by Emily Brehe

March is Women’s History Month, and it’s an important time to look back on and see how far we’ve come, especially in the realm of education.

Over the last 100 years, the American woman’s experience has changed drastically. She obtained the right to vote. She entered the workforce. She went to law school and medical school. She ran for president.

But would she have accomplished these things if her education hadn’t given her a foundation?

Before major U.S. colleges and universities opened their doors to women, there were women’s colleges. In this post, we explain the history of women’s colleges and why your student may consider attending one.

What are women’s colleges?

Women’s colleges are schools that consist of an all-female or predominantly-female student body. Many of these schools are often liberal arts colleges.

During the mid to late 1800s, many of these schools were founded to meet an increasing need for women’s secondary and higher education in the United States.

At the time, only a handful of colleges and universities admitted women. Thus, these separate schools began to strengthen female students’ understanding of core academic concepts.

As time progressed, some of these schools eventually offered undergraduate degrees and later became colleges.

Can men attend women’s colleges?

It depends on the college. There are some colleges that only accept women. Some also admit transgender students who identify as female. Some accept men for select graduate programs. Others allow a limited number of men per each undergraduate class.

Other colleges, like Texas Woman’s University in Denton, TX, have moved to co-ed. Although the school does not turn away students based on gender, its student body remains predominantly female.

Why do women’s colleges exist?

For centuries in the United States, women’s education was not considered a priority. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many believed that a woman’s role was in the home, not at work.

As gender roles shifted, more and more women sought a robust education that would help them become artists, scientists, inventors, innovators, and more.

While the glass ceiling began to crack over time, women still faced barriers while pursuing education. Many graduate programs still turned female students away. It wasn’t until 1950 that Harvard Law accepted its first female student.

Women’s colleges served as places where women could break through the barriers set before them. They could obtain undergraduate and graduate degrees that would expand their minds and lead them to more opportunity.

Many notable alumni graduated from women’s colleges, including Martha Stewart, Catherine Hepburn, Joan Rivers, Twyla Tharp, Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, Sylvia Plath, and many more.

Are women’s colleges still relevant?

Over the last 50 years, the number of women’s colleges in the United States has steadily declined. This is mostly due to the fact that the majority of colleges and universities have opened their doors to women. Some women’s colleges have merged with other schools.

However, women’s colleges are still places where some students thrive.

Why go to a women’s college?

Despite their rich history, unique programs, and thriving student life, women’s colleges are often overlooked during the college admissions process.

If you like the reputation of a women’s college and think you will see yourself grow there, consider going on a college visit to learn more about the school.

If you are a woman and think you will benefit from an environment that consists of mostly women, then add a reputable women’s university to your college list.

You might find your perfect fit! The key is to not let misconceptions guide your path. Instead, do your research, and if you can’t find the answer online, call the college’s admissions office.

List of Women’s Colleges in Texas

1. Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman’s University was founded in 1901. It is located in Denton, Texas.

About 88 percent of its student body is female.

Learn more about Texas Woman’s University.

2. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor is one of the oldest colleges in the state of Texas. The school was founded when the women’s section of the Texas Baptist Education Society branched off to create its own college in Belton, Texas. In 1971, the school went co-ed.

The student body is about 65 percent female.

Learn more about the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

3. Our Lady of the Lake University

Our Lady of the Lake is a Catholic college that originally served as an all-girls high school. The school started offering bachelor’s degrees in 1912. In 1969, the college began accepting men to all programs.

In Fall 2019, about 68 percent of the student body was female.

Learn more about Our Lady of the Lake University.

4. University of the Incarnate Word

The University of the Incarnate Word is the largest Catholic university in the state of Texas. Founded in 1881, the school originally served as a women’s college. In 1970, the university became co-educational.

About 60 percent of the students at UIW are female.

Learn more about the University of the Incarnate Word.

Need help choosing a college?

We offer college counseling programs to help you find your perfect fit. To set up a meeting with a college counselor, contact a campus near you.

Emily Brehe is a marketing specialist at KD College Prep.