Emerson College was founded in 1880 by Charles Wesley Emerson as the Boston Conservatory of Elocution, Oratory, and Dramatic Art. It would remain a school exclusively for the oratory arts until 1924, when it was given the right to grant degrees in literary interpretation and journalism.
Emerson has expanded the programs of study on offer over the years, and has grown into a prestigious destination for those interested in pursuing fields such as communication, marketing, journalism, the performing and visual arts, writing, and publishing. The school is also known for its broadcasting curriculum.
You’ll often hear Emerson students saying that they don’t really have a campus—being in downtown Boston, there aren’t any outdoor spaces that aren’t public spaces. Most students think of Boston Common as their quad, since many of the school’s buildings are located nearby, around the intersection of Boylston and Tremont Streets.
The Walker Building, which houses the college’s main library, is on Boylston Street, along with the Little Building and Piano Row, both residence halls. More housing facilities are in the works at the school, including the Paramount Center, opening in 2009 on the site of the historic Paramount Theater – which is being renovated as part of the project. The Ansin Building, around the corner on Tremont Street, houses the school’s administrative offices as well as the school’s award-winning radio station, WERS 88.9 FM.
Emerson College is located in the heart of downtown Boston, on the Boston Common, and the city affords students many opportunities for entertainment and socializing.
Conveniently located in the heart of Boston's theater district, Emerson College students attain additional educational value from the school’s central location. Students regularly go exploring in Boston through field trips with their classes, such as viewing an exhibit for a photography class, touring the Boston Globe for a journalism class, or even getting water samples from the Charles River for a science course. The Boston Common is Emerson's front lawn, providing a reprieve from the bustling city life as well as offering a meeting place for political rallies and guest speakers. Emerson is also very close to downtown Chinatown, which has many diverse restaurants and people.
As reported by Cassandra Baptista ‘09:
"4/20 is an unofficial national holiday, which happens to be celebrated with sincerity at Emerson College. Although marijuana has yet to become legal for recreational or medical usage in Massachusetts, it is rather prevalent at Emerson, and 4/20 is just another excuse for a lot of students to get high. It’s a rather peaceful day—Emerson and Suffolk kids alike march to the Public Garden or the Boston Common, sit in circles, and do their thing.
"The National Day of Silence, April 25th, is celebrated by a lot of Emersonians, people who want to bring attention to actions that are anti-LGBT. Our student organization, EAGLE (Emerson’s Alliance for Gays, Lesbians and Everyone), held a gala this year the week after the event to celebrate.
"The first day of warm weather in Boston might as well be a holiday since everyone puts their responsibilities aside for a few hours to spend some time soaking up the much needed sun in the Boston Common. Students, professors, and professionals alike all find themselves outside since Boston residents go months without warm weather. In fact, some teachers at Emerson will take their students outside to conduct class if the weather is especially nice."
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Emerson teams compete at the Division III level of the NCAA and are members of the Eastern College Athletic Conference and the Great Northeast Athletic Conference.
Cassandra Baptista ’11 reports, "Emerson College's main focus is academics; namely, sending students into the real world with hands-on, actual experience in their respective fields. However, Emerson does value the role of athletics and challenges its students to participate in various school sports.
"Probably the most popular men's sport on campus is basketball, where three of Emerson's players have been named to ESPN: The Magazine's College Division All-American player list over the past four years. Other sports on campus include lacrosse, tennis, baseball, basketball, cross-country, and soccer. Women's sports include lacrosse, tennis, softball, basketball, cross-country, soccer, volleyball, as well as the dance team. Softball is probably the most popular sport for women.
"In 2007, the Emerson College softball team earned the recognition of being the Division III team with the highest grade point average in America, with a GPA of 3.548/4.0. Most students are surprised to hear that sports exist at Emerson, but for the athletes that participate in them, they are very much aware of the importance of balancing school with athletics. Sports such as lacrosse and softball sometimes only start practice at 10 PM and last until the early morning hours."
Students say that Emerson’s unofficial motto is “Gay by May.”
Emerson owns a 13th century castle in the Netherlands. Kasteel Well is home to students who choose to study abroad in their Netherlands program.
Emerson has two main dorm facilities, the Little Building and Piano Row. There are also some students living in the Double Tree Hotel on Tremont Street, as Emerson’s current housing facilities cannot accommodate the demand. In 2007-2008, there were kids in both the Double Tree hotel and the Marriott, which led the administration to tell freshmen during orientation, "Clearly, Emerson is the place to be."
Piano Row, located at 150 Boylston Street, was opened in 2006 and is entirely suite-style living. There are 12 floors of suites, a lobby, and a small dining area called “The Max.” Piano Row also includes the Max Mutchnick campus center, which includes offices, open rooms for student organizations to conduct meetings in, and two small cafeterias that overlook the Boston Commons.
The Little Building, at 80 Boylston Street (the corner of Boylston and Tremont) has suites, doubles and single rooms. The Little Building, or what is referred to by students as the “LB,” is best for freshmen looking to branch out and meet new people—more social than Piano Row where the suites are more secluded. The LB has communal bathrooms, the main dining hall, AND a convenience store that is open until 2 AM daily.