Rutgers is the only university in the nation that is a colonial college, a land-grant institution, and a leading public research university. It is the nation’s eighth oldest institution of higher learning—one of only nine colonial colleges established before the American Revolution—and has a centuries-old tradition of rising to the challenges of each new generation.
Chartered in 1766 as all-male Queen’s College in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the school was renamed Rutgers College in 1825 in honor of trustee and Revolutionary War veteran Colonel Henry Rutgers.
In the mid-19th century, Congress established the nation’s land-grant colleges in response to the Industrial Revolution. In 1864, Rutgers prevailed over Princeton to become New Jersey’s land-grant institution, tasked with offering educational access to a wider range of students who would be the new workforce for America’s expanding businesses, factories, and farms.
The Modern University
Access for women arrived in 1918, when the New Jersey College for Women (now Douglass Residential College) was founded. In 1945 and 1956, state legislative acts designated Rutgers as The State University of New Jersey, a public institution. The University of Newark (now Rutgers–Newark) joined Rutgers in 1946, followed by the College of South Jersey (now Rutgers–Camden) in 1950, which gave Rutgers a statewide presence.
In 1989, Rutgers was invited to join the Association of American Universities, making Rutgers one of the top 62 research universities in North America. Rutgers’ standing as a leading university reached new heights in 2013 when a state legislative act transferred to Rutgers much of the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, including two medical schools and a dental school.
Today, with more than 65,000 students, Rutgers is one of the most significant and diverse comprehensive research universities in the nation.
Explore Rutgers History
These resources will introduce you to many of Rutgers’ storied people, places, events, and traditions. We’ve been around for more than 240 years, so get busy. There is a lot of history to cover.
Traditions and Historic Sites
Academics with a Rich Past
Discover how some of Rutgers’ outstanding schools, academic departments, and research centers got their start.