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The Story of McMaster

We haven't always been a world-ranked research institution. In fact, we came from humble roots.


Our Roots

In 1887, a bequest from Senator William McMaster to Toronto Baptist College paved the way for the founding of McMaster University; Toronto Baptist College became the Faculty of Divinity. The first classes of McMaster University took place in a building on Bloor Street that now houses the Royal Conservatory of Music.

Sixteen students were McMaster's first graduating class, including three female students and such notable graduates as Howard P. Whidden. The Alumni Society was founded within months of the convocation ceremony.

Also in 1887, Susan Moulton McMaster, the Senator's widow, founded a girls prep-school, Moulton College. Today at McMaster, we celebrate Founder's Day annually to recognize Senator McMaster and the original schools that led to McMaster University.


Making Hamilton Home

The University moved to Hamilton in 1930 after a successful campaign by the city's residents to raise $1 million for a new campus. Hamilton Hall was named in tribute for those efforts.

The campus opened with six original buildings. University Hall housed administration, arts classes, and the library. Hamilton Hall, named in honour of the citizens of Hamilton who contributed for its construction, was dedicated to the sciences. Residence students lived in Edwards Hall (male) and Wallingford Hall (female). The Refectory served as the dining hall. The President's Residence, the sixth original building, was tucked away on the far west side of campus and today serves as Alumni House. 

McMaster throughout the years...


Building an Identity

In 1957, McMaster officially switched from a Baptist institution to a public university. The same year, McMaster established a School of Graduate Studies and began its journey to become the research-intensive institution it is today. 

Between 1950 and 1980, the student population at McMaster increased from 1,000 to 9,900. It was a period of strong growth. Many of the familiar buildings on campus were constructed. The University also developed a protocol for problem-based learning that still exists on campus today along with many experiential learning opportunities. 

The last few decades have cemented McMaster's reputation as an innovative teaching, learning and research university. Several transformative gifts, including Michael G. DeGroote's donation of $105 million, have helped to expand the facilities and research capacity that now place McMaster among the top institutions of higher learning in the world.  



McMaster Today

The years since 1887 have been a whirlwind of development, accomplishments and the honing of our identity. Today, McMaster is consistently ranked as one of the top 100 universities in the world. Our compact and gorgeous campus now holds more than 25,000 students. We consistently generate life-changing research that captures international media attention. Our community engagement is burgeoning thanks to the vision of President Patrick Deane. As a campus community, we are incredibly diverse, yet we share a commitment to creativity, innovation and excellence. 

As a grad, an employee, a donor, a community member, a student, or anyone in our community, you can be proud of McMaster today. We sure are. 


How can YOU make a difference?

In a word: potential.

Between McMaster students, faculty, researchers, staff and alumni, we have a lot of potential.

With your help, we can fulfill that potential and change the world.

The choice is yours. The potential is endless.

Support the power of education by giving to McMaster.

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The Full Picture

Looking for details about demographics, financials, student population and other important McMaster facts?

Learn more about McMaster