Immaculata University (IU) is a residential, Catholic, coeducational institution of higher education, founded by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary as Villa Maria College in 1920. Immaculata's origins, however, date from 1906, when the Sisters purchased the present site in Chester County. Ground was broken for Villa Maria Hall in 1908 and, two years later, the massive stone walls were complete.
In 1920, the institution was granted a college charter, making it the first Catholic college for women in the Philadelphia area. In 1929, the name was formally changed to Immaculata College to accommodate government regulations for naming of the post office.
The growth of Immaculata University over the past century has been gradual, yet consistent. The initial 198 campus acres have grown to approximately 373, and the two original dormitory-classroom structures are now part of a complex of 13 principal buildings representing a multi-million dollar investment.
Considered to be the birthplace of modern college women’s basketball, Immaculata is home to the Mighty Macs, who won the first three national women’s college basketball championships in 1972, 1973, and 1974. The team is now the subject of the feature film The Mighty Macs, which opened nationwide on October 21, 2011.
Within the framework of a private Catholic academic institution, all IU students receive education and preparation for positions of leadership and responsibility. In September 1969, Immaculata introduced an evening division program of continuing education for both men and women in response to the needs of the local community. In recognition of the growing number of non-traditional-age women, a continuing education office was opened in 1974 to provide special services for this population.
Three years later, in September 1977, Immaculata initiated a master's degree program in bicultural/bilingual studies in cooperation with Marywood College. In July 1983, three graduate programs were inaugurated, addressing the need for graduate education among adult students interested in part-time or full-time study in psychology, nutrition education, and educational leadership and administration.
In 1991, the bilingual/bicultural master's program was integrated into the Immaculata Graduate Division, together with the addition of music therapy on the master's level, and doctoral programs in clinical psychology and educational leadership and administration.
Immaculata received final approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the doctoral degree program in clinical psychology in 1994 and, in 1997, for the doctoral program in educational leadership. In February 1999, Immaculata received approval for a new Master of Arts degree in organization leadership with concentration in organizational effectiveness and applied gerontology. In 2000, the Pennsylvania DOE approved a doctoral degree program in school psychology, and in spring 2004, a Master of Science program in nursing was established.
In 1995, an accelerated undergraduate degree program was established as a model for an innovative mode of delivery for working adults. Following the success of the first accelerated program, 17 additional accelerated programs were gradually introduced.
As a result of its unprecedented growth, Immaculata reshaped its internal structure. In July 2000, Immaculata adopted a three-college organizational structure, comprised of the Women's College, the College of LifeLong Learning, and the College of Graduate Studies. In June 2002, Immaculata College received confirmation of university status and, in August of that year, the college became known as Immaculata University.
In October 2003, after in-depth studies, Immaculata University decided to welcome men into its traditional undergraduate college, beginning fall 2005. The University's three-college structure now includes the College of Undergraduate Studies along with the College of LifeLong Learning and the College of Graduate Studies. Today, Immaculata University offers more than 60 majors, minors and certificate programs, and its distinguished faculty serves a population of more than 4,500 students.