The College of Charleston (CofC) was founded in 1770 and chartered in 1785. It is the oldest college or university in South Carolina, the 13th oldest in the United States. The founders of the college included three signers of the Declaration of Independence and three fathers of the United States Constitution. They founded the college "to encourage and institute youth in the several branches of liberal education." In 1836, it became the first municipal college in the United States. Women were admitted in 1918 and African Americans in 1968.
The history of the college shows in the many historic buildings around the campus, located in the heart of downtown Charleston, South Carolina. The Bishop Robert Smith House was built in 1770. Randolph Hall was built in 1828. Both survived a major earthquake in 1886 and Hurricane Hugo in 1989. Combined with a modern art center, computer building, and many annexed houses and offices, the growing campus stretches across twelve city blocks.
Founded as a liberal arts college, the curriculum expanded to include all popular areas of study when it was incorporated into the South Carolina State College System in 1970. The student body now exceeds 10,000 students. The liberal arts history is seen in the core curriculum that still includes a heavy influence of reading, writing, history, and social sciences. Keeping up with modern times, basic computer skills are becoming required for most majors.
In 1992 the University of Charleston was founded as the graduate program for the College of Charleston. By 1999, the graduate program had over two thousand students.
The school's athletic teams, which participate in the NCAA Division I Southern Conference (with no football program), are known as the Cougars. The college's best-known athletic program is men's basketball. The college also has a high-ranked women's basketball team, male and female tennis teams, golf teams as well as an up and coming mens soccer team.
Because of the historic look of the campus, many movies have been filmed at the College of Charleston, including: