About Wake Forest College

Wake Forest College began as a manual labor institute in 1834, with an initial class of just 16 young men.  Today, 183 years later, more than 5,200 undergraduates and a faculty of more than 480 comprise the cornerstone of our collegiate university, Wake Forest College.  Wake Forest remains dedicated to maintaining the highest standards of education and to preparing our students for life in a challenging, global environment.

Vision of Wake Forest College

Wake Forest College of Arts and Sciences aspires to be a vital and engaging community of learning that:

  • Combines the pedagogical intimacy of a liberal arts college with the academic vitality of an internationally recognized research institution;
  • Emphasizes exceptional teaching, discovery, and student/faculty engagement within a dynamic academic community;
  • Fosters the discussion of ideas and issues, modes of expression, and artistic and cultural exchange;
  • Attracts a diverse community of the brightest scholars and students from throughout the country and the world;
  • Encourages international education and experiences for its students and faculty;
  • Links intellectual curiosity with philosophical reflection, ethical deliberation, and a commitment to service.

Mission of Wake Forest College

Wake Forest College stands as the cornerstone of Wake Forest University. It is a distinctive academic institution that values and maintains the liberal arts tradition within the context of an internationally recognized research university. The College embraces the teacher-scholar ideal, valuing exceptional teaching; a commitment to outstanding and innovative research, discovery, performance, and creative activities; and personal academic interaction between students and faculty both in and out of the classroom.

The College honors the ideals of liberal learning, which encourages habits of mind that ask “why,” that evaluate evidence, that are open to new ideas, that attempt to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, that accept complexity and grapple with it, that admit error, and that pursue truth. Liberal education also entails commitment to teaching the modes of learning in the basic disciplines of human knowledge; advancing the frontiers of knowledge through in-depth and interdisciplinary study and research; transmitting cultural heritages; developing critical appreciation of moral, ethical, aesthetic, and religious values; and using knowledge in the service of humanity. The College believes in the development of the whole person and is committed to sustaining an environment where beliefs, assumptions, and ideas are examined thoughtfully and critically in a climate of academic freedom.

The College embraces the challenges of cultural diversity and pluralism in all their forms and is committed to addressing these challenges through the cultivation of diverse learning communities that reflect the world in which students and faculty live. To fulfill the ideals of liberal education, Wake Forest students, staff and faculty must bring with them differences to be shared and explored. The College promotes a vibrant scholarly community and integrates academics into a broad-based program of intellectual engagement with community service and extracurricular activities.

While Wake Forest College has attained a national presence and constituency, its sense of self is shaped by cultures that are distinctively southern and North Carolinian, cultures which value service. To this end, the College takes seriously its commitment to serve the community and region wherein it resides and endeavors to expand its awareness and extend its influence by emphasizing international study and international understanding. The College strives to be a dynamic and diverse learning community, valuing knowledge, experience, and service for the benefit of humanity, thus preparing students to be active and informed members of the world in which they live.

History of the College

Wake Forest Institute was founded in 1834 and opened its doors on February 3 with Dr. Samuel Wait as principal.  Classes were first held in a farmhouse in Wake County, North Carolina, near which the village of Wake Forest later developed.  It was re-chartered in 1838 as Wake Forest College.  Today, Wake Forest College, located in Winston-Salem NC, is the undergraduate liberal arts and sciences school of Wake Forest University. It comprises a faculty of over 400, confers undergraduate degrees in nearly 40 academic majors, and has an enrollment of less than 4500 undergraduates.  The College is the cornerstone of the University’s academic life; through it, the University carries on the tradition of preparing men and women for personal enrichment, enlightened citizenship, and professional life.

For over a century and a half, Wake Forest College has been educating students in the fundamental fields of human knowledge and achievement.  It seeks to encourage habits of the mind that ask “why,” that evaluate evidence, that are open to new ideas, that attempt to understand and appreciate the perspectives of others, that accept complexity and grapple with it, that admit error, and that pursue truth.


Here are some facts about the recent academic experience and graduation outcomes of the students of the College:

  • More than 14,000 undergraduate admissions applications for the 2014-2016-2017 academic year
  • Undergraduates representing 48 states and 46 foreign countries (2016-2017)
  • Of all students entering in the fall of 2015, 27% represented ethnic minorities
  • Students may choose from more than 40 majors and more than 60 minors. Those totals represent increases from 35 and 49, respectively, in 2010-11
  • 61% of the Class of 2015 received academic credit for foreign study. That’s the highest percentage among the nearly 300 institutions classified as National Universities by the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
  • Student/faculty ratio of 10:1
  • Average class size in the College is 21
  • More than 93% of full time faculty hold Ph. D. or other terminal degree
  • 1 of every 10 graduates in the Class of 2016 conducted faculty-mentored projects that led to presentations at Undergraduate Research Day
  • In the past three years, 51% of all Wake Forest College tenure-track faculty have mentored at least one Undergraduate Research Day project. 57% of full professors have done so.
  • Since 2004, Wake Forest students have earned:
    96 Fulbright Scholarships
    10 Rotary Ambassador Scholarships
    6 Rhodes Scholarships
    7 Barry Goldwater Scholarships
    5 Truman Scholarships
    2 Marshall Scholarships
  • 98% of the graduating class (2015) were attending graduate or professional schools or were employed within six months of graduation
  • Of 81 Wake Forest candidates who applied, 48 matriculated in medical schools in 2013. That’s a 59-percent rate. The national average was 39 percent
  • 68% of Wake Forest seniors from the Class of 2014 who applied to ABA-accredited law schools ultimately enrolled. The applicants had an average of 4.57 offers apiece.