History of the University

Established in 1894 by an act of the Massachusetts Legislature, the State Normal School in Fitchburg opened in temporary quarters in the old high school building on Academy Street. Principal John G. Thompson, aided by a teaching staff of three, implemented a two-year teacher training program for women that had forty-six participants. In December 1896, the school expanded into a new building, known as Thompson Hall, and set up the State Schools of Observation and Practice in city buildings on Day Street and Highland Avenue.

In the next decade the school was a trendsetter for programs in Education. The Edgerly School opened, originally as an eighth-grade model and practice school, and then in 1910, it became one of the first junior high schools in the United States. The following year the school initiated the first practical arts teacher training course in the country for men.

In 1930, the State Normal School was authorized to offer a bachelor's degree in practical arts, and in 1932, when it became the State Teachers College at Fitchburg, four-year degrees were offered in all areas of education.

Under the auspices of the State Division of University Extension summer courses were first offered in 1915, marking the beginning of the college's commitment to Continuing Education programs. In 1935, the college was also authorized to establish graduate programs and in 1954 the first evening courses were offered.

In 1960, the college changed its name and expanded its mission. The State College at Fitchburg diversified its programs to include degrees in disciplines other than education. In 1965, its name was officially changed to Fitchburg State College, which today offers forty-nine undergraduate degree programs in eighteen academic departments, twenty Masters Degree programs, five Certificate of Advanced Graduate Study programs, and seven Graduate Certificate programs. Enrollment is up to 3,100 full-time and 4,000 part-time students which include 1,100 matriculated graduate students. The campus has expanded from a single structure on High Street to thirty-two buildings on ninety acres, becoming the educational center for the Montachusett region. The college proudly offers traditional and nontraditional programs to serve the educational needs of its students as undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.

On July 28, 2010, Gov. Deval L. Patrick signed legislation establishing a State University system in Massachusetts, and the institution's current name - Fitchburg State University - was enacted.