Today, Trinity University is billed as a residential campus with a focus on undergraduate liberal arts.
But Trinity also has a strong history of postgraduate education and currently offers five graduate programs—Master of Science in Accounting, Master of Education in School Leadership, Master of Arts in School Psychology, Master of Arts in Teaching, and on-campus and executive programs in Health Care Administration (HCAD).
From the very origins of the university in 1869, founders were determined to implement a number of individual schools or colleges, such as law, medicine, and engineering. Trinity would end up with a short-lived law school and, for a brief period, offered master's and Ph.D. degrees.
Graduate programs at Trinity underwent an ambitious expansion during the presidency of James Laurie, starting in 1958. Laurie's vision of a "greater Trinity" was a growing emphasis on graduate education. When Dean of Students Bruce Thomas first raised the subject of graduate school expansion with the faculty in 1958, he envisioned a "slow, orderly process" that would involve strengthening undergraduate departments, increasing the quantity and quality of master's programs, and in the future, the undertaking of selected doctoral programs.
During the 1960s, the university added three new graduate degree programs in theater, hospital administration (which would later become HCAD), and urban studies. The expanding graduate program also received much-needed impetus in 1962 when Laurie announced that Oklahoma philanthropist and longtime Trinity benefactor James A. Chapman had agreed to build a $1.5 million graduate center to be named in honor of his parents, Philip and Roxana Chapman. Designed by architects O'Neil Ford and H. G. Barnard Jr. of Tulsa, the Chapman Graduate Center was envisioned to be the central building in an evolving graduate studies complex.
Graduate programs would reach their peak at Trinity by the 1970s, under Laurie’s continued energy and enthusiasm. Here, the University listed 21 programs, an increase of ten since the beginning of the previous decade.
But under presidents Duncan Wimpress and Ronald Calgaard, who served later in the 1970s and 1980s, Trinity’s academic structure would evolve into largely what we see today. In order to secure the financial future of the institution and truly hone down its academic priorities, the school began shuttering all but five graduate programs and decreased enrollment from about 3,300 to 2,700 in order to focus on undergraduate education. In doing so, Trinity became a truly residential, undergraduate campus, while still maintaining some of its strongest graduate programs.