Laureate of Arts was the first degree offered by Shimer College, beginning in 1862.

Other 19th-century seminaries, particularly women's seminaries, offered a degree by this name, and/or "Laureate of Science." It was generally considered a terminal degree. This may be why there were no male recipients of the degree even during the period when the Seminary admitted male students, as the male students were generally expected to continue their education at colleges in the east.

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