The School of Arts and Sciences (SAS) is the direct descendant of the College of Philadelphia, which Benjamin Franklin established in 1755 with the first modern arts and sciences curriculum in the English colonies.
The School's research mission was established in the 19th century, when the University transformed itself into a research institution. Its 1872 move to its present location in West Philadelphia provided several city blocks for research laboratories, and a large number of researchers were hired. A graduate division was established in 1882 with the appointment of a Faculty of Philosophy. The first fellowship for graduate study was established in 1885, and the first earned Ph.D. was awarded in physics in 1889.
The School of Arts and Sciences was formally established in 1974 with the merger of the College of Arts and Science, the College for Women, the Graduate School, and four social science departments from Wharton.
Today SAS is the largest of the University’s 12 schools, providing a liberal arts education for all Penn undergraduates and supporting graduate students who conduct innovative research in the humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences.