Salem College traces its history to April 1772, when the Moravian community of Salem, North Carolina, founded a school for girls and appointed Sister Elisabeth Oesterlein as its first teacher. Under the supervision of Salem’s boards and thanks to the teaching of the Single Sisters, the school flourished and provided the girls of late-eighteenth century Salem with as rigorous an education as the boys of the town received. Today, Salem is an intimate learning community of 1,100 women from all over the world and is one of our nation's most distinguished private liberal arts colleges.

As the oldest continuously operating educational institution for women in the United States, Salem has a proud history of fostering independence in women. Our students have the freedom to explore who they are and who they want to be. They enjoy state-of-the-art facilities for the sciences, athletics, and the performing arts; they manage student life on campus through a dynamic Student Government Association; and they participate in over fifty clubs and activities.

Students also complete the Salem Signature program, an innovative four-year series of courses that truly distinguishes Salem from other colleges. The Salem Signature program leads students along a path of self-knowledge, community service, and career preparation, ensuring that our graduates are fully equipped to excel in the world.

Salem’s Honor Code places a high value on integrity and trust, creating a learning community where achievement is the only status symbol. Our areas of distinction include the Women in Science and Mathematics program, the Center for Women Writers, the internationally known School of Music, and the month-long January Term, during which many students complete internships or study abroad.