Mixed-sex education, also known as coeducation or co-education, is the integrated education of male and female persons in the same institution. It is the opposite of single-sex education
Single-sex education
Single-sex education, also known as single-gender education, is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate classes or in separate buildings or schools. The practice was predominant before the mid-twentieth century, particularly in secondary education and...

. Most older institutions of higher education were reserved for the male sex and since then have changed their policies to become coeducational.


The first mixed-sex institution of higher learning in China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 was the Nanjing Higher Normal School, which was renamed National Central University
National Central University
National Central University is a national comprehensive university in Taiwan .National Central University was founded in 1915 and originated in 258 CE at Nanjing, China. After NCU in Nanjing was renamed Nanjing University in 1949, NCU was re-established in Taiwan in 1962...

 and Nanjing University
Nanjing University
Nanjing University , or Nanking University, is one of the oldest and most prestigious institutions of higher learning in China...

. For thousands of years in China, public schools, especially public higher learning schools, were for men. Generally only schools established by zongzu (宗族, gens) were for both male and female students. Some schools such as Li Zhi's school in Ming Dynasty
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 and Yuan Mei
Yuan Mei
Yuan Mei was a well-known poet, scholar, artist, and gastronome of the Qing Dynasty.Yuan Mei was born in Qiantang , Zhejiang province, to a cultured family who had never before attained high office. He achieved the degree of jinshi in 1739 at the young age of 23, was immediately appointed to the...

's school in Qing Dynasty
Qing Dynasty
The Qing Dynasty was the last dynasty of China, ruling from 1644 to 1912 with a brief, abortive restoration in 1917. It was preceded by the Ming Dynasty and followed by the Republic of China....

 enrolled both male and female students. In the 1910s women's universities were established such as Ginling Women's University and Peking Girls' Higher Normal School, but there were no coeducation in higher learning schools.

Tao Xingzhi
Tao Xingzhi
Tao Xingzhi , was a renowned 20th century Chinese educator and reformer. He studied at Teachers College, Columbia University and returned to China to champion progressive education. His career in China as a liberal educator was not derivative of John Dewey, as some have alleged, but creative and...

, the Chinese advocator of mixed-sex education, proposed The Audit Law for Women Students (規定女子旁聽法案) at the meeting of Nanjing Higher Normal School held on December 7, 1919. He also proposed that the university recruit female students. The idea was supported by the president Guo Bingwen
Guo Bingwen
Kuo Ping-Wen ,1880–1969, an influential Chinese educator, is considered as a founder of the modern Chinese university. He was born in Shanghai, Jiangsu province, and his father was an elder in the Presbyterian Church...

, academic director Liu Boming, and such famous professors as Lu Zhiwei
Lu Zhiwei
Lu Zhiwei was a famous Chinese psychologist and linguist from Wuxing, Zhejiang.Lu went abroad to the United States to study during 1915. In 1920, he graduated from the Columbia University Psychology with the doctoral paper "Forgotten Condition". Lu returned to China that year and was hired in...

 and Yang Xingfo, but opposed by many famous men of the time. The meeting passed the law and decided to recruit women students next year. Nanjing Higher Normal School enrolled eight Chinese women students in 1920. In the same year Peking University
Peking University
Peking University , colloquially known in Chinese as Beida , is a major research university located in Beijing, China, and a member of the C9 League. It is the first established modern national university of China. It was founded as Imperial University of Peking in 1898 as a replacement of the...

 also began to allow women students to audit classes. One of the most notable female students of that time was Jianxiong Wu.

In 1949, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 was founded. The government of PRC has provided more equal opportunities for education since then, and all schools and universities have become mixed-sex. In recent years, however, many female and/or single-sex schools have again emerged for special vocational training needs but equal rights for education still apply to all citizens.

In China Muslim Hui
Hui people
The Hui people are an ethnic group in China, defined as Chinese speaking people descended from foreign Muslims. They are typically distinguished by their practice of Islam, however some also practice other religions, and many are direct descendants of Silk Road travelers.In modern People's...

 and Muslim Salars are against coeducation, due to Islam, Uyghur
Uyghur people
The Uyghur are a Turkic ethnic group living in Eastern and Central Asia. Today, Uyghurs live primarily in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the People's Republic of China...

s are the only Muslims in China that do not mind coeducation and practice it.


Admission to the Sorbonne
The Sorbonne is an edifice of the Latin Quarter, in Paris, France, which has been the historical house of the former University of Paris...

 was opened to girls in 1860. The baccalaureat
The baccalauréat , often known in France colloquially as le bac, is an academic qualification which French and international students take at the end of the lycée . It was introduced by Napoleon I in 1808. It is the main diploma required to pursue university studies...

 became gender-blind in 1924, giving equal chances to all girls in applying to any universities. Mixed-sex education became mandatory for primary schools in 1957 and for all universities in 1975.

Hong Kong

St. Paul's Co-educational College
St. Paul's Co-educational College
St. Paul's Co-educational College , is located at 33 MacDonnell Road, Mid-levels, Hong Kong....

 was the first mixed-sex secondary school
High school
High school is a term used in parts of the English speaking world to describe institutions which provide all or part of secondary education. The term is often incorporated into the name of such institutions....

 in Hong Kong
Hong Kong
Hong Kong is one of two Special Administrative Regions of the People's Republic of China , the other being Macau. A city-state situated on China's south coast and enclosed by the Pearl River Delta and South China Sea, it is renowned for its expansive skyline and deep natural harbour...

. It was founded in 1915 as St. Paul's Girls' College. At the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 it was temporarily merged with St. Paul's College
St. Paul's College, Hong Kong
St. Paul's College is an Anglican day school for boys in Mid Levels, Hong Kong and is located adjacent to University of Hong Kong. Established in 1851, it is the oldest secondary school in Hong Kong that is still in operation...

, which is a boys' school. When classes at the campus of St. Paul's College were resumed, it continued to be mixed, and changed to its present name.


In the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 the official term is mixed, and today most school
A school is an institution designed for the teaching of students under the direction of teachers. Most countries have systems of formal education, which is commonly compulsory. In these systems, students progress through a series of schools...

s are mixed.
A number of Quaker co-educational boarding schools were established before the 19th century.
In England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 the first non-Quaker public mixed-sex boarding school was Bedales School
Bedales School
Bedales School is a co-educational independent school situated in Hampshire, in the south east of England. Founded in 1893 by John Haden Badley in reaction to the limitations of conventional Victorian schools, today the school is one of the most expensive in the UK, charging £9,985 per term for a...

, founded in 1893 by John Haden Badley
John Haden Badley
John Haden Badley , author, educator, and founder of Bedales School, which claims to have become the first coeducational public boarding school in England in 1893....

 and becoming mixed in 1898. The Scottish Dollar Academy
Dollar Academy
Dollar Academy was founded in 1818, which makes it the oldest co-educational day and boarding school in the world. The open campus occupies a site in the centre of the thriving town of Dollar in Central Scotland, less than 40 minutes drive from the two main Scottish cities, Glasgow and Edinburgh...

 claims to be the first mixed-sex boarding school in the UK (in 1818). Many previously single-sex schools have begun to accept both sexes in the past few decades; for example, Clifton College
Clifton College
Clifton College is a co-educational independent school in Clifton, Bristol, England, founded in 1862. In its early years it was notable for emphasising science in the curriculum, and for being less concerned with social elitism, e.g. by admitting day-boys on equal terms and providing a dedicated...

 began to accept women in 1987.

Higher education institutions

The first United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 university to allow ladies to enter on equal terms with gentlemen, and hence be admitted to academic degrees, was the University of London
University of London
-20th century:Shortly after 6 Burlington Gardens was vacated, the University went through a period of rapid expansion. Bedford College, Royal Holloway and the London School of Economics all joined in 1900, Regent's Park College, which had affiliated in 1841 became an official divinity school of the...

 in 1878, with degrees being conferred upon the United Kingdom's first four female graduates in 1880.
The first institution engaged in educating students, given the University of London's then role was an examining authority, to become fully co-educational was University College London
University College London
University College London is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom and the oldest and largest constituent college of the federal University of London...

 in 1878.
The University of Cambridge
University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge is a public research university located in Cambridge, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest university in both the United Kingdom and the English-speaking world , and the seventh-oldest globally...

 allowed women to take its examinations in 1881 but refused to confer degrees upon women until 1948. The University of Oxford
University of Oxford
The University of Oxford is a university located in Oxford, United Kingdom. It is the second-oldest surviving university in the world and the oldest in the English-speaking world. Although its exact date of foundation is unclear, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096...

 allowed women to take its examinations in 1884 but refused to admit female graduands to the degrees if they passed the said oral examinations until 1920.

Given their dual role as both boarding house and educational establishment, individual colleges at Oxford and Cambridge remained segregated for much longer periods. The first Oxford college to house both men and women was the graduate-only Nuffield College in 1937, with the first five undergraduate colleges (including St Catherine's
St Catherine's College, Oxford
St Catherine's College, often called Catz, is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its motto is Nova et Vetera...

) becoming mixed in 1974. The first mixed Cambridge college was the graduate-only Darwin
Darwin College, Cambridge
Darwin College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge.Founded in 1964, Darwin was Cambridge University's first graduate-only college, and also the first to admit both men and women. The college is named after the family of one of the university's most famous graduates, Charles Darwin...

 from its foundation in 1964. Churchill
Churchill College, Cambridge
Churchill College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.In 1958, a Trust was established with Sir Winston Churchill as its Chairman of Trustees, to build and endow a college for 60 fellows and 540 Students as a national and Commonwealth memorial to Winston Churchill; its...

, Clare
Clare College, Cambridge
Clare College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England.The college was founded in 1326, making it the second-oldest surviving college of the University after Peterhouse. Clare is famous for its chapel choir and for its gardens on "the Backs"...

 and King's
King's College, Cambridge
King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is "The King's College of our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge", but it is usually referred to simply as "King's" within the University....

 colleges of Cambridge were the first previously all-male colleges to admit female undergraduates in 1972. Magdalene
Magdalene College, Cambridge
Magdalene College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The college was founded in 1428 as a Benedictine hostel, in time coming to be known as Buckingham College, before being refounded in 1542 as the College of St Mary Magdalene...

 was the last all-male college to become mixed in 1988.

The last single-sex college in Oxford, St Hilda's
St Hilda's College, Oxford
St Hilda's College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England.The college was founded in 1893 as a hall for women, and remained an all-women's college until 2006....

, went mixed from Michaelmas term
Michaelmas term
Michaelmas term is the first academic term of the academic years of the following British and Irish universities:*University of Cambridge*University of Oxford*University of St...

 2008; however Permanent Private Hall
Permanent Private Hall
A Permanent Private Hall at the University of Oxford is an educational institution within the university. There are six Permanent Private Halls at Oxford, five of which admit undergraduates. They were founded by different Christian denominations....

s exist which are open only to men. Three colleges remain single sex at Cambridge: Murray Edwards (New Hall), Newnham
Newnham College, Cambridge
Newnham College is a women-only constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The college was founded in 1871 by Henry Sidgwick, and was the second Cambridge college to admit women after Girton College...

 and Lucy Cavendish
Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge
Lucy Cavendish College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge. It is a women-only college, which admits only postgraduates and undergraduates aged 21 or over....



The first mixed-sex institute of higher education in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 was Oberlin College
Oberlin College
Oberlin College is a private liberal arts college in Oberlin, Ohio, noteworthy for having been the first American institution of higher learning to regularly admit female and black students. Connected to the college is the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, the oldest continuously operating...

 in Oberlin, Ohio
Oberlin, Ohio
Oberlin is a city in Lorain County, Ohio, United States, to the south and west of Cleveland. Oberlin is perhaps best known for being the home of Oberlin College, a liberal arts college and music conservatory with approximately 3,000 students...

, which was established in 1833. Mixed-sex classes were admitted to the preparatory department at Oberlin in 1833 and the college department in 1837. The first four women to receive bachelor's degrees in the United States earned them at Oberlin in 1841. Later, in 1862, the first black woman to receive a bachelor's degree (Mary Jane Patterson
Mary Jane Patterson
Mary Jane Patterson was born September 12, 1840, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was the first African American woman to receive a B.A degree. She was the oldest of Henry Irving Patterson and Emeline Eliza Patterson's children. There is conflicting data on how many siblings she had, but most...

) also earned it from Oberlin College. Beginning in 1844, Hillsdale College
Hillsdale College
Hillsdale College in Hillsdale, Michigan, United States, is a co-educational liberal arts college known for being the first American college to prohibit in its charter all discrimination based on race, religion, or sex; its refusal of government funding; and its monthly publication, Imprimis...

 became the second college to admit mixed-sex classes to four-year degree programs.

The University of Iowa
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is a public state-supported research university located in Iowa City, Iowa, United States. It is the oldest public university in the state. The university is organized into eleven colleges granting undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees...

 became the first coeducational public
Public university
A public university is a university that is predominantly funded by public means through a national or subnational government, as opposed to private universities. A national university may or may not be considered a public university, depending on regions...

 or state university in the United States in 1855, and for much of the next century, public universities, and land grant universities
Land-grant university
Land-grant universities are institutions of higher education in the United States designated by each state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890....

 in particular, would lead the way in mixed-sex higher education. There were also many private coeducational universities founded in the 19th century, especially west of the Mississippi River. East of the Mississippi, Cornell University
Cornell University
Cornell University is an Ivy League university located in Ithaca, New York, United States. It is a private land-grant university, receiving annual funding from the State of New York for certain educational missions...

 admitted its first female student in 1870.

Around the same time, single-sex
Single-sex education
Single-sex education, also known as single-gender education, is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate classes or in separate buildings or schools. The practice was predominant before the mid-twentieth century, particularly in secondary education and...

 women's colleges were also appearing. According to Irene Harwarth, Mindi Maline, and Elizabeth DeBra: "women's college
Women's colleges in the United States
Women's colleges in the United States are single-sex U.S. institutions of higher education that exclude or limit males from admission. They are often liberal arts colleges...

s were founded during the mid- and late-19th century in response to a need for advanced education for women at a time when they were not admitted to most institutions of higher education." Notable examples include the prestigious Seven Sisters
Seven Sisters (colleges)
The Seven Sisters are seven liberal arts colleges in the Northeastern United States that are historically women's colleges. They are Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Mount Holyoke College, Radcliffe College, Smith College, Vassar College, and Wellesley College. All were founded between 1837 and...

, of which Vassar College
Vassar College
Vassar College is a private, coeducational liberal arts college in the town of Poughkeepsie, New York, in the United States. The Vassar campus comprises over and more than 100 buildings, including four National Historic Landmarks, ranging in style from Collegiate Gothic to International,...

 is now coeducational and Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College
Radcliffe College was a women's liberal arts college in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and was the coordinate college for Harvard University. It was also one of the Seven Sisters colleges. Radcliffe College conferred joint Harvard-Radcliffe diplomas beginning in 1963 and a formal merger agreement with...

 has merged with Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

. Other notable women's colleges that have become coeducational include Wheaton College
Wheaton College
Wheaton College may refer to:* Wheaton College , private Christian, coeducational, liberal arts college in Wheaton, Illinois* Wheaton College , private, coeducational, liberal arts college in Norton, Massachusetts...

 in Massachusetts, Ohio Wesleyan Female College
Ohio Wesleyan Female College
Ohio Wesleyan Female College was founded in 1853 in Delaware, Ohio. It is also known under the name Wesleyan Female College in Cincinnati...

 in Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, Skidmore College
Skidmore College
Skidmore College is a private, independent, liberal arts college with an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students. The college is located in the town of Saratoga Springs, New York State....

, Wells College
Wells College
Wells College is a private coeducational liberal arts college located in Aurora, Cayuga County, New York, on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. Initially an all-women's institution, Wells became a co-ed college in Fall 2005....

, and Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence College
Sarah Lawrence College is a private liberal arts college in the United States, and a leader in progressive education since its founding in 1926. Located just 30 minutes north of Midtown Manhattan in southern Westchester County, New York, in the city of Yonkers, this coeducational college offers...

 in New York state, Goucher College
Goucher College
Goucher College is a private, co-educational, liberal arts college located in the northern Baltimore suburb of Towson in unincorporated Baltimore County, Maryland, on a 287 acre campus. The school has approximately 1,475 undergraduate students studying in 31 majors and six interdisciplinary...

 in Maryland, and Connecticut College
Connecticut College
Connecticut College is a private liberal arts college located in New London, Connecticut.The college was founded in 1911, as Connecticut College for Women, in response to Wesleyan University closing its doors to women...


Primary and secondary schools

Several early primary and secondary school
Secondary school
Secondary school is a term used to describe an educational institution where the final stage of schooling, known as secondary education and usually compulsory up to a specified age, takes place...

s in the United States were single-sex. One example is Collegiate School, a boys' school operating in New York by 1638 (at the latest).

Nonetheless, mixed-sex education existed at these levels in the U.S. long before it extended to colleges. For example, in 1787, the predecessor to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Lancaster is a city in the south-central part of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It is the county seat of Lancaster County and one of the older inland cities in the United States, . With a population of 59,322, it ranks eighth in population among Pennsylvania's cities...

, opened as a mixed-sex secondary school. Its first enrollment class consisted of 78 male and 36 female students. Among the latter was Rebecca Gratz
Rebecca Gratz
Rebecca Gratz was a preeminent Jewish American educator and philanthropist.Gratz was the seventh of twelve children born to Miriam Simon and Michael Gratz...

, the first Jewish female college student in the United States. However, the school soon began having financial problems and it reopened as an all-male institution. Westford Academy
Westford Academy
Westford Academy is the public high school for the town of Westford, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1792, and is one of the oldest public high schools in the United States. Westford Academy was originally established as a private school and was changed to a public school in 1928...

 in Westford, Massachusetts
Westford, Massachusetts
Westford is a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 21,951 at the 2010 census.-History:Originally a part of neighboring Chelmsford, West Chelmsford soon grew large enough to sustain its own governance, and was officially incorporated as Westford on September 23,...

 has operated as mixed-sex secondary school since its founding in 1792.

"Coed" as slang

In American and Canadian colloquial language, "coed" (short for "coeducational student") is also an informal term that refers to institutions with men and women. This usage reflects the historical process by which it was often female pupils who were admitted to schools originally reserved for boys or for male pupils who were admitted to schools historically reserved for women, and thus it was they who were identified with its becoming "coeducational". The word is also often used to describe a situation in which both sexes are integrated in any form (e.g., "The team is coed").

In northern American culture, the term "coed" is also widely used as a generic slang term to describe a college female in particular, often in tandem with them being fetishized
Sexual fetishism
Sexual fetishism, or erotic fetishism, is the sexual arousal a person receives from a physical object, or from a specific situation. The object or situation of interest is called the fetish, the person a fetishist who has a fetish for that object/situation. Sexual fetishism may be regarded, e.g...

 in some way; for instance, a phrase like "sexy coeds" would normally be assumed to refer to attractive college-aged women specifically.

See also

  • Co-educational boarding schools
  • Single-sex education
    Single-sex education
    Single-sex education, also known as single-gender education, is the practice of conducting education where male and female students attend separate classes or in separate buildings or schools. The practice was predominant before the mid-twentieth century, particularly in secondary education and...

  • Men's colleges
  • Women's colleges
  • List of current and historical women's universities and colleges

External links

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