William Woods University (WWU) is an American co-educational, independent, private university in Fulton, Missouri with 3,800 students. The university offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in a variety of disciplines in campus and outreach settings and online.
First known as the Female Orphan School, the institution was founded in 1870 in Camden Point, Missouri in response to the needs of girls who were orphaned during the war.
During the late nineteenth century, the institution moved to Fulton and expanded its elementary and secondary programs to accommodate young women who aspired to become teachers. Known briefly at the beginning of the twentieth century as Daughters College, it changed its name to William Woods College to honor a major benefactor and began offering a two-year college program. In 1962, anticipating dramatic changes in the role of American women in the labor force, William Woods became a four-year college.
Expanding its mission to address the need for graduate and adult-oriented programs, the institution became known as William Woods University in 1993. It began offering graduate degrees and admitting men as well as women into all of its programs.
The university was founded 1870 and although independent, has a historical affiliation to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
The university is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association. It was ranked 75st in the Midwest among regional universities, according to the 2018 edition of Best Colleges by US News & World Report.The university offers unique undergraduate programs of study, including an internationally recognized equestrian studies program, a four-year American Sign Language interpreting program, the first juvenile justice degree in the state, and a criminal justice degree with homeland security emphasis. Graduate level programs are offered through the Graduate and Professional Studies (GPS) program, which offers graduate degree programs, degree completion programs, and select undergraduate programs at permanent sites in Fulton, Columbia, Jefferson City, and Blue Springs as well as temporary sites across Missouri and in Arkansas. All outreach programs use a cohort model, and are designed to offer convenience for working adults and an accelerated format.
Its athletics teams are known as the Owls and participate in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics as a member of the American Midwest Conference.