Founded in 1833, Stephens College is the second-oldest women’s college in the nation, as the Columbia Female Academy; two decades later, the academy closed and was replaced by the Columbia Female Baptist Academy, the direct predecessor of Stephens College. A large endowment from James L. Stephens, a local leader and philanthropist, led to the renaming of the school, which it retains today. Over the course of almost two centuries, Stephens College has developed a reputation for helping women raise one another up, and it continues proudly in that tradition. Stephens is ranked a top regional college for the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and the Princeton Review.
Stephens College is a traditional liberal arts college, with students building a foundation of knowledge in the humanities and sciences before moving into their majors. As a women’s college, Stephens puts special emphasis on principles of women’s leadership, centering its mission around service, inspiration, and integrity. Stephens is committed to developing the skills and talents of its students with academic rigor, creativity, and professional responsibility, preparing graduates to take on leadership roles in a changing world, where women’s voices are ever more crucial.
The majors Stephens offers generally fall into the traditional liberal arts, but with a contemporary emphasis on innovation and technology, such as Graphic Design Communications, Digital Filmmaking, and Health Information Administration. Stephens also has a renowned Equestrian Studies, anchored by the oldest riding club in the US. Stephens also offers graduate programs (which are available to men as well as women, including the Master in Strategic Leadership (available online), the Master of Education in Counseling, the MFA in TV and Screenwriting (a hybrid program), and the Master of Physician Assistant.
With fewer than 1000 students, Stephens College is known for its close-knit, highly supportive campus environment, dedicated to mutual uplift and encouragement. Stephens contributes greatly to life in Columbia, MO, one of the nation’s most beloved college towns, with performances, cultural events, and athletics. Sororities, honor societies, and student-led clubs give students the means to develop relationships that will provide personal growth and support through college and beyond. Stephens has also been named the pet-friendliest college in the nation, with pets allowed in residence halls, and scholarships offered to students who foster shelter animals.
The Stephens College Stars compete in the NAIA as part of the American Midwest Conference in a variety of sports, from basketball and soccer to competitive dance and equestrian competition. Stephens is also the first women’s college to join the National Association of Collegiate eSports (NACE), a varsity-level gaming federation. Stephens’ participation in esports underscores the college’s tradition of sending young women into areas that have been historically male-dominated, and helps Stephens increase women’s participation in the growing technology and gaming industry.