A Brief History

Unifying two renowned legacies of innovation, education, research and professional excellence, Thomas Jefferson University now has three combined centuries of history. Driven by a newly united past, Thomas Jefferson will forge ahead into the future with a singular vision dedicated to delivering a high-value education for undergraduate and graduate students. Read below for the history of the two Universities that came together to create Thomas Jefferson University. 


In 1884 Philadelphia University was founded as the Philadelphia Textile School to educate America’s textile workers and managers.

In 1941, the School was granted the right to award baccalaureate degrees and changed its name to the Philadelphia Textile Institute (PTI).

By 1949, PTI began conducting classes in the East Falls section of Philadelphia.

In 1961, PTI changed its name to Philadelphia College of Textiles & Science.

To better reflect the institution’s breadth and depth, the College applied for and was granted university status by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1999.

The Board of Trustees voted to change the School’s name to Philadelphia University on July 13, 1999.

In 2008, Philadelphia University adopted a bold, innovative Strategic Plan and directed our efforts on advancing our mission and vision: to be the model for professional university education. The University reorganized its offerings into three colleges and three schools. 

In 2012, the University launched its PhilaU Online offering, which formalized and expanded its reach in online education.


In 1824, Jefferson Medical College was founded by Dr. George McClellan.

In 1891, the Jefferson College of Nursing was created as the Jefferson Hospital Training College for Nurses.

By 1949, Jefferson Medical College included advanced degrees in anatomy, bacteriology, immunology, etc. in its curriculum.

In 1969, Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) was established.

In 2014 the Sidney Kimmel Foundation bestowed a $110 million gift to Jefferson Medical College, now known as Sidney Kimmel Medical College.

In 2015 TJU was the largest free-standing health sciences university in Philadelphia.

2017 began the first school year as the new Jefferson, integrating the strengths of Philadelphia University and Thomas Jefferson University to become one comprehensive institution of professional education, research and human impact.