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Honoring our past, focusing on our future.



Frontier Nursing University (FNU) has evolved dramatically throughout its more than 75-year history. Mary Breckinridge, Frontier’s founder, was a compassionate and visionary pioneer nurse who, with her nurse colleagues, traveled on horseback to deliver care and attend births in Kentucky’s rural Appalachian mountains.

Mrs. Breckinridge’s vision was to have her mission expanded and replicated across the nation and the world. Accordingly, in the decades that followed, Frontier dramatically extended its outreach, without veering from our core commitment of caring for women and families. Now, with more than 4,000 graduates, Frontier nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners bring their compassion and professionalism to rural and underserved communities, worldwide.

FNU is an internationally recognized and highly rated graduate nursing university - providing doctoral and master’s degrees for nurses and midwives, while concurrently stressing the importance of compassion and caring with each of our students.

Without the determination and dedication of Mary Breckinridge, and all who have made her bold vision a reality - our alumni, students, faculty, staff, Couriers, preceptors, supporters and friends – FNU would not be the top-rated, mission-focused university we are today.

This timeline highlights the important events leading up to our founding in 1939 and just some of the many ‘milestones’ we have reached in more than seven decades since. We look forward to our future with optimism, and with a renewed commitment to serve.


FNU proudly claims the following:

+ 75 years of experience in graduate nursing and midwifery education

+ Oldest and largest continually operating nurse-midwifery education program in the United States

+ First family nurse practitioner program in the country

+ Pioneered the first midwifery community based distance education program in the United States in 1989

+ More than 4,000 nurses and midwives have graduated with advanced practice degrees

+ Students and alumni represent every US state and many foreign countries

+ Named a “Great College to Work For” by The Chronicle of Higher Education

+ Ranked by US News & World Report in the Top 30 Online Graduate Nursing Schools

+ Frontier Nursing University's programs are consistently ranked among the top in the nation.  


Photos courtesy of Jane Addams Hull-House Museum.

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum serves as a dynamic memorial to social reformer Jane Addams, the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and her colleagues whose work changed the lives of their immigrant neighbors as well as national and international public policy. The settlement house work was carried out by reformers such as Florence Kelley, who led the Maps and Papers project, Julia Lathrop, who served as the first female director of the United States Children's Bureau, and Sophonisba Breckinridge, who organized the Women's Peace Party (WPP) and attended the International Congress of Women at the Hague alongside Addams. Breckinridge wrote several books with longtime partner Edith Abbott about the tenements of Chicago. Through their writing, they exposed the living conditions of neighboring immigrant communities and explored the root causes of social issues, such as racism, poverty and crime which impacted nearby communities. The Museum activates these stories and more in the preservation of the original Hull-House site and in the interpretation and continuation of the historic settlement house vision, linking research, education and social engagement. To learn more about the museum, guided tours and public events visit their website at

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