Touro College is an independent institution of higher education under Jewish auspices, established to perpetuate and enrich the Jewish heritage and to support Jewish continuity, as well as to serve the general community in keeping with the historic Jewish commitment to the transmission of knowledge, social justice, and compassionate concern for, and service to, society.

Touro College sprang from a study Dr. Lander conducted for the University of Notre Dame in the late 1960s. Asked to determine the causes of the unrest that was roiling college campuses nationwide, he found that many leaders of the revolts were Jews who felt adrift and marginalized in American college culture. Addressing a leadership conference of the Union of Jewish Congregations of America in 1969, Dr. Lander called the modern campus a “crisis area for Jewish survival,” as reported by The New York Times. In response, he founded Touro College, which began in a United States government surplus building on 44th Street, just west of Fifth Avenue. The college was named for Isaac Touro and his son Judah, Jewish leaders in Colonial America.

Its current headquarters are at 500 Seventh Avenue, in the heart of midtown Manhattan. Touro offers undergraduate and graduate programs in Jewish studies and liberal arts and sciences, serving the diverse components of the Jewish community. In consonance with the universal aspect of its mission, the college provides neighborhood-based programs for underserved members of the community, and offers professional and graduate programs in such areas as education, law, medicine, pharmacy, the allied health sciences, social work, and business, as well as mission-driven programs at campuses abroad. Touro College was chartered by the Board of Regents of the State of New York in June 1970.

The College opened with a class of 35 Liberal Arts and Sciences students in the fall of 1971. Since 1971, the College has continued to demonstrate dynamic growth and now enrolls over 19,000 students per year in a broad range of disciplines, including business, law, social work, Jewish studies, health sciences and technology. 7 A Women’s Division was added to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences in 1974. In the late 1970s, a Flatbush division was established, moving into its current facility in Brooklyn in 1995. In 2000, a new Lander College for Men was established in Queens. The College also organized related institutions in Israel and Russia. The School for Lifelong Education, offering a non-traditional contract-learning-based program, was organized in 1989. The Institute for Professional Studies (IPS) was established in 1999 to provide higher education with practical applications for the Chasidic community. Schools of general studies, law and health sciences were also organized; in the 1980s, The Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center opened, a graduate school of education and psychology was founded, and an international school of business was established.

In 1985, a school for new Americans was created to serve recent immigrants to the United States, which in 2002 merged with the School of General Studies to create the New York School of Career and Applied Studies (NYSCAS). In 1997 and 1999, respectively, Touro University California (TUC) and Touro University International (TUI, also based in California) added to the professional options available to Touro students. TUC includes colleges of osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, health sciences and education. In 2004, Touro University Nevada opened in Henderson, Nevada with colleges of osteopathic medicine, including a School of Physician Assistant Studies, and health and human services, which encompasses schools of nursing, occupational therapy and education. Touro College Berlin - which offers both Jewish studies and professional courses, opened in 2003. Touro College Los Angeles, a liberal arts college modeled after the program of the Lander Colleges, opened in 2005 in West Hollywood, California. Touro College South, based in Miami Beach, Florida, opened in 2006. Also in 2006, Touro opened graduate schools of social work and technology. From 2007 to 2009 the College of Osteopathic Medicine and the College of Pharmacy opened in Harlem. Touro University Worldwide was formed to offer professional degree programs online, and in 2011 New York Medical College, in Valhalla, NY, became part of the Touro family.