Graduate Study and Research History

Lehigh began awarding graduate degrees in 1882. The first recipient, T.H. Hardcastle, of the Class of 1880, wrote his thesis on Alexander Pope, entitled it The Rights of Man, and read it aloud at commencement in June 1882.

The first Ph.D. was granted in 1893 to Joseph W. Richards, Class of 1886. Richards, who had a background in metallurgy and electrochemistry, taught at Lehigh until his death in 1921.

Women were admitted to the graduate program in 1918 when the faculty and the board of trustees agreed to grant the degrees of M.A. and M.S. to women, provided they attended classes in the late afternoon and on Saturdays “so that the general character of campus life shall not be affected.” Three women received graduate degrees in 1921, the first women to complete graduate work at Lehigh. In 1929, the rule was changed, and women were admitted on much the same basis as men.

In 1936, the Graduate School was established to administer the graduate program. The Ph.D., which was temporarily discontinued in 1894, was reinstated in nine departments: chemistry, chemical engineering, civil engineering, geology, history, mathematics, mechanical engineering, metallurgical engineering, and physics. Tomlinson Fort, professor of mathematics, was selected in 1938 as the first dean of the Graduate School.