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Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), the nation's oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women, was founded in 1840 by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin and the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods. Today, the distance and graduate programs serve both women and men, while the undergraduate campus program maintains its historic commitment to women. The College continues to be sponsored by the Sisters of Providence.



1 St Mary Of Woods Coll
State Mary Of The Woods
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College History


Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is the nation's oldest Catholic liberal arts college for women and one of the oldest institutions of higher education for women in the United States. It was founded as an academy for young women by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, who located at the site in October 1840. Saint Mother Theodore Guerin was canonized on October 15, 2006, by Pope Benedict XVI, and became Indiana's first saint. In 1840, six Sisters of Providence left their convent in Ruill�-sur-Loir, France, on a journey to the wilderness of Indiana. Mother Theodore Guerin led the sisters on their journey. Mother Theodore was not the first to step forward when the Bishop of Vincennes asked the Sisters of Providence to establish an academy for young women in Indiana. Although she had been decorated by the French Board of Education for being a highly gifted and efficient teacher, Mother Theodore felt unworthy of the task of founding an institution of learning, but her superiors convinced Mother Theodore to accept the assignment. Mother Theodore and five other nuns arrived on October 22, 1840, more than three months after leaving France. In 1846, Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College was granted the first charter for the higher education of women in the state of Indiana. SMWC conferred its first bachelor of arts degree in 1899. It was the first women's college to offer journalism courses and the first to offer degree work in secondary education, home economic, and secretarial science. As the careers open to women have expanded, the College has moved ahead in areas such as business, computer information systems, equine studies, psychology and nursing. SMWC now offers associate and bachelor degrees in over 30 majors on campus and online. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College is also recognized as a pioneer in the area of distance education. In 1973, the College introduced one of the first independent study programs in the nation, the Women's External Degree (WED) program. This program served adult women who needed flexible schedules to earn a degree while balancing important family and job responsibilities. In 2005, the College expanded access to its undergraduate distance and adult programs to men while maintaining its longstanding mission to the advancement of women's education and firm commitment to preserving its campus-based resident undergraduate degree program for women only. Today, through the renamed Woods Online program, women and men can earn a college degree in a wide variety of majors. In August 2012, the Indianapolis Business Journal recognized SMWC as having one of the largest online degree programs in the state. More than 800 are currently enrolled in the program from 33 states and all across the globe, including England, Greece, Hong Kong and Jamaica. Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College also offers three master's degree programs, open to both women and men, in the hybrid format. In 2000, the College created the Master of Arts in Art Therapy (MAAT) program, designed for persons who utilize or plan to utilize art in therapy or art as therapy, and the Master of Arts in Music Therapy (MAMT) program, which welcomes qualified music therapists seeking an advanced understanding of the therapeutic uses of music. In 2007, the College introduced the Master of Leadership Development (MLD) program. This program explores culture and creativity, leadership identity, ethical decision-making and critical analysis of research. All three master's degree programs utilize distance learning and intensive campus-based residencies

College Specialty


Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, a Catholic women's college sponsored by the Sisters of Providence, is committed to higher education in the tradition of the liberal arts. The College serves a diverse community of learners in undergraduate and graduate programs, while maintaining its commitment to women in its campus program. By participating in this community, students develop their abilities to think critically, to communicate responsibly,to engage in lifelong learning and leadership, and to effect positive change in a global society.



Amalia K�ssner Coudert, painter and miniaturist Mary Fendrich Hulman, Hulman Family Matriarch Mari Hulman George, chair of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Sister Jeanne Knoerle, author and educator, president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College 1968-1983 Marta Linares, First Lady of Panama (2009- ) Caroline Myss, mystic and medical intuitive Sister Alexa Suelzer, theologian, author and educator known for Old Testament criticism Jean Wilkowski, author and ambassador Sister Barbara Doherty, educator and theologian, president of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College 1984-1988 Sister Kathleen Desautels, leader of organized peaceful protests



Suburban: 67 Acres