Union College is one of the oldest institutions to receive a charter in the state of New York. Originally, it was an all-male institution, but this changed when the college became co-educational 175 years after its founding. The liberal arts curriculum is spread across more than twenty academic departments.
Students also have to chance to apply for interdepartmental majors and self-designed majors. Union college, like many colleges of its calibre, offers a wide range of courses in the liberal arts, sciences, literature, and foreign languages. Union College is among the few liberal arts colleges offering undergraduate degrees in engineering, particularly computer engineering, electrical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Most of the students prefer to take advantage of the international study program offered by the college.
Union college was originally Schenectady Academy, which was established in 1785. After several attempts to petition for an institution of higher learning in Schenectady, New York, the Dutch Church invited Rev. Dirck Romeyn in 1778 down from New Jersey to oversee the creation of a new college. After a series of events, the Schenectady Academy was founded and laid the foundation for the creation of Union College.
The Academy was not chartered as a college immediately, even if the Academy itself was chartered in 1793. In 1794, the Board of Regents rejected the request to charter a college, stating that the Academy was not prepared to take that step on the financial and academic levels. However, the college had received a lot of support from private individuals. In early 1795, these supporters sent two petition to the Board of Regents requesting to charter two colleges, Union College in Schenectady and Albany College in Albany.
Union College is known for its extensive array of library resources. Schaffer Library opened in 1961, and students are able to access a total of 750,000 books in print as well as digital format. Among the electronic collections, the two largest are the Early English Books Online and the Eighteenth Century Collections. Book collections contain 18th and 19th century literature, as well as books describing the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment. Resources from the first library, acquired between 1795 and 1799, are almost completely preserved.
The frenetic energy that is evident in the environment inside Union is made by ambitious and self-driven students eager to pursue other ways to expand their intellect. Many students look forward to going abroad, which is a part of the academic experience in Union College. The most popular study-abroad program was the Terms Abroad Programs. Many study-abroad programs are offered in 22 countries or regions globally.
Every year Union College also offers three-week programs during the winter break or at the beginning of the summer vacation. Union College’s engineering students are required to spend time abroad for study to graduate, including an international internship, international design project or a summer term abroad.
Even though the library resources of Union College are extensive, the school still coordinates with many different institutions to provide students access to materials not actually owned by the College. An example of such a consortium is ConnectNY, which brings together a group of libraries in New York for mutual exchange of books. Through this consortium, materials are available within about 48 hours of request.
Union College offers generous financial aid packages for students that qualify. Qualification is based on the application of the student, including attached financial documents. A financial aid package at Union generally comprises a mixture of scholarships, loan options and work-study alternatives. The average debt after graduation is $26,000.