Lesley University

About Lesley University

Known for its outstanding programs in education and the applied therapies, Lesley University includes two undergraduate colleges: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Art and Design.  Lesley University is characterized by its focus on creativity and human service.


Lesley University was founded in 1909 by Edith Lesley Wolfard. It is a private coeducational university that originally began as a school for professional kindergarten instructors, when Edith taught students in her very own living room.

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According to the Lesley website, her original vision was for the university “to be different; to consider the individual of basic importance; to inculcate the ideal of gracious living; and to foster the traditions of American democracy.”

By 1945, Edith Lesley’s once very small operation had become Lesley College.  In 1998, Lesley College merged with what was formally known as the Art Institute of Boston, and together they formed the full-fledged Lesley University in 2001.  The next major change happened in 2005, when Lesley became coeducational.

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Campus Setting

Lesley University has three campuses in Cambridge.

Doble Campus is where most students live.  Here, you will find the Margaret A. McKenna Student Center and White Dining Hall.  It’s quad is between Everett Street and Mellen Street, both of which are located off of Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard Square and Porter Square.

Part of Lesley's Brattle Campus. Photo by Elisabeth Kaeton.

Part of Lesley’s Brattle Campus. Photo by Elisabeth Kaeton.

Brattle Campus is the other campus that houses students, and it is only a ten minute walk from Doble Campus.  Brattle is home to the Sherrill Library and Washburn Commons.  This campus is shared with the Episcopal Divinity School, which is otherwise not affiliated with Lesley University.  Brattle Campus is much closer to Harvard square, behind the Sheraton Commander.

The Porter Square Campus is home to the school’s University Hall, as well as the new Lunder Arts Center and Moriarty Library.  This campus also holds the Office of the Registrar and Financial Aid, along with most of the school’s classroom and studio space.

Lesley students are only a short walk away from Cambridge museums, shops, and restaurants, and just a quick subway ride away from Boston.

Areas of Study

Lesley University is one of the largest institutions providing U.S. teachers with graduate-level education; the school prepares more teachers for professional careers than any other private institution in Massachusetts.

They have two colleges within the University for undergrads: the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Art and Design. Within these colleges, there are 21 majors, minors, double majors and specializations to pursue including business management, social sciences, illustration and animation and photography.

Beyond that, they have Master’s programs, Doctoral programs, Online programs and an exciting Pre-College program.

An Expressive Therapies class at Lesley. Photo courtesy of Lesley University.

An Expressive Therapies class at Lesley. Photo courtesy of Lesley University.

Besides education, their pioneered programs include, but are definitely not limited to, the following:

  • Expressive Therapies (in fact, Lesley has the only undergraduate program in Expressive Arts Therapy in the world)
  • Integrated Teaching through the Arts
  • Holistic Psychology

Among all these innovative, quality programs, the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program at Lesley University has been consistently ranked as one of the top ten low-residency MFA programs in the U.S.

The creative writing MFA program requires students to explore more aspects of writing, including directed critical study and specific author studies. Through these interdisciplinary studies, students are able to excel in their own creative writing and obtain a better understanding of the writing of others.

Student Body

In the 2013-2014 academic school year, 78% of Lesley students identified themselves as female.  In the same year, the top three countries of origin for international students were found to be Israel, Guyana, and South Korea.

Lesley is known for its large and diverse population of LGBT+ students, many of whom are a part of QLEAR (Queer Lesley Education and Resources) as well as LU Pride.

Lesley's Mascot, the Lesley Lynx. Photo courtesy of Lesley University.

Lesley’s Mascot, the Lesley Lynx. Photo courtesy of Lesley University.

Clubs and Activities

Students at Lesley University can become involved in a variety of student groups that range from arts clubs to political groups.  Lesley is also a Division III school, offering over seven sports for both men and women.

Lesley’s clubs and activities range from religious organizations like Hillel and the Christian Fellowship, to interest clubs like Anime Club and Disney Club, to social justice organizations like Lesley Third Wave Feminist Club.

Performance clubs include the Dance Team, LOLsley Improv, and A Capella groups Ladies First and Harmogeddon.  In 2014, Lesley’s Harmogeddon had the honor of competing in the ICCAs (International Championship of Collegiate A Capella).


Lesley’s Harmogeddon Performing!

Internships and Job Placements

Internships and field placements are the hallmark of a Lesley education. They begin as early as freshman year for undergraduates, helping to affirm (or sometimes reconsider) career aspirations.

The Career Resource Center (CRC) offers career counseling, workshops, job search resources, and employment counseling and resources.

Work-study and Lesley Work jobs are relatively easy to come by, and provide excellent experience for finding an internship after graduation.  Lesley graduates have a 93% employment rate, thanks to the emphasis that the school places on internships and networking.

Fun Facts

  • Lesley shares a campus with the Episcopal Divinity School.
  • Actor Matt Damon’s mom used to teach at Lesley!
  • Lesley students get free admission to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Institute of Contemporary Art.
  • Each year, Lesley hosts the Boston Speaker Series.

[pw_map address=”29 Everett Street, Cambridge, MA”]