Wharton History

In 1881, American entrepreneur and industrialist Joseph Wharton established the world’s first collegiate school of business at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Joseph Wharton’s pioneering vision for the School was to produce graduates who would become “pillars of the state, whether in private or in public life.” The Wharton School maintains a long tradition of educating visionary business leaders in academe, business, government, and not-for-profit organizations. Today, Wharton has expanded the scope of this vision to become the most comprehensive source of business knowledge in the world — with 225+ faculty members, 93,000 alumni, 5,000 students in academic programs, and more than 9,000 executive education participants annually.

A History of Leadership

Tracing the School’s progress alongside business history, from Wharton’s founding in 1881 to the opening of Jon M. Huntsman Hall in 2002. More »

A Century of Innovation

Commemorating Wharton’s centennial anniversary and chronicling innovations in different industries and sectors throughout its first hundred years. More »

125 Influential People & Ideas

A special 125th anniversary issue of the Wharton Magazine featuring stories of influential people and ideas. More »

Past Leaders

Short biographical sketches of Wharton’s leaders since our founding more than 125 years ago. More »

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Wharton Innovations in Business
1881 First business school at a university
1881-1901 School name: Wharton School of Finance and Economy
1902-1971 School name: Wharton School of Finance and Commerce
1881-1910 First business textbooks
1921 First research center at a business school, Industrial Research Unit
1953-present First and longest-running custom executive education program, Securities Industries Institute
1970 First MBA program in health care management
1972-present School name: Wharton School
1973 First center for entrepreneurship
1978 First joint-degree program in management & technology
1983 First joint-degree MBA/MA program in international management, Joseph H. Lauder Institute
1994 First joint-degree undergraduate program in international studies at a business school, Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business
1988 – 1994 First executive advisory boards in Europe, Asia, and Latin America
1999 Knowledge@Wharton, the School’s biweekly online business journal, is launched.
2001 Established West Coast MBA Program for Executives — Wharton | San Francisco
2001 Established an Alliance with INSEAD in the global development and delivery of management education
2003 First doctoral program in ethics and legal studies
2010 Knowledge@Wharton reaches 1.8 million subscribers worldwide.