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History

  • 1855 New Jersey State Normal School
  • 1908 New Jersey State Normal School at Trenton
  • 1929 New Jersey State Teachers College and State Normal School at Trenton
  • 1937 New Jersey State Teachers College at Trenton
  • 1958 Trenton State College
  • 1996 The College of New Jersey

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) is a highly selective institution that has earned national recognition for its commitment to excellence. TCNJ currently is ranked as one of the 75 “Most Competitive” schools in the nation by Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges, is rated the No. 1 public institution in the northern region of the country by U.S. News & World Report, and is considered a “best buy” in higher education by both Barron’s and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. TCNJ was also awarded, in 2006, a Phi Beta Kappa chapter, an honor shared by less than 10 percent of colleges and universities nationally.

The College of New Jersey’s academic tradition reaches back to 1855 when it was established by the state legislature as the New Jersey State Normal School. It was the first teacher training school in the state and the ninth in the nation. Governor Rodman Price, sometimes called the founder of the New Jersey Normal School, promoted the idea of a training institute for New Jersey’s teachers and mobilized support among influential state leaders.

Originally located on Clinton Avenue in Trenton, the Normal School flourished in the latter 1800s, expanding both its academic offerings and physical facilities. In 1925, the first four-year baccalaureate degree program was established. This change marked the beginning of TCNJ’s transition from a normal school to a teachers’ college and was accompanied by a change in physical surroundings. In 1928, a beautiful 210-acre tract of land in Ewing Township was purchased as a new site for the College.

Graduate study was instituted at the College in 1947, and accreditation from various national associations was forthcoming in the 1950s. The enactment of the Higher Education Act of 1966 paved the way for TCNJ to become a multipurpose institution by expanding its degree programs into a variety of fields other than education. By 1972, seventy percent of entering students were selecting non-teaching majors.

In the 1970s, a period of declining enrollments nationwide, the College made a decision to raise, rather than lower, its already high standards. Since that time, the academic profile of entering classes has continued to rise and as a result, the College has become one of the most competitive schools of its kind in the nation.

The College of New Jersey emphasizes the undergraduate experience. A strong liberal arts core forms the foundation for a wealth of degree programs offered through TCNJ’s seven schools—the Arts and Communication; Business; Humanities & Social Sciences; Education; Science; Nursing, Health, and Exercise Science; and Engineering. The College is enriched by an honors program and extensive opportunities to study abroad, and its award-winning First-Year Experience and freshman orientation programs have helped make its retention and graduation rates among the highest in the country.

Today the College provides academically prepared students with a challenging undergraduate education and a rewarding residential experience, small classes, and a prestigious faculty.

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