Thomas Jefferson University Commemorates Success of Historic Merger with Philadelphia University

PHILADELPHIA, PA — This year marks five years since the historic merger of two celebrated Philadelphia institutions — Thomas Jefferson University (Jefferson), a health sciences university that was founded in 1824 as the Jefferson Medical College, and Philadelphia University, a regional masters university and the nation’s first textile school founded in 1884.

Demonstrated successes include increased enrollment, better value, increased funded research, enhanced rankings, and an impressive 97% job or graduate school success rate.

“Both universities staked an early claim in providing bold, innovative, transdisciplinary approaches to post-secondary education,” said Dr. Mark L. Tykocinski, President, Thomas Jefferson University, and architect of its merger with Philadelphia University. “The new Jefferson is a model professions-focused university, better equipped to prepare the future healers, creators and builders of society. Mergers are never easy, but in this case, it was well worth it, and other universities can look to our approach as an example of success.”

Now, at a time when higher education is increasingly scrutinized for not providing a sufficient return for students, Jefferson continues to redefine the higher education value proposition by helping students master the ‘hard and soft skills’ highly sought by employers through its novel Nexus Learning approach—an approach that focuses on transdisciplinary learning that is active, collaborative, real-world and grounded in the liberal arts, with a distinctive approach to humanities education.

Additionally, Jefferson has been purposeful in cultivating creativity in its students. Since its inception in 2019, the Creativity Core curriculum has offered 123 creative-making workshops, as well as 13 sections of creativity-intensive courses. Pre- and post-workshop assessments indicate a significant positive shift in attitudes about creativity as a skill that can be expanded throughout one’s life to be a more innovative and productive professional. Creativity has also been hard-wired across Jefferson’s graduate programs, exemplified by the novel JeffMD curriculum for medical students. Launched in 2017 with an emphasis on small-group learning and scholarly inquiry, JeffMD prepares future doctors to learn actively and think critically as they develop core professional competencies.

The success of the merger is also evidenced by the University’s Carnegie reclassification to a National Doctoral Research University and a recent rise in US News & World Report best colleges rankings in the National Universities category, where Jefferson’s 2023 ranking of #127 is up 49 places in just the past two years. Jefferson’s jump in the rankings is the largest among private institutions and the fourth highest overall among National Universities. Additionally, Jefferson is ranked #61 on the list of Best Value colleges; continues to be a top performer on Social Mobility, rising to #132 from #153 last year; and is nationally ranked in a variety of other areas including colleges for veterans, fashion, and occupational therapy.

“While rankings only go so far and are but one measure of institutional quality and achievement, the pattern of increase confirms something important: Jefferson is on an exciting trajectory — continuing to rise in the estimation of students, faculty and academic leaders across the nation,” President Tykocinski added.

For the fifth year in a row, Jefferson has seen an increase in the first-year undergraduate class, this year enrolling 760 students, an 11% increase from fall 2021. Additionally, Jefferson’s overall enrollment, including undergraduate, transfer and graduate students, is increasing at a time when many universities are seeing a decline.

As a part of the University’s transdisciplinary approach to teaching and learning, the merger has given even more students from different areas of study the opportunity to work together. Examples include:

  • Cross-disciplinary courses and symposia between architecture students and the Jefferson Center for Autism and Neurodiversity (JeffCAN), along with a highly collaborative industrial and textile design/JeffCAN project to create neurodiverse furniture for doctor’s offices and other high-stress environments;
  • JeffSolves, an annual program that pairs second-year medical students and industrial design students to apply design thinking principles for generating creative solutions to challenges in healthcare settings.

Jefferson’s international footprint also continues to grow, now showcasing a number of global centers around the world, among them Japan, India, Italy, Israel, Malawi, All-Ireland, United Kingdom, and Colombia. These partnerships provide students unique research and learning options. For example, textile students will soon have the opportunity to earn a first-of-its-kind joint degree through a partnership with Heriot-Watt University in Scotland that will afford them the ability to study abroad and obtain co-curricular experiences with companies in both countries.

Another area of success is a more multifaceted, robust, and pioneering Jefferson research enterprise — which joined the ranks of Carnegie Research Doctoral Universities (R2). The University is advancing and applying knowledge to improve lives, having major impact across the full basic science, clinical, applied and health sciences research spectrum: from making fundamental discoveries on the nanoscale and atomic levels, to translating bench science into new therapeutics, to creating products and processes that benefit industries, communities, and populations. Jefferson’s extramural grant funding has more than tripled over the past decade to over $200 million annually, sourcing from federal agencies, corporate partners, foundations and individual philanthropists, and creating and applying new knowledge across the sciences, social sciences and humanities.

As Jefferson reflects on the accomplishments of the past five years, it is looking ahead to fortifying its role as a model for professions-focused education and a national doctoral research university with a distinctive global presence.

In 2024, Jefferson will celebrate 200 years of leadership in higher education, research, and healthcare — unveiling its Third Century Plan and sponsoring a year-long series of special events, outreach activities and community programs.