Plymouth State University was founded in 1871 as New Hampshire’s first normal school – the 19th century precursor to the teacher’s college, training schoolteachers in 2-year experiential programs in front of a real classroom – but its history goes even farther back, to the Holmes Plymouth Institute, a teacher’s school founded in 1808. When the state of New Hampshire voted to open a public normal school, the town of Plymouth donated the Plymouth Institute, and turned its grade and high schools into a pioneering normal school, one of the first in the US. By 1939 the normal school format had expanded to a 4-year teacher’s college, and in 2003 Plymouth State reached university status. Today, Plymouth State University is a respected, comprehensive public university known for service and support, with Carnegie Foundation Community Service Classification.
Academic ProgramsBeginning in 2017, Plymouth State has done away with traditional colleges and schools, instead organizing its curriculum around a “cluster” model. This format sets up seven interdisciplinary programs organized around a theme and purpose, such as Arts and Technology, Justice and Security, and Health and Human Enrichment. This new model provides a much greater depth of undergraduate research and interconnected learning than the traditional model, as students work alongside peers of different majors, and learn from professors outside of traditional departments. Students have the opportunity to work on projects with real-world applications, and strong connections to industry and government partners give students a confident entry into their careers upon graduation.
Plymouth State offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and more than 75 graduate degrees and certificates. As a former teacher’s college, Plymouth State is one of New Hampshire’s best colleges for education, including the MA in Teaching and the Master of Education; graduate students can also earn a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.). Business, social work, and meteorology are also popular; the Gregg Meteorology Institute is one of the nation’s best. Plymouth’s 4-1 program allows students to earn their bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in just 5 years, rather than the 6 or 7 of conventional undergraduate and graduate programs.
Student LifeStudent life at Plymouth State University is centered on community – the community of Plymouth’s small student body, and the community of Plymouth. With a student body of just over 6000, Plymouth State is larger than most liberal arts colleges, but much smaller than the average public university, giving campus a just-right atmosphere. Plymouth State is especially known for community engagement and service, with Carnegie Foundation recognition and the motto “Ut prosim” (Latin for “That I May Serve”). PSU students have been known to contribute more than 200,000 community service hours a year on campus and in Plymouth.
With Plymouth centered in the White Mountains Region, a tourist area famous for scenic beauty and adventure tourism, outdoor recreation is a big part of student life at Plymouth State, from hiking and mountain climbing to skiing and kayaking. Numerous student-led groups keep the student body busy and build community. The Plymouth State Panthers compete in NCAA Division III athletics, with dominant skiing and women’s tennis teams. Plymouth maintains a friendly rivalry with New Hampshire’s other former normal school, Keene State College, and the school that wins the most games against one another in all sports wins an award known as the President’s Cup.