Bryn Athyn College

Bryn Athyn College is a private Christian liberal arts college in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. It is affiliated with the General Church of the New Jerusalem.

Bryn Athyn College of the New Church
Bryn Athyn College seal.png
MottoBecome a Better You.
Religious affiliation
General Church of the New Jerusalem
PresidentBrian Blair
Academic staff
Location, ,
United States
CampusSuburban, 130 acres (53 ha)
ColorsRed and white


Bryn Athyn College has been educating undergraduates since its incorporation under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1877. Then known as the Academy of the New Church. In 1890 the academy established a separate organization: the General Church of the New Jerusalem, a religious body based on the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg. A generous endowment from John Pitcairn and others enabled the Academy of the New Church to very quickly expand from a seminary into a high school and a two-year college. In 1914 it became a four-year college and by 1922 the college was conferring both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science degrees. In 1997, the Academy of the New Church College adopted a new name: Bryn Athyn College of the New Church.[1]

In August 2008 the college opened several new student residence cottages, and broke ground for a new science center and a new admissions and student life building, both of which were completed in September 2009.


The college's original campus and surrounding community of Bryn Athyn were designed in 1893 by Charles Eliot of the firm Olmsted, Olmsted and Eliot. The campus is located in the borough of Bryn Athyn, in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

Much of the college's 130-acre (53 ha) campus is undeveloped open land, and the nearby Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust supplements the natural surroundings with eight miles (13 km) of trails following a creek through woods and fields.


  • Pendleton Hall (Classrooms, Main College Office, Offices, Auditorium)
  • Swedenborg Library (Library, Archives, Computer Lab)
  • Asplundh Field House (Athletic Facility)
  • Mitchell Performing Arts Center (Theater)
  • Fine Arts Center (Fine Arts Facilities, Classrooms)
  • Dining Hall
  • Childs Hall (Housing)
  • Grant Hall (Housing)
  • Residence Cottages (Housing)
  • College Grounds Café
  • Grant R. Doering Center for Science and Research (Completed Fall 2009)
  • Brickman Center for Student Life and Admissions (Completed Fall 2009)
  • Jungé Ice Rink and Pavilion (Athletic/Recreational Facility)
  • Social Center
  • Glencairn Museum
  • Bryn Athyn Cathedral
  • Cairnwood Estate (Historic Tours and Special Events Facility)

Historic District BuildingsEdit

The Bryn Athyn Historic District includes:

Glencairn Museum

Glencairn Museum's ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman, medieval Christian, Islamic, Asian, and Native American collections educate visitors on the history of religion. The museum was built between 1928 and 1939 as a home for Raymond and Mildred Pitcairn. In 1979 the building was donated to the Academy of the New Church to serve as the school's museum of medieval and religious art.[2]

At Glencairn, Bryn Athyn students take classes, volunteer, intern, attend events, and of course, take advantage of the museum's collections.

Bryn Athyn Cathedral

Bryn Athyn Cathedral is the center of an active New Church community and serves as a religious center for Bryn Athyn College students. Construction on the Gothic revivalist architecture began in 1913, and carried on until the late 1920s.

In Bryn Athyn Cathedral there are no right angles or straight lines. The walls of the building are skewed against each other, bowing out in the middle only to return at the opposite wall. Bryn Athyn students attend Sunday worship services, stroll through the gardens, and attend the student-organized vespers services on Sunday evenings.[3]

Cairnwood Estate

Cairnwood was designed by the renowned architectural firm Carrère and Hastings and was completed in 1895. It served as the home of John Pitcairn, founder of the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, and his wife Gertrude until 1916, after which it stood vacant for years. In 1994, the Academy of the New Church renovated the building. Cairnwood now functions as a cultural and hospitality center serving the college, community, and surrounding area.[4]


Bryn Athyn College is affiliated with the New Church, a branch of Christianity based on the Bible and the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The college regularly offers religious courses, a religion major, and a number of worship services.

Education at Bryn Athyn emphasizes the practical application of truth to life and encourages students to connect their spiritual beliefs to both their studies and their daily lives. Student conduct policies are guided by moral principles, with a particular emphasis on acting honestly, respectfully, and charitably and living a life of useful service.[5]

Mission Statement: Bryn Athyn College of the New Church serves as an intellectual center for all who desire to pursue a higher education in the liberal arts and sciences, enriched and structured by the Old and New Testaments and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. The purpose of this education is to enhance students' civil, moral, and spiritual lives, as well as to contribute to human spiritual welfare.[1]


Bryn Athyn College operates on a trimester system. Fall Term usually begins in late August and continues until Thanksgiving break; Winter Term runs from after Thanksgiving until March (with a break over the Christmas holiday); Spring Term then runs from late March until the end of May.

The college's educational philosophy is grounded in the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg and the benefits of a liberal arts program. The curriculum is supported by a strong emphasis on experiential learning.[6]

With a student-to-faculty ratio of 6:1 and an average class size of 14, all courses are taught by professors. The academic program focuses on experiential learning and a solid liberal-arts foundation known as the Core Program.

The Core Program is made up of skills and perspectives. Skills courses include instruction in information literacy; language, mathematics, or programming; public presentation; quantitative analysis; service learning and internships; and writing. Perspectives focused courses address issues of spiritual, moral, and civil issues and include instruction in aesthetics, history and the social sciences, physical health, sciences, and world views.

Experiential learningEdit

Experiential learning at Bryn Athyn College includes internships, service learning, and study abroad. It is an integral part of the academic experience and a required part of the Core Program – all students have at least one service or internship experience during their four years at the college.


Students can undertake intern positions as early as the spring of freshman year, and many students participate in multiple internships and service opportunities during their time at Bryn Athyn. The college has several established internship opportunities: technical director at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center, biology research at the Pennypack Ecological Restoration Trust, medical research at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, and an education internship at Glencairn Museum. Since all Bryn Athyn students are required to participate in experiential learning, they are encouraged to pursue internships worldwide in their fields of interest.

Service learningEdit

Service is an active part of Bryn Athyn College's culture. Students can earn credit for their service in a variety of ways: internships, community service, College newspaper editor, coaching, service trips, choir, or joining the college's student-led service group Charity, Action, Responsibility, Experience (CARE). CARE organizes local activities like campus clean-ups, field trips to spend time with the children at HELP Philadelphia, or longer service trips over weekends or breaks. Some past service trip locations were Pittsburgh, Boston, Mississippi, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas. In fall 2008, for the third year in a row, students traveled to Pearlington, Mississippi to help in the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Study abroadEdit

Bryn Athyn College's study abroad program is rapidly expanding. The college's premier program is the Bordeaux Exchange Program with the Université Michel Montaigne-Bordeaux in southwest France, and they also have exchange agreements with universities in Korea, Germany, and Sweden. Whether or not they know the language, students can study there for one or two terms as early as sophomore year. In addition to formal study abroad programs, the college also helps students arrange internships or service trips throughout the world. In the past, students have studied, served, and worked in England, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, South Africa, Nepal, Costa Rica, Mexico, Ghana, and more.


Bryn Athyn College teams participate as a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III. The Lions are a member of the Colonial States Athletic Conference (CSAC) as of the 2018–19 academic year. Prior to the 2014 season, the college competed as a member of the USCAA. Men's sports include basketball, cross country, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer and tennis; while women's sports include basketball, cross country, lacrosse, tennis and volleyball.


Bryn Athyn College offers both courses and extracurricular arts opportunities in studio arts, theater, and music. Arts courses at Bryn Athyn include drawing and painting, ceramics, metals, photography, and art history.

Students with any level of experience can participate in the college's annual winter production, a main-stage play or musical with students serving as cast and crew members, costume and set designers. Some recent Bryn Athyn College productions include The Glass Menagerie, Antigone, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown, Wit, Into the Woods, The Crucible, The Miracle Worker, and more. College plays are performed at the Mitchell Performing Arts Center, a newly renovated theater on campus.

The Bryn Athyn Orchestra and College Chorale are the primary opportunities for musicians at the college. Students can audition to be a part of the orchestra, and anyone can take the chorale class. Some students join other community members in participating in the Bryn Athyn Cathedral Choir, which sings regularly at worship services at Bryn Athyn Cathedral. Special choirs are formed to present the Bach Magnificat at Christmastime and Faure Requiem on Good Friday. A joint student-faculty group, Bryn Athyn College ROCKS!, regularly hosts concerts to raise money for the new science center for the college or the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

Student lifeEdit

Bryn Athyn student life is largely student-run. Student Government and an active Social Committee plan regular activities both on and off campus. Some of the long-standing student organizations include:

CARE – community service organization
Social Committee – plans social activities
Outing Club – plans outdoor recreation and adventures
Business Club – promotes interest in business
International Student Organization – supports and celebrates international students
The Beacon – College newspaper
Sunday Night Thing – student-led vespers service and discussion groups[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "History of the College". Bryn Athyn College. Archived from the original on January 28, 2012. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  2. ^ "History of the Building". Glencairn Museum. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  3. ^ "Cultural History". Bryn Athyn Cathedral. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  4. ^ "History of the Building". Cairnwood Estate. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  5. ^ "Values and Spirituality". Bryn Athyn College. Archived from the original on 2009-08-03. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  6. ^ "Academics". Bryn Athyn College. Archived from the original on 2010-01-07. Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.
  7. ^ "Student Clubs and Organizations". Retrieved 10 Aug 2009.[dead link]

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 40°08′05.45″N 75°03′35.80″W / 40.1348472°N 75.0599444°W / 40.1348472; -75.0599444