The term "Ivy League college" refers to the eight schools in the Ivy League athletic conference. In addition to being an athletic conference, seven of the eight Ivy League schools were also founded as colonial colleges, and thus have a long history. Those seven schools are Brown, Columbia, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale. The eighth Ivy League school, Cornell, was not founded until 1865.

Brown University

Brown was originally founded in 1764 in Warren, Rhode Island, and was called the College of Rhode Island. The school moved to Providence in 1770, and it changed its name to Brown after a $5,000 donation from Nicholas Brown in 1804. The Women's College was established independently in 1891 and merged with Brown in 1971. Brown's medical school, the Alpert Medical School, was founded in 1975.

Columbia University

Columbia was originally founded in 1754 with a charter by King George II of England. The school's original name was King's College. After it was shut down for eight years during the American Revolutionary War, it re-opened under the name of Columbia College. The name was changed again to Columbia University in 1896. Colleges associated with Columbia include Barnard College (a woman's only college, which became affiliated with Columbia in 1889) and Teachers College (which became affiliated with Columbia in 1893).

Dartmouth College

Dartmouth was originally founded in Connecticut in 1769 by the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock. The school was given its charter by King George III, and its original purpose was (according to the official Dartmouth history page) "for the education and instruction of Youth of the Indian Tribes in this Land." The Dartmouth Medical School was established in 1797; the Thayler School of Engineering was opened in 1867; and the Tuck School of Business opened in 1900.

Harvard University

Established in 1634 with a vote from the Great and General Court of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The school is named after John Harvard, who left half of his estate to the school when he died in 1636. One of the reasons Harvard is considered prestigious is because 14 Americans presidents have received honorary degrees from there. Crimson was voted as the official color of Harvard in 1910. The Medical School was established in 1782.

Princeton University

Princeton was established by charter in 1746, and it was originally known as the College of New Jersey. The College of New Jersey was in Elizabeth, and then in Newark, before it moved to Princeton in 1756. The school was re-named Princeton in 1896, and its graduate school was established in 1900.

University of Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania opened in 1751 in a building built by the evangelist George Whitefield, but with an educational curriculum partially created by Benjamin Franklin. The school was originally known as the College of Pennsylvania. Penn claims to be the first university in the United States (i.e., having more than one college) because its medical school was established in 1765. Penn's Law School was established in 1850 and its School of Engineering and Applied Sciences opened in 1852.

Yale University

Yale was originally founded in 1701 as the College of Connecticut, with the purpose of providing a liberal arts education. The school changed its name to Yale in 1718 because of a donation made by Elihu Yale, a wealthy Welsh merchant. The Medical School opened in 1810 and the Law School opened in 1824. Yale's Graduate School was established in 1861, and it was the first school in the United States to hand out a Doctor of Philosophy degree.