Founded in 1871, West Chester University of Pennsylvania is one of the largest institutions of the 14 in the state’s higher education system. It is situated in West Chester, 25 miles west of Philadelphia, by far the state’s largest city.
West Chester’s campus comprises more than 400 acres, making it one of the largest in Pennsylvania. Many of the university's students live on campus, including a very high proportion of first-years.
Also within 100 miles of four other states, the university is 15 miles from Wilmington, Delaware’s largest city, 80 miles north east of Baltimore, Maryland’s biggest city and port, and 100 miles south east of New York City, the country’s cultural and economic capital.
Originally a teacher training college, the university was known as West Chester State Teachers’ College from 1927 to 1960, when it became West Chester State College and initiated the liberal arts education that continues to be part of its offering to this day. It now runs more than 200 study programmes, nearly half of which are at postgraduate level. The number of distance learning programmes at West Chester has increased notably in recent years.
Alumni include Jill Biden, the second lady of the United States, who studied for a master’s course at the college before becoming a teacher and academic, Pennsylvania rapper Asher Roth, whose hit I Love College references his time at West Chester, and Pat Croce, a former owner of the Philadelphia 76ers basketball team.