Established as a state-assisted university in 1964, Cleveland State University adopted the buildings, faculty, staff, and curriculum of the former Fenn College, a private institution of 2,500 students that was founded in 1929. During the 1880s, the Cleveland YMCA began to offer day and evening courses to students who did not otherwise have access to higher education. The YMCA program was reorganized in 1906 as the Association Institute, and this in turn was established as Fenn College in 1929.
A significant contribution of Fenn College was its pioneering work in developing internships for students in engineering and business. Historic Fenn Tower, now student housing, still stands as a reminder of the early years, when Fenn College was known as the "Campus in the Clouds." In 1969, the Cleveland- Marshall School of Law, a merger between the Cleveland Law School and The Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, became part of the university.
Today, Cleveland State is a metropolitan university providing a rich environment for engaged learning in a dynamic location. Cleveland State’s students consider the entire city as their campus for study, practical experience, and recreation. And the university’s pledge to each student is an engaged learning experience in the real world, for the real world, among a diverse student body. More than 1,000 courses support 200 major fields of study at the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as professional certificate and continuing education programs. Programs are offered in business administration, education and human services, engineering, law, liberal arts and social sciences, science, and urban affairs.
As nearly 90 percent of Cleveland State’s students work full- or part-time, flexible academic programming and convenient class times are offered. Of the institution’s 16,000 students, approximately one-third are in graduate-level programs and about half attend on a part-time basis.