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History of Shippensburg University

From the very beginning, we have always been about serving the educational, social, and cultural needs of our students.

Shippensburg University was founded as the Cumberland Valley State Normal School in 1871 and received official recognition and approval by the commonwealth on February 21, 1873. Two months later, on April 15, we admitted our first class of 217 students from south-central Pennsylvania. Seeing greater potential for the school, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania purchased it in 1917. Over the next few decades, great strides were made.

On November 12, 1982, the governor of the Commonwealth signed Senate Bill 506, establishing the State System of Higher Education. Shippensburg State College was designated Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, effective July 1, 1983.

the first 150 years


On June 4, 1926, we were authorized to grant Bachelor of Science degrees in elementary and junior high education to our graduates. Our program was so successful, and our graduates contributed so much to the learning experience of elementary and junior high students, that we became the first normal school in Pennsylvania to be chartered as a state teachers college. We received our charter October 12, 1926. On June 3, 1927, the State Council of Education authorized the school to change its name to the State Teachers College at Shippensburg.

Just two years after the Commonwealth approved our business education curriculum on December 3, 1937, we became the first teachers college in Pennsylvania - and only the fourth in the United States - to be accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, on December 8, 1939.

When Shippensburg entered the Space Age, we rocketed toward many changes.

Beginning on January 7, 1959, the State Council of Education approved graduate work leading to the Master of Education degree. As in the twenties, a name change wasn't too far behind. We were authorized as Shippensburg State College on January 8, 1960. The State Council of Education authorized our arts and sciences curriculum on April 18, 1962, and the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree program was initiated on September 1, 1967.

On November 12, 1982, the governor signed Senate Bill 506, establishing the State System of Higher Education. Shippensburg State College was designated as Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania, effective July 1, 1983. But you can call us Ship for short.

Ship today is a comprehensive university offering bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Education and Human Services. Where we first served the educational needs of students from south-central Pennsylvania, we now instruct students from across the entire Commonwealth, 20 states, and 15 countries. We are part of the State System of Higher Education, which is made up of 14 universities throughout Pennsylvania.

Our curricula are organized to enable students to develop their intellectual abilities and to obtain professional training in a variety of fields. The foundation of the undergraduate curriculum is a required core of courses in the arts and sciences. These courses prepare students to think logically, read critically, write clearly, and verbalize ideas in a succinct and articulate manner. They also broaden students' knowledge of the world, both its past and present.

Ship's primary commitment is to student learning and personal development through effective and innovative teaching and a wide variety of high-quality, out-of-class experiences. Our ultimate goal is to have students fully develop their intellectual, personal, and social capabilities to perform as competent citizens prepared to embark on a career immediately upon graduation or after advanced study.

We are also committed to public service and community-centered in its relationships with the region. Ship works closely and collaboratively with other organizations at institutional, programmatic, and individual levels to develop common goals, share resources, and invest cooperatively in the future of south-central Pennsylvania.

Ship has helped generations of students become successful and we have greatly contributed to the region's success as well.

While we will continue to sustain and enhance our high-quality education for students, we will also maintain and develop programs and services for citizens, businesses, industries, schools, and governments in the Cumberland Valley and beyond. Overall, our purpose is to help build a better, stronger south-central Pennsylvania - economically and culturally - through people who have the abilities, skills, and values to compete in a technologically evolving world.

Our history is just beginning.