Mission & History

Our Mission

Webster University, a worldwide institution, ensures high quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

Our History

Webster has an extraordinary history that reflects a commitment to serving people who may not otherwise have access to quality education. Also see the Webster University Archives in the Emerson Library.

A century of history – in a flash

  • Founded in 1915: in St. Louis, Missouri, by Sisters of Loretto, a Catholic religious organization, Webster College (originally named Loretto College) was one of the first Catholic women's colleges west of the Mississippi River. It was progressive for its time, providing higher education to women.
  • Expanding the educational experience: Webster became coeducational in 1962 with a limited number of classes available to men.
  • The first master's program: In 1963, Webster College launched evening classes for full-time professionals - a Master of Arts in Teaching program for teaching professionals in full-time employment.
  • A second campus:  In 1966, Webster offered its first courses at a campus in Kansas City, Missouri.
  • A new era of ownership: In 1967, the Sisters of Loretto transferred ownership of the school from the Catholic Church to a lay board of directors—the first in the nation to do so. The lay board remains in place today, operating Webster as a private, nonprofit, non-denominational university.
  • Expertise in serving the military: In 1974, the U.S. Department of Defense invited Webster College to become the first to open an extended campus program at Fort Sheridan near Chicago. The program provided military personnel a convenient location to obtain higher education.
  • Growing nationally: Throughout the 1970s, Webster expanded its locations to metropolitan campuses, corporate sites, and additional military installations.
  • Expanding into Europe: In 1978, Webster opened a campus in Geneva, Switzerland, offering a flexible, American-style education. Soon, other European campuses were added in Vienna, Austria; Leiden, the Netherlands; and London, England; and Athens, Greece.
  • Renamed Webster University: In 1983, the renamed Webster University created five distinct schools and colleges.
  • Online Learning: Webster is a leader in online learning and started offering online courses in 1999. Today, we are known for our robust online and traditional classroom learning opportunities.
  • Growing globally: Webster has locations and partnerships in Shanghai and Beijing, China; Accra, Ghana; Cha-Am/Hua Hin, Thailand; Trier, Germany; Brussels, Belgium; Florence, Italy; and Guadalajara, Mexico. Our locations offer flexibility and help our students better understand the world.

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