How is it that William & Mary is not an ivy league school?

It was founded in 1693. President’s Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe and John Tyler all attended there.

I am just scratching my head as to how is it not an ivy? It has all the markings of an ivy.

Ivy League schools are part of a certain sports conference. That’s all.

William & Mary is, however, known as a “Public Ivy.”


It’s a public university for starters. But more importantly, the Ivy League is an athletic conference. It is not a group of the USA’s top 8 universities or oldest universities.


I don’t think that’s an exclusion not to be considered an ivy. I mean Cornell is considered a public as well but it is considered an ivy.

Cornell is Private, although is it a land grant university. Most of the original land grant universities became the large public universities but there are a few (Cornell, MIT, Tuskegee…) that are private

Cornell is not public. It is a statutory college. There’s a difference.

Because it is an Ivy.


Cornell University includes statutory colleges and entirely private colleges.

The Ivy League is an athletic conference in the Northeast. William and Mary is not in the Northeast and does not offer most of the sports played in the Ivy League conference. It wouldn’t make sense for them to switch to Ivy League conferences.

It sounds like you are more talking about the school’s history rather than athletic conference. I believe W&M is the 2nd oldest college after Harvard, so it is certainly as old as other Ivy League colleges. As such, it is not surprising that early presidents located in the same state as W&M attended. However, this is not the only criteria for being an Ivy League college.

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Regarding Thomas Jefferson, he designed the campus of another Virginia institution, UVA, so the importance of his historical association with W&M may have been partly superseded.

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lol, Thomas Jefferson attended W&M not uva.

In fact there has not been a single US president that attended uva for undergrad.

While I understand the sports conference issue, given it is one of the oldest colleges in the country, why has W&M not achieved the status, notoriety, and global recognition as other similarly aged schools?

This question is not meant to be critical, but curious why the school has such a low profile compared to the Ivys and schools like UVa.

For starters, IMO they would have to improve their need-based aid for out-of-state applicants. One of the very common practices of top colleges now is to meet full demonstrated need for applicants, improving equity. I realize that they don’t all have the endowments for this, but it matters. Ivies and even UVA have been mentioned above. They all meet full demonstrated need and are need-blind like their top-ranked peers.

William & Mary seems to be a highly respected college that does attract high-achieving students. Until it becomes affordable for more families, I’m not sure it can compete squarely with schools that are.

That’s not to say it’s not a wonderful college, just that it has financial aid drawbacks similar to Tufts (need aware) and Tulane (doesn’t meet full demonstrated need). All terrific colleges nonetheless.

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Two factors that are correlated with having a high USNWR type prestige include being private and having a top endowment per student. A summary of top endowment per student “national universities” is below. Being public and having a far lower endowment per student than all 8 Ivies and the state flagship (UVA) is not a promising sign for top USNWR type prestige.

  1. Princeton
  2. Yale
  3. Stanford
  4. Harvard
  5. MIT

    25 to 30. Cornell (lowest Ivy) and University of Virginia

    ~60. William and Mary.
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Why do you want it to be an Ivy and play in the Ivy league? It isn’t in ‘the neighborhood’ and while travel isn’t that big of an issue now, it was in the 40’s and 50’s. Now athletic conference can be a little more open to adding schools that are a haul, but when the Ivy league was forming, distance was an issue. And the Ivy league hasn’t changed and let new schools in since it was officially formed.

If you want W&M to be considered just as good as the Ivy schools, go for it. Others won’t agree with you and will argue Stanford should be let in (Stanford is very happy in the Pac 12) or MIT (different division) or Duke before W&M but you can argue the case for W&M. The Ivies aren’t letting anyone else in.


William & Mary’s endowment hit $1 billion last year, which is not too shabby for a public school of 6,000 undergrads.

I’m glad W&M doesn’t have Ivy level prestige. If it did, it would lose its character and vibe and become a different place.

Yes, $1 billion for 6,000 undergrads is certainly not too shabby, but it’s a far lower endowment per student than the other schools that William & Mary is being compared to in this thread. For example, Harvard has a >$40 billion endowment with similar number of undergrads as W&M. UVA and the lowest endowment per student Ivy both had an over $7 billion endowment last year. Along the same lines, I don’t think W&M does too shabby on the other metrics that have discussed such as “status, notoriety, and global recognition”. It’s #39 ranking on USNWR is also not too shabby. However, this thread is not about whether W&M is not too shabby.

Cornell just barely made it into the Ivy league. It is the UC Merced of the Ivy League. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


The better argument is for Rutgers to be included. They’re “in the neighborhood”, have been around since colonial days, and I believe were actually invited to join the Ivy League at some point in time.


@merc81 says “ Regarding Thomas Jefferson, he designed the campus of another Virginia institution, UVA”.

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