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The History of Manhattan College

For more than 150 years, Manhattan College has played a vital role in the history of New York and of the country. The Lasallian Catholic legacy of Manhattan College stands for more than three centuries of excellence in education, emphasizing the dignity of the human person and calling each of us to use his or her unique gifts in the service of our fellow human beings, especially those among us who are most vulnerable.

In the Beginning

In May 1853, five Christian Brothers moved their small Canal Street school to what was then known as Manhattanville, a section of New York City at 131st Street and Broadway. The Brothers brought with them more than their furniture and their students. They were the bearers of an educational tradition that began in 17th century France with Saint John Baptist de La Salle, the founder of their order and today acknowledged by the Catholic Church as the Patron Saint of Teachers.

Between 1853 and 1863, the school grew significantly, adding college-level courses in 1859 and first using the name Manhattan College in 1861. It was chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York on April 2, 1863. Manhattan College was an unusual institution compared to its peer institutions at the time. From the beginning, the College sought to combine broad learning in the traditional liberal arts with rigorous technical and pre-professional training.

As the school grew, new quarters were needed. The cornerstone of the “New Manhattan” was laid in 1922 on property bordered by the Hudson River and Van Cortlandt Park, in the Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx, its present location. What was a predominantly Christian Brothers faculty became predominantly lay, including a significant percentage of women. The College became coeducational and accepted its first female undergraduate students in 1973.


Today Manhattan College identifies itself as a Catholic college in the Lasallian tradition. Over the years, Manhattan College has embraced much growth and change, including developing our online graduate programs in the same tradition of combining deep knowledge with practical application of skills. Currently, the College has a student body of approximately 3,500 — 2,900 undergraduates and 600 graduate and continuing education students.

The student-faculty ratio is 12 to 1, ensuring that every student continues to receive the personal attention necessary for their success. Manhattan College is responsive to the needs of its place and time. Innovation grounded in tradition has always been a hallmark of our programs.

At Manhattan College, we are proud to offer a high caliber education that will help our graduates realize exceptional returns on their investment.

If you are interested in learning more about the online graduate programs at Manhattan College, call an Admissions Counselor at 855-841-2843 or request more information.