Caldwell College was founded as a Catholic liberal arts college by the Sisters of Saint Dominic, under the leadership of Mother M. Joseph Dunn, O.P., with the approval of the Most Reverend Thomas Joseph Walsh, Archbishop of Newark, who became its first president. Nancy H. Blattner, Ph.D. became Caldwell College’s eighth and current president on July 1, 2009.
Under the laws of the State of New Jersey, Caldwell College was incorporated on August 10, 1939, as an institution of higher learning for women and empowered to grant degrees. In 1952, the college received full accreditation from the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Caldwell College has maintained this accreditation, last reaffirmed in the fall of 2005.
In 1974, Caldwell College became the first institution in New Jersey to award the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In 1979, Caldwell College became one of the few institutions in the state to offer a unique external degree program. In 1985, the College Board of Trustees voted to make Caldwell College fully coeducational, enabling men to receive the superior education and career preparation that women had been able to receive for fifty years. Caldwell College welcomed the first full-time male students in the fall of 1986.
In November 1992, Caldwell College reached another plateau. The New Jersey Board of Higher Education granted approval for the college to offer the M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction. During the summer of 1993, the first graduate students began classes. In 2009, Caldwell College offered the first Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).