History

Established in 1880, Emerson College is named for its founding president, Charles Wesley Emerson, an orator, preacher, and teacher. Over the years, the institution has evolved from a small New England school of oratory to a multifaceted college with an international reputation.

While Emerson remains committed to its historic mission as a specialized academic institution, its curriculum reflects the emergence of interdisciplinary study as a mode for teaching and learning, and affirms new directions for the fields of communication and the arts.

Throughout its history, Emerson has shown the capacity to respond to the changing educational demands within communication and the arts. It was the first college in New England to establish an educational FM radio station (WERS, 1949), now repeatedly identified in The Princeton Review as the number one student-run college radio station in the country. It was also among the first colleges in the nation to establish a program in children’s theater (1919) and one of the first colleges to offer undergraduate programs in broadcasting (1937).

WERS

WERS, the first college radio station in New England, now called the number one student-run radio station in the country

The College’s other pioneering achievements include:

  • Offered professional-level training in speech pathology and audiology (1935);
  • Established a closed-circuit television broadcast facility, WERS-TV (1955);
  • Created a Bachelor of Fine Arts in film (1972); and
  • In 1980, the College initiated a comprehensive graduate-level program in professional writing and publishing—the first such program in the nation specifically designed to meet the expressed needs of the publishing industry.

The College has continued to innovate, adding a Master of Fine Arts in Media Art, a Master of Arts in Health Communication (in partnership with Tufts University School of Medicine), a Bachelor of Science in Marketing Communication, and an undergraduate program in Business and Entrepreneurial Studies.