St Andrews' historical links with the United States predate the country's independence.

One of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence attended (but did not graduate from) St Andrews.

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The university was founded in 1410 when a group of Augustinian clergy, driven from the University of Paris by the Avignon schism and from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge by the Anglo-Scottish Wars, formed a society of higher learning in St Andrews, which offered courses of lectures in divinity, logic, philosophy, and law.

A charter of privilege was bestowed upon the society of masters and scholars by the Bishop of St Andrews, Henry Wardlaw, on 28 February 1411.

At this time, the majority of the teaching was of a religious nature and was conducted by clerics associated with the cathedral.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, the university had mixed fortunes and was often beset by civil and religious disturbances.

Recent alumni include the former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond; former Secretary of State for Defence Michael Fallon; HM British Ambassador to China Barbara Woodward; United States Ambassador to Hungary Colleen Bell; Olympic cycling gold medalist Chris Hoy; and royals Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.

Six Nobel Laureates are among St Andrews' alumni and former staff: two in Chemistry and Physiology or Medicine, and one each in Peace and Literature.

The University of St Andrews (informally known as St Andrews University or simply St Andrews; abbreviated as St And, from the Latin Sancti Andreae, in post-nominals) is a British public research university in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland.

It is the oldest of the four ancient universities of Scotland and the third oldest university in the English-speaking world (following Oxford and Cambridge Universities).

James Wilson was one of six original justices appointed by George Washington to the Supreme Court of the United States and founder of the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Other prominent American figures associated with St Andrews include Scottish American industrialist Andrew Carnegie, who was elected Rector in 1901 and whose name is given to the prestigious Carnegie Scholarship, and Edward Harkness, an American philanthropist who in 1930 provided for the construction of St Salvator's Hall.

In 1876, the University Senate decided to allow women to receive an education at St Andrews at a level roughly equal to the Master of Arts degree that men were able to take at the time. She entered the university in 1892, making St Andrews the first university in Scotland to admit female undergraduates on the same level as men.