History and Heritage

Spalding University represents a legacy of education established in 1814 by the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. In 1920 the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth founded Nazareth College occupying the historic Tompkins-Buchanan-Rankin Mansion at 851 South Fourth Street, thus establishing the Louisville campus. Since 1984, the independent liberal arts institution that began as Nazareth Academy near Bardstown, Kentucky, has been known as Spalding University, honoring the roots established by Mother Catherine Spalding, founder of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.


Today, Spalding University remains committed to providing innovative curricula and programs devoted to scholarship, service and creative activity.

With a reputation spanning 200 years, Spalding University is a co-educational, independent, fully accredited doctoral level institution open to all qualified students regardless of race, religion, color, age, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability.

Many programs are uniquely structured to meet the needs of working professionals.

In 2001, Spalding launched the first MFA in Writing program in Kentucky. Spalding’s brief-residency Master of Fine Arts in Writing, co-founded by Sena Jeter Naslund (bestselling author of Ahab’s Wife, Four Spirits, and 7 other books) and Karen Mann, quickly acquired a national reputation as an intellectually stimulating and emotionally supportive program. The MFA program’s faculty and students are from around the country and the world. The 10-day residencies take place in Louisville and, in the summer, MFA students and faculty attend a residency in an international location (Paris, Barcelona, London, Dublin Prague, and others). After the residency, students return home to study independently with a faculty mentor.

Spalding University’s Adult Accelerated Program was the first such post-secondary program in the state of Kentucky.

As the first and only program of its kind in the state, Spalding’s MSBC program offers a unique blend of business and communication skills not found in traditional MBA programs. In addition, 4 new areas of concentration are now offered within the Masters in Business Communication degree: Organizational Leadership, Healthcare Management, Non-Profit Administration and Project Management.

Spalding’s unique delivery format allows students to begin classes at any of 7 starting points throughout the year, as opposed to only two offered in the traditional semester format.

Spalding University established the first baccalaureate program in nursing in Kentucky in 1933 and remains a leader in assuring excellence in nurse education. Our health sciences facility offers the latest in technology and intense lab simulation programs.

Spalding’s unique Service Living Program offers qualified applicants deeply discounted residence hall fees in exchange for community volunteerism.

Spalding offers a doctoral program in clinical psychology that has been accredited by the American Psychological Association since 1989.

Spalding University offers a comprehensive program of varsity level athletics. As a NCAA D-III institution, the Spalding Golden Eagles compete in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Success is also a trademark, with several USCAA national championships on the Golden Eagle resume, in addition to numerous SLIAC championships (sliac.org).

Teacher preparation programs combine didactic learning with actual experience in a fieldwork setting where students can observe, develop clinical skills, and benefit from firsthand experiences associated with the teaching environment.

Spalding University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award degrees at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist’s, and doctoral levels. Spalding also maintains full compliance with other national accreditation bodies, including ACOTE (Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education), NCATE (National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education), EPSB (Education Professional Standards Board), CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education), APA (American Psychological Association), CSWE (Council on Social Work Education). Spalding was the first private institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Kentucky to hold membership in the Council of Graduate Schools. In 2005, Spalding was classified with distinction as a doctoral/research University by the Carnegie Foundation.