Today St. John’s University has six schools and colleges, but when St. John’s was founded in 1870, there was only a small liberal arts college (St. John’s College), supplemented by a Preparatory School, a Parochial School, and later, a Seminary. In its early days as a liberal arts college, there were two main courses of study; a collegiate course, leading to a bachelor’s degree, and a commercial diploma, with a focus on arithmetic, letter-writing, book-keeping, and commercial law.
In 1908, St. John’s expanded their collegiate offerings with three additional educational units; the School of Pedagogy, the School of Ceramics, and the Conservatory of Music. While the music and ceramics programs were short-lived, the School of Pedagogy, now called the School of Education, is the second oldest college within St. John’s University. The School of Pedagogy and the Conservatory of Music welcomed female students to St. John's for the first time, as well as the first female professors.
In 1913, two additional colleges were founded at St. John's; the College Extension and the Graduate School. The College Extension merged into the School of Education in 1915. The Graduate School remained a separate college until it merged with St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences during the 1998-1999 academic year.