Chapter 1: Emory University Overview

1.1 History

Emory University has a long and varied history, growing from a small and struggling college for Southern men to the large, diverse, and well-established top-tier university that it is today. Detailed information can be found on our History and Traditions website.

In the 1830s, a small band of Methodists in Newton County founded the new town named Oxford and college called Emory. On December 10, 1836, the Georgia legislature granted a charter to Emory College, named for the Methodist bishop John Emory. Emory College was organized in 1837 and classes began in 1838.

Following a split between Vanderbilt University and the Methodist church, Asa Candler, the founder of The Coca-Cola Company and brother to former Emory President Warren Candler (1875C), helped the church decide that a new university should be built in Atlanta. In 1914, the first unit of the university—the School of Theology—began classes in downtown Atlanta. In 1919, Emory College joined school of theology, law, medicine, business, and graduate studies at the campus in Druid Hills. Over time schools of nursing, dentistry, library science, and public health would join the family, though dentistry and library science were later phased out. In 1990, building on collaborations with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Emory launched its first new school in nearly 50 years, the Rollins School of Public Health.

At present, Emory has three campuses—Druid Hills, Clairmont, and Oxford—in addition to a number of health care sites throughout metro Atlanta.

Emory granted its first doctoral degree in 1948. It opened residential enrollment to female undergraduates in 1953 and welcomed African American students in 1963, after bringing suit against the state of Georgia and winning the right, in the state Supreme Court, to enroll students without regard to race.

A major gift in 1979 from Robert and George Woodruff of $105 million in Coca-Cola stock allowed Emory to dramatically expand and transform its programs. During the 1980s, under the presidency of James Laney and with the support of the Woodruff gift, Emory achieved national prominence as one of the nation's top research institutions. A key marker of this success was the election of Emory into the Association of American Universities (AAU), a select group of leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada.

The university has nine schools, including: 

Please consult the Office of Planning and Administration for the latest available numbers of faculty members, students, staff, and more.

Emory faculty members teach, conduct research, provide clinical care, and/or engage in service activities. Their ranks include distinguished individuals such as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Medicine, and National Academy of Sciences, as well as Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigators, and recipients of the Pulitzer and Nobel Peace Prizes. Several notable figures have been associated with Emory, including, tenured faculty member, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka and His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.

In addition to its schools and colleges, Emory University includes a museum, libraries, hospitals, and field stations (the National Primate Research Center).

Emory holds membership in many major national organizations, including the American Association of Research Libraries, American Council of Education, Association of American Universities, Association of American Universities Data Exchange, College Board, Council of Graduate Schools, Council of Southern Universities, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, National Association of Private Colleges and Universities in Georgia, and Southern University Conference. Among the regional and local organizations to which Emory holds a membership are the Atlanta Regional Council for Higher Education, Council of Southern Universities, Georgia Association of Colleges, Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges, and Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce.

Emory University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate, master's, doctorate, and professional degrees. Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097, call 404-679-4500, or visit the website for questions about the accreditation of Emory.

Additional organizations accredit schools and programs within the university. Consult the Office of Planning and Administration for more information.

More information about the university can be found on the main Emory University website.

1.2 Academic Programs

1.2.A Colleges and Schools

The academic program of Emory University is conducted through its schools and affiliated institutions. 

  • Undergraduate programs are available through the Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and the Goizueta Business School. 
  • The graduate and professional programs are conducted through the Laney Graduate School. Faculty from professional schools and the Emory College of Arts and Sciences comprise the doctoral and master's degree faculty of the Laney Graduate School. 
  • Professional degrees are offered through the School of Medicine, the Rollins School of Public Health, the Candler School of Theology, the Goizueta Business School, the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and the School of Law. 
  • A number of dual-degree options are available to students, many of which involve participation in two different colleges or schools. 

Please consult the school websites for information about the range of degrees offered: 

1.2.B Academic Partnerships with Other Institutions, Including Dual-Degree Options

Emory has partnerships with a number of local colleges and universities. For example: 

  • Georgia Institute of Technology, the Emory University School of Medicine, the Emory Laney Graduate School, and Peking University in China jointly offer a PhD in biomedical engineering through the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology. 
  • A dual-degree program sponsored by Emory College of Arts and Sciences and Georgia Institute of Technology provides a BA degree from Emory and a BS degree from Georgia Institute of Technology. 
  • The Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing and Agnes Scott College offer a dual BA/BSN degree in nursing. 
  • Emory has several other dual-degree programs in partnership with other universities; these can be found on each specific school website. 

Emory has many academic partnerships around the world. More information on Emory's partnerships can be found within the Office of Global Strategy and Initiatives. For example, Emory and Nanjing University partnered in 2009 for faculty and graduate student exchange and launched the Emory-Nanjing Visiting Scholars Program, sponsored by The Halle Institute for Global Learning and Nanjing's Institute for Advanced Study in Humanities and Social Sciences. Faculty are encouraged to visit the Global Strategy website before traveling abroad and to register with International SOS. In addition, Emory Healthcare's TravelWell Center provides pre- and post-travel health services for international travelers. 

1.3 Academic Calendar

Information about key dates can be found on the Office of the Registrar website which provides details separately for the various schools and colleges. Each academic year is divided into a fall and spring semester and two summer sessions. The fall includes an orientation for new students, freshmen Convocation, Labor Day holiday, Fall Break, and Thanksgiving Recess. The spring includes Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, Spring Recess, and Commencement. Winter Break occurs between the two semesters. The two summer sessions are each approximately five weeks in duration. The first session includes the Memorial Day holiday, and the second session includes the Independence Day holiday. These breaks and holidays are typical for Emory College, but other schools, such as the schools of Medicine and Law, may follow somewhat different schedules. Information about key religious holidays can be found in the Office of Spiritual and Religious Life.