The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJs) trace their roots to Le Puy, France, where, in 1650, six ordinary women joined together in community under the patronage of St. Joseph. These women served outside cloister dressed in widow's garb and devoted themselves to the needs of ordinary people, living among them and offering their lives in service to these dear neighbors without distinction.
The sisters dedicated themselves to the "practice of all the spiritual and corporal works of mercy of which woman is capable and which will most benefit the dear neighbor." They were neither educated nor wealthy, but worked to support themselves by making lace and taught this skill to local women living in destitution.
Established by the CSJs in 1925, Mount Saint Mary’s University welcomes students of all faiths, nurturing them in their intellectual and spiritual growth. As a Roman Catholic institution, the Mount is part of the oldest university tradition in the world. The fleur-de-lis symbols of France in the College’s academic seal represent the sisters.
The University's first president was Mother Margaret Mary Brady, CSJ. She was the province's superior in 1925 and she responded to Bishop Cantwell's request to establish a Catholic women's college in Los Angeles. At the time of its founding, Mount St. Mary’s was housed temporarily at St. Mary’s Academy at Slauson and Crenshaw. Two years later, in 1928, the Sisters purchased 36 acres from Rodeo Land and Water Company at $4,500 per acre. The new site stretched among the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains, 1,100 feet above sea level, overlooking Los Angeles and 40 miles of Pacific Ocean.
The College graduated its first students in 1929 at the new Chalon Campus. Twenty years later, the forward-thinking CSJs made an additional purchase that brought the Chalon Campus to its present 56 acres of land.
In 1962, the University expanded to its second campus on the Doheny Estate near downtown Los Angeles. The Doheny Campus complements the educational opportunities of the original Chalon Campus in West Los Angeles by offering numerous graduate programs; a "Weekend College" for working adults who want to earn a baccalaureate degree; a two-year, associate in arts program; and education certificate programs.
Since its founding, the University has graduated more than 17,000 students. The current student body is approximately 2,900.