Admissions and Financial Aid.

As educational opportunities expanded for women, the Academy continued to evolve and, in 1910, began to serve as a four-year liberal arts college.  In 1911, the Regents of the University of the State of New York amended the charter of the Academy of Mount Saint Vincent, changing its corporate name to the College of Mount Saint Vincent and permitting it to confer baccalaureate degrees.  Mount Saint Vincent was the first women’s college in New York City. Its programs became coeducational in 1974.
Today, the College of Mount Saint Vincent continues to uphold the mission entrusted to it by the Sisters of Charity.  Inspired by the spirit of Saint Vincent de Paul and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, deeply rooted in the Catholic tradition, and authentically ecumenical, the College prepares students for lives of professional accomplishment and service. 

At the Mount, we are dedicated to the education of the whole person.  The College is intimate enough that we know our students by name.  We are diverse enough to live with a democratic pride, resourcefulness, and fearlessness that few other institutions can claim.  We are interconnected enough to know that across academic programs, a Mount education extends beyond grades, honors, and jobs to an understanding of human dignity and a conviction about our obligations to each other that transcend age, race, religion, wealth, gender, and ethnicity. 

Our Undergraduate College offers a strong core curriculum and rich B.A. and B.S. programs in more than 40 majors and minors. 

The School or Professional and Continuing Studies offers excellent certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs tailored to meet the needs of part-time and adult students.