Two institutions were united in 1932 to form Alderson Broaddus University. Each of the institutions passed on a rich Christian heritage. The older of the two, Broaddus University, was founded in Winchester, Virginia in 1871 by Edward Jefferson Willis, a Baptist minister who named the new college after Rev. William Francis Ferguson Broaddus, a prominent Baptist minister at the time of the Civil War. In response to economic hard times, Broaddus University was moved across the Alleghenies to Clarksburg, West Virginia, in 1876. The college was moved again to the small town of Philippi, West Virginia in 1901.
The other institution, Alderson Academy and Junior College, was founded in Alderson, West Virginia in 1901 by Emma Alderson, a committed Baptist laywoman. As the years passed, Broaddus became a junior college, then a senior college, and Alderson Academy added junior college status. Financial hardship in the late 1920's led to the decision to merge the two colleges, both of which shared a common identity as Baptist and liberal arts institutions. Alderson Broaddus University derives its hyphenated name from the joining of these two institutions.
Since its founding Alderson Broaddus has been committed to a strong liberal arts education. As such, the College seeks to imbue students with an appreciation of literature and the arts, Christian faith, music and the sciences. In more recent times the College has focused on developing programs in the natural and applied sciences as well. In 1945, Alderson Broaddus developed the first four-year nursing and the first radiologic technology programs in West Virginia. In 1968, the College pioneered the nation's first four-year physician assistant program, an innovation that has had enormous influence on the development of the physician assistant profession nationwide. From this program emerged in 1991 the College's first graduate degree offering, the Physician Assistant Master's program. Academic innovation is an enduring feature of AB.
Alderson Broaddus University is a health-related and professional educational institution firmly rooted in the liberal arts. Alderson Broaddus University is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA, and the West Virginia Baptist Convention, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.