Notre Dame is consistently recognized as one of the top universities in the world, in particular for its undergraduate education. Undergraduate students are organized into six colleges, Arts and Letters, Science, Engineering, Business, Architecture and Global Affairs. The School of Architecture is known for teaching New Classical Architecture and for awarding the globally renowned annual Driehaus Architecture Prize. The university offers over 50 foreign study abroad yearlong programs and over 15 summer programs. Notre Dame's graduate program has more than 50 master, doctoral and professional degree programs offered by the five schools, with the addition of the Notre Dame Law School and a MD-PhD program offered in combination with IU medical School. It maintains a system of libraries, cultural venues, artistic and scientific museums, including the Hesburgh Library and the Snite Museum of Art. The majority of the university's 8,000 undergraduates live on campus in one of 31 residence halls, each with its own traditions, legacies, events, and intramural sports teams. The university counts approximately 134,000 alumni, considered among the strongest alumni networks among U.S. colleges.
The university's athletic teams are members of the NCAA Division I and are known collectively as the Fighting Irish. Notre Dame is known for its football team, which contributed to its rise to prominence on the national stage in the early 20th century; the team an Independent with no conference affiliation, has accumulated eleven consensus national championships, seven Heisman Trophy winners, 62 members in the College Football Hall of Fame, and 13 members in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Other ND sport teams, chiefly in the Atlantic Coast Conference, have accumulated 17 national championships. The Notre Dame Victory March is often regarded as one of the most famous and recognizable collegiate fight songs.
Started as a small all-male institution in 1842 and charter in 1844, Notre Dame reached international fame at the beginning of the 20th century, aided by the success of its football team under the guidance of coach Knute Rockne. Major improvements to the university occurred during the administration of the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh between 1952 and 1987 as Hesburgh's administration greatly increased the university's resources, academic programs, and reputation and first enrolled women undergraduates in 1972. Ever since, the University has seen steady growth, and under the leadership of the next two presidents, Rev. Malloy and Rev. Jenkins, many infrastructure and research expansions have been completed. Notre Dame's growth has continued in the 21st century, and it currently possesses one of the largest endowments of any U.S. university, at $11.8 billion.
In 1842, the Bishop of Vincennes, Célestine Guynemer de la Hailandière, offered land to Father Edward Sorin of the Congregation of Holy Cross, on the condition that he build a college in two years. Fr. Sorin arrived on the site with eight Holy Cross brothers from France and Ireland on November 26, 1842, and began the school using Father Stephen Badin's old log chapel. He soon erected additional buildings, including the Old College, the first church, and the first main building. They immediately acquired two students and set about building additions to the campus.
Notre Dame began as a primary and secondary school, but soon received its official college charter from the Indiana General Assembly on January 15, 1844. Under the charter the school is officially named the University of Notre Dame du Lac (University of Our Lady of the Lake). Because the university was originally only for male students, the female-only Saint Mary's College was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross near Notre Dame in 1844.