Silliman University was founded on August 28, 1901 as Silliman Institute by Protestant missionaries under the Board of Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. Originally established as an elementary school for boys, operations for the institute started through an initial $10,000 donation given by a businessman and Christian philanthropist of Cohoes, New York named Dr. Horace Brinsmade Silliman, who wanted to establish an industrial school using the Hampton Institute of Virginia model.
Today, the university comprises ten colleges, five schools, and three institutes, enrolling over 9,600 students from the Philippines and from at least 30 foreign countries. It is registered as a National Landmark by the National Historical Institute and is one of few private higher education institutions in the Philippines that have been granted full autonomous status by the Commission on Higher Education. It is also a founding member of the Association of Christian Universities and Colleges in Asia (ACUCA) and one of the recognized institutions in the U.S. Veterans Administration's list of approved educational institutions. In 2014, the university ranked 47th as the most beautiful Christian university campus around the world.
Silliman University offers programs in the early childhood, elementary, secondary, undergraduate and graduate levels. Programs in the undergraduate and graduate levels cover disciplines such as Arts, Accountancy, Agriculture, Architecture, Business Administration, Engineering, English, Filipino, Information Technology, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Education, Economics, Fine Arts, Foreign Languages, Journalism, Marine Sciences, Nutrition, Music, Physics, Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, and Public Administration. In addition to its academic undertakings, the university is involved in research and community extension projects. Silliman's stature in the fields of environmental and marine sciences has led to its being designated by the USAID as a Center of Excellence in Coastal Resources Management.