Hobart and William Smith Colleges trace their history back to frontier times when the Geneva Academy was opened in the town of Geneva in New York state in 1796. The academy was later to close but was reopened as Geneva College by Bishop Hobart in 1822 with funding from Trinity Church in New York city. The William Smith College for Women was founded in 1908 as a coordinate, non-sectarian women’s college and a department of Hobart College. In 1943 William Smith College was given equal status with Hobart and while each college kept its individuality their new joint identity was encapsulated in the name "The Colleges of the Seneca."
The colleges now operate together as private liberal arts institutions with links to the Episcopal Church. The college offers bachelor’s of arts and science as well as a master’s in teaching. The university offers around 40 majors and 70 minors ranging from LGBT Studies and Critical Social Studies to Anthropology and Political Science. The University’s Undergraduate Summer Research Program has been running since 1987 and gives students the chance to work alongside a faculty research member and gain valuable experience researching in their field.
The colleges’ campus stretches over 170 acres along the shore of Seneca Lake. The grounds are characterised by Jacobean academic buildings and landscaped ground with green lawns running down to the water’s edge and shady trees. The campus includes its very own post office, cafés and performing arts centre and theatre.