About the University

Introducing West Chester University

West Chester University, a member of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, is a public, comprehensive institution committed to providing high-quality undergraduate education, selected post-baccalaureate and graduate programs, and a variety of educational and cultural resources for its students, alumni, and the citizens of southeastern Pennsylvania.

The University offers more than 118 undergraduate, 80+ graduate programs and 4 doctoral programs in more than 50 fields of study. See Programs at West Chester for a complete listing of degree programs. Undergraduates are encouraged to participate in experiential learning opportunities, which range from internships to collaborative research with faculty members. Several years ago, WCU launched a Summer Undergraduate Research Institute that offers even more undergraduates the chance to pursue significant research. Service learning is an integral component of many courses at West Chester and the keystone of the Honors College.

Currently, more than 17,700 undergraduate and graduate students are enrolled at West Chester University. WCU is one of the most sought-after universities in the mid-Atlantic region. We received more than 13,500 applications for the fall 2020 first year class, which was comprised of  2,777 students. We are the largest state-owned university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the premier state institution in such key measures as retention and graduation rates. On average, our entering students had a high school G.P.A. of 3.35.

The University also offers a variety of programs at its Center City Philadelphia location, including an award-winning RN-to-BSN program in Nursing, a B.S. in Business Management, both a B.S.W. and M.S.W. in Social Work, an M.S. in Criminal Justice, an M.S. in Transformative Education and Social Change, an M.A. in Public Administration, and a Certificate in Urban Education.

History of the University

Although its founding year is 1871, the University can actually trace its roots to West Chester Academy, a private, state-aided school that existed from 1812 to 1869. The academy enjoyed strong support from the Chester County Cabinet of the Natural Sciences. It was recognized as one of Pennsylvania's leading preparatory schools, and its experience in teacher training laid the groundwork for the normal school years that were to follow.

As the state began to take increasing responsibility for public education, the academy was transformed into West Chester Normal School, still privately owned but state certified. The Normal School admitted its first class, consisting of 130 students, on September 25, 1871. In 1913, West Chester became the first of the normal schools to be owned outright by the Commonwealth.

West Chester became West Chester State Teachers College in 1927 when Pennsylvania initiated a four-year program of teacher education. In 1960, when the Commonwealth paved the way for liberal arts programs in its college system, West Chester was renamed West Chester State College. Two years later West Chester introduced the liberal arts program that turned the one-time academy into a comprehensive college.

In recognition of the historic merit of the campus, the West Chester State College Quadrangle Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The buildings included in this historic district are Philips Memorial Building, Ruby Jones Hall, Recitation Hall, and the Old Library. Except for Philips, these buildings are all constructed of native Chester County serpentine stone.

West Chester State achieved another major milestone with passage of the State System of Higher Education bill. West Chester became one of the 14 universities in the State System of Higher Education on July 1, 1983. Along with its new name - West Chester University of Pennsylvania of the State System of Higher Education - the institution acquired a new system of governance and the opportunity to expand its degree programs.

Location of the University

West Chester University is located in West Chester, Pennsylvania, a town that has been the seat of government in Chester County since 1786. Nestled in the heart of Pennsylvania's Brandywine Valley, West Chester is a picturesque community that offers small-town charm with cosmopolitan flair. The Philadelphia Inquirer called it "one of the world's most perfect small towns."

West Chester was settled in the early 18th century, principally by members of the Society of Friends. In the heart of town is its courthouse, a classical Revival building designed in the 1840's by Thomas U. Walter, one of the architects for the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Philadelphia is 25 miles to the east and Wilmington 17 miles to the south, putting the museums, theaters and other cultural and historical resources of both cities in easy reach. Valley Forge, the Brandywine Battlefield, Longwood Gardens and other world-class attractions are nearby. New York and Washington are easily accessible by car or train.

How to Reach West Chester

The Borough of West Chester can be accessed by car and public transportation. Route 3, the West Chester Pike, leads directly into town from Center City Philadelphia. From the Pennsylvania Turnpike, motorists traveling west should take Route 202 south from the Valley Forge Interchange or the E-Z Pass-only exit (#320), while those traveling east can arrive via Route 100 south from the Downingtown Interchange. From the south, Route 202 from Wilmington and Routes 100 and 52 from U.S. Route 1 all lead to West Chester.

Public transportation is available from Philadelphia and other nearby communities.

Information on public transportation and carpooling is available in Sykes Student Union, 610-436-2984.

Communication Directory

Mailing Address West Chester University, West Chester PA 19383
Telephones Dial 610-436 plus number in parentheses. For offices not shown here, call University Information Center: 610-436-1000.
Web www.wcupa.edu
Academic Success Program Academic Success Program, 231 Lawrence Center (3274)
Admissions (Undergraduate) Office of Admissions, Messikomer Hall (3411); 877-315-2165 (toll free); ugadmiss@wcupa.edu
Affirmative Action Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, 114 W. Rosedale Ave (2433)
Billing/Payments/Refunds Office of the Bursar, 25 University Ave, Suite 050 (2552); bursar@wcupa.edu
Bookstore Student Services, Inc., Sykes Student Union, 110 W. Rosedale Ave (2242)
Careers/Placement Twardowski Career Development Center, 225 Lawrence Center (2501); General: cdc@wcupa.edu; Employers: recruit@wcupa.edu
Conference Services Office of Conference Services, 13/15 University Ave (6931); mkurimay@wcupa.edu
Counseling Department of Counseling and Psychological Services, 241 Lawrence Center (2301); wcucc@wcupa.edu
Financial Aid/Work Study Office of Financial Aid, 25 University Ave, Suite 030 (2627); finaid@wcupa.edu
Graduate School & Admssions (Graduate) The Graduate School, McKelvie Hall (2943); gradschool@wcupa.edu & gradadmissions@wcupa.edu
Housing Residence Life and Housing Services, 202 Lawrence Center (3306 or 3307); housing@wcupa.edu
IT Help Desk (Students) ResNet Central, 3 Brandywine Hall (3350, ext. 1); resnet@wcupa.edu;
Non-Degree (Graduate) The Graduate School, McKelvie Hall (2458); gradschool@wcupa.edu
Non-Degree (Undergraduate/Senior Citizens) Office of Admissions, Messikomer Hall (3411); 877-315-2165 (toll free); ugradnondegree@wcupa.edu
Parking Parking Services, Peoples Building (3345)
Police/Campus Security Public Safety Department, Peoples Building (3311)
Pre-Major Advising Exploratory Studies, 222 Lawrence Center (3505); advising@wcupa.edu
Public Relations and Marketing Office of University Communications and Marketing, 13/15 University Ave, 2nd Floor (3383)
Readmission Office of the Registrar, 25 University Ave, Suite 020 (3541); degreecompletion@wcupa.edu
Services for Students with Disabilities Office of Services for Students with Disabilities, 223 Lawrence Center (2564); General: ossd@wcupa.edu; Proctoring Center: ossdpc@wcupa.edu
Student Activities and University Events Office of Student Activities, 236 Sykes Student Union (3037)
Student Services, Inc. Sykes Student Union (2984 or 3360)
Scheduling/Registration Office of the Registrar, 25 University Ave, Suite 020 (3541); registrar@wcupa.edu
Summer Sessions Office of the Registrar, 25 University Ave, Suite 020 (3541); registrar@wcupa.edu
Teacher Certification Certification Office, 302 Recitation Hall (2321)

The Frederick Douglass Institute

The Frederick Douglass Institute at West Chester University is an academic program for advancing multicultural studies across the curriculum and for deepening the intellectual heritage of Frederick Douglass, the former slave, distinguished orator, journalist, author, and statesman. Douglass, who was a frequent visitor to the West Chester area, gave his last public lecture on West Chester's campus on February 1, 1895; an official historical marker has been placed to denote that location. Thirty years earlier, in October 1865, at the inauguration of a Baltimore, Maryland, institute named for him, Douglass said that the mission was "to be a dispenser of knowledge, a radiator of light. In a word, we dedicate this institution to virtue, temperance, truth, liberty, and justice."

At West Chester University, the Douglass Institute is primarily involved in five academic areas:

  1. Conducting research in multiculturalism and on Frederick Douglass
  2. Sponsoring distinguished exhibits and lectures
  3. Establishing opportunities for advanced study for public, private, and college-level teachers
  4. Collaborating with historical societies and other educational and cultural agencies
  5. Promoting literacy programs and enhancing academic preparations of students.

West Chester University's Douglass Institute is recognized as the model for other Pennsylvania campuses and is called collectively the Frederick Douglass Institute of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education.

The activities of the institute take place on and off campus. With undergraduate and graduate students, and West Chester faculty, the institute sponsors seminars and forums on selected topics. The Anna Murray Douglass Circle is a lecture series offering a platform for today's leading intellectuals. Annually in October, the institute sponsors Douglass Days, a festival of educational activities on Douglass and multiculturalism that involves the entire campus and surrounding communities.

For further information, call the Frederick Douglass Institute at 610-436-2766, or e-mail FDouglass@wcupa.edu. The fax number is 610-436-2769.

The Frederick Douglass Society

The Society (formerly known as The Frederick Douglass Society) of West Chester University is a diverse group of predominantly Black and Brown faculty, staff, students, and administrators of West Chester University, who seek to elevate the social consciousness of the campus, and community at large. The organization facilitates the work and service needed to promote an ideal society that encompasses social justice, genuine equity, real reform, the arts, and holistic education. In the spirit of Frederick Douglass' work as an abolitionist, social justice educator, and civil rights leader, The Society and West Chester University are committed to inclusive excellence by promoting empowerment through education, social justice through civic engagement, and the advancement of human rights through thoughtful public dialogue. Society members provide leadership, support, and guidance to the West Chester University community regarding multicultural education, empowerment, and equality. The organization annually raises money for scholarship funds to increase the economic options available to the student body. It also seeks, by the example of Douglass, to promote an intellectual standard that is not only grounded in excellence but profoundly rooted in the public mission of higher education.

Institute for Women

The Institute for Women was initially designated to serve as the parent organization to represent the interests of women on campus. The institute is an independent body headed by the director of the Center for Women and Gender Equity. Along with the Commission on the Status of Women and the Women's and Gender Studies program, the Institute for Women engages in campus activities for the benefit of women students, faculty, and staff.

The institute sponsors activities to enhance the self-esteem and career success of women at the University including the Graduate Grant, Endowed Book Funds, and support for campus programs. The institute prepares periodic reports on the status of women at the University and has also secured Charlotte W. Newcombe Scholarship Grants for mature or second-career women for more than 25 years. For more information contact Alicia Hahn-Murphy, director, at 610-436-2122 or ahahn@wcupa.edu.

Institute of Race and Ethnic Studies

The Institute of Race and Ethnic Studies (formerly named the Ethnic Studies Institute), established in 1974, is designed to organize, support, and encourage interdisciplinary scholarly research, teaching, and service/outreach programs and activities that are directed toward exploring and understanding the social and historical experience of racial and ethnic groups in the United States. The Institute works with groups and constituencies concentrating on racial, ethnic, and cultural understanding, and fostering the development of a diverse university environment. The Institute encourages and supports faculty and students in their research on race and ethnic studies. The Institute also aims to cultivate relationships with local groups whenever possible.

The Institute of Race and Ethnic Studies offers an interdisciplinary minor in Ethnic Studies which provides students with a critical understanding of the social and historical experiences of racial and ethnic groups in the U.S and the impact of social and cultural systems and structures on these groups. The minor may lead to a multi-ethnic emphasis or to a concentration in one of the following areas: African American Studies, Asian American Studies, Jewish American Studies, Latino/a Studies, and Native American Studies. The Institute is responsible for curriculum development and assessment of the minor and student academic advising.

For more information about The Institute of Race and Ethnic Studies or the minor, contact Dr. Miguel Ceballos, Director, at mceballos@wcupa.edu (610-436-2308) or Dr. Carla Lee Verderame, Assistant Director, at cverderame@wcupa.edu (610-436-0013).

Poetry Center

The West Chester University Poetry Center hosts the annual West Chester University Poetry and Creative Arts Festival (the nation's premier all-poetry writing conference), sponsors the University’s Poet-in-Residence program, and presents poetry readings throughout the year. The Center also oversees national poetry awards under the auspices of the Iris N. Spencer Poetry Awards, which include the Myong Cha Son Haiku Award, the Rhina P. Espaillat Award, the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and the Wil Mills Award. Scholarships to attend the Festival and other events are made possible through the Shirley Geok-lin Lim Fellowship. The Center’s activities are directed by the Poetry Center Director, who is appointed by the dean of the College of Arts and Humanities. An interdisciplinary faculty committee advises and supports the work of the Center. For more information, e-mail the Poetry Center, or call 610-436-2598.

WCU Community Mental Health Services (CMHS)

WCU Community Mental Health Services (CMHS) is affiliated with the West Chester University Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.) Program. CMHS serves as a training center for graduate students in the Psy.D. Program and as a clinical research site for faculty in the Psychology Program. As a non-profit training and research facility, CMHS provides low-cost, high-quality psychotherapy and testing for members of the greater West Chester community, staff and faculty of WCU, as well as WCU students referred from the University Counseling Center. Services include psychotherapy for a wide range of psychological disorders and educational assessments, including assessments for ADHD, learning disabilities, and other disorders that may require documentation to secure classroom accommodations. CMHS is located on the 8th Floor of Wayne Hall. For additional information or to schedule an appointment, please call 610-436-2510 or go to http://www.wcupa.edu/communityMentalHealth.

 Dub-C Autism Program (D-CAP)

The Dub-C Autism Program (www.wcupa.edu/dcap) is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) Autism Initiative.  D-CAP is a campus program supporting matriculated students on the autism spectrum. The program provides student services across the areas of Executive Functioning, Self-Care, Social Competence, Self-Advocacy, and Career Preparation. Students set their own goals, and skill development is addressed via individual appointments, group meetings, and/or social engagements. In addition, the program provides training and support for faculty, staff, and peers helping West Chester University build an inclusive and accepting campus community. For additional information go to www.wcupa.edu/dcap or call 610-436-3168.

RAM Initiative

Real Achievement Matters (RAM) Initiative is an inclusive post-secondary educational experience for individuals (ages 18-24) with intellectual disabilities at West Chester University of PA. The two-year program provides students the opportunity to learn, live, and interact with all students, faculty, and staff across the university. Students take classes on either an audit or for-credit basis and have a non-traditional application/admissions process. RAM Initiative students are full-time students, have full privileges of the university, and are eligible for Pell Grants and Federal Financial Work Study programs (if financially eligible by filling out a FASFA form).