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A Look at 7 of the Newest U.S. Colleges and Universities

These nonprofit schools – both two-year and four-year – opened their doors less than 25 years ago.

A Look at 7 of the Newest U.S. Colleges and Universities


Newly established colleges and universities

Many college campuses across the country are full of rich history, with some students walking the same halls or brick pathways that former presidents and other historical figures did decades before them. However, not all colleges are centuries old. Some are just getting started and working to build up their academic programs. Here's a look at seven colleges and universities that were established less than 25 years ago. This list does not include for-profit institutions – which commonly pop up without any formal accreditation – or fully online schools.

Ave Maria University (FL)

Established in 2003, Ave Maria University in Florida became the most recent Catholic university to open since 1963, according to its website. Rooted in Catholic values and traditions, this private school offers many faith-based disciplines, such as marriage and family studies, classics and early Christian literature, Catholic studies, catechetics and theology. There are other options for nonreligious areas of study, like marine biology, medieval studies, mathematics and politics, plus three master's degree options and a Ph.D. program in theology. Since living in community is part of AMU's core mission, about 90% of students live on campus.

College of the Muscogee Nation (OK)

Established in 2004, the College of the Muscogee Nation is recognized by the American Indian Higher Education Consortium as one of 35 tribal colleges and universities in the U.S. These schools are charted by federally recognized Indian tribes or the federal government and have majority Native American or Alaska Native enrollment. This Oklahoma-based community college, which is open to both tribal and nontribal citizens, offers six associate degrees and four certificates in fields such as Native American studies, gaming, tribal services, criminal justice, natural resources and Mvskoke language studies. On campus, "all are free to speak Native languages, share culture and participate in traditions," according to the school's website.

Florida Polytechnic University

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Florida Polytechnic University focus entirely on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, disciplines. Established in 2012 and officially open for instruction two years later, Florida Poly now enrolls more than 1,500 students, with the majority hailing from 55 counties in the state. STEM is also ingrained in the public university's campus traditions, which include an annual math competition, game expo, a 3.14-mile run to celebrate Pi Day in March and a capstone design showcase for seniors. More than 35 clubs and organizations on campus range from Nerf competitions to a Pokémon league.

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (MA)

Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering's inaugural class of 75 students started in 2002. A year prior, newly hired faculty members worked alongside student partners to develop curriculum and campus life programming at the private Massachusetts college. Although Olin is an engineering school, the curriculum – which is hands-on, project-based and addresses real-world challenges – "combines technical and engineering education with a strong emphasis on the arts, humanities, social sciences and entrepreneurship," according to its website. Several types of engineering degrees are offered, including electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering and general engineering, on top of several concentrations.

Georgia Gwinnett College

Georgia Gwinnett College opened its doors in 2006, becoming the first four-year college founded in the state in more than 100 years, according to its website. Since then, the college has grown from about 100 students to more than 11,600. However, the average class size is 19. The 261-acre school offers 21 majors, ranging from cinema and media arts production to political science, as well as three online programs of study and a cybersecurity certificate program. Students also can choose from more than 100 clubs and six intercollegiate athletic teams, like softball, soccer, baseball and tennis. GGC is part of the University System of Georgia.

Nevada State University

Located at the foot of Mount Scorpion and 15 miles from the Las Vegas Strip, Nevada State College was established in 1999 and officially opened in 2002 with 177 students. Two decades later, the 511-acre public institution – which recently announced a name change to Nevada State University – is now serving thousands of students. Given its nearness to recreational areas, the school launched the Outdoor Adventure Series in 2019 to provide students with guidance and information about the outdoors. Events often include hiking, caving, camping and kayaking. This is in addition to more than 20 clubs and organizations on campus. Students also have numerous majors and minors to choose from, like Deaf studies, human health sciences, visual media, criminal justice and nursing.

University of California, Merced

After opening in 2005, the University of California, Merced became the University of California system's newest campus. Given its proximity to Yosemite National Park, UC Merced offers several wilderness-related clubs, like the Yosemite leadership program and outdoor social society, on top of 200 other organizations. UC Merced is the only campus to have a research station in the park, according to its website. This public research university, located in the increasingly populous San Joaquin Valley, is home to seven special research institutes and centers. Research is conducted in multiple subject areas, such as solar energy, climate change, bacterial diseases, cancer and diabetes.

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