Southern New Hampshire University was founded in 1932 by H.A.B. Shapiro as the New Hampshire School of Accounting and Secretarial Science. The school remained relatively small until 1961, when it was incorporated and renamed New Hampshire College of Accounting and Commerce.
The state of New Hampshire in 1963 granted the university its charter, which gave it degree-granting authority. The first associate degrees were awarded that year, and the first bachelor’s degrees were conferred three years later. The college became a nonprofit institution under a board of trustees in September 1968, and the name was shortened to New Hampshire College in 1969.
The 1970s were a time of growth and change. The college moved from its downtown Manchester site to the now 300-acre campus on the Merrimack River in 1971. In 1974, the college introduced a Master of Business Administration program, and, in 1978, assumed human services degree programs that later were organized into the Graduate School of Business and the School of Human Services.
In the spring of 1981, the General Court of New Hampshire authorized New Hampshire College to award the Master of Human Services degree and the Master of Science degree in business-related subjects. That same year, to accommodate the two new rapidly expanding programs, the university purchased the former Mount Saint Mary College in Hooksett, which served as the “north campus” for many years. Operations have since been reconsolidated on the main campus. In 1988, the human services programs were transferred to Springfield College in Springfield, Mass.
The college continued to expand academic offerings throughout the 1980s and 1990s. The community economic development program was first offered in 1982 and the Culinary Arts Program was established in 1983. New liberal arts and education majors were added in the early 1990s and in the last several years. The one-of-a-kind three-year bachelor's degree in business administration was launched in 1997. Academic offerings again expanded in 1998 to include the Ph.D. in community economic development and the Doctor of Business Administration.
During the ‘90s the college opened off-campus centers to better serve adult learners. Programs today are offered in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, N.H., and in Brunswick, Maine, as well as internationally. The university extended its reach worldwide with the launching of its Internet-based distance learning program, now known as SNHU Online, in 1995.
A wave of campus expansion began in 1996 with the construction of a new residence hall; Webster Hall, home to the School of Business; the Hospitality Center, home to the Quill (a student-run restaurant) and culinary programs; and Belknap Hall, now home to the Institute for Language Education, Public Safety, the School of Education and several university offices, including the Office of Admissions. Expansion and program development led to a significant moment in the institution's history in 2001, when New Hampshire College became Southern New Hampshire University.
Construction continued with the building of a new academic center, Robert Frost Hall, which houses the Center for Financial Studies, a simulated stock trading room, and the museum-quality McIninch Art Gallery. New residence halls were built on the west and east sides of campus, and all classrooms and halls are wireless.
In 2007, SNHU became the first carbon-neutral university in New Hampshire.
Today the university has three schools – the School of Business, the School of Education, and the School of Liberal Arts – and continues to seek new ways to provide quality educational programs for all of our constituents, both in the U.S. and abroad.