Keck Graduate Institute

The Claremont Colleges were formally established in 1925 under the direction of James Blaisdell, then President of Pomona College. In their constitution was a commitment to “found and develop new colleges and educational institutions or programs” as needs were identified and resources were made available.

Henry E Riggs

Seventy-two years later, Henry E. Riggs, then President of Harvey Mudd College, identified the need that would lead to the founding of KGI, the seventh and newest member of The Claremont Colleges. The need was simple: we need scientists and engineers who can help translate basic scientific discoveries into practical applications that will improve people’s health.

In 1997, through a generous $50 million grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation, Keck Graduate Institute was born. Riggs became KGI’s founding President and led the institution through its first seven years.

KGI president Sheldon SchusterFollowing in Riggs’ footsteps, in July 2003, Sheldon Schuster, PhD became KGI’s second president. Schuster, a biochemist with degrees from UC Davis and Arizona State University, joined KGI after serving as a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, interim assistant vice president for research and graduate education, and director of the Biotechnology Program at the University of Florida, Gainsville.

In July, 2024, Mohamed Abousalem became KGI’s third president after having served as the Vice President for Research and Innovation at San José State University. Prior to SJSU, Abousalem served as the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Industry Alliances and Technology Commercialization at the University of California, Santa Cruz and as an executive for organizations in Silicon Valley and Canada.

KGI represents The Claremont Colleges’ first entry into graduate-level, application-based scientific research and education. It remains the only graduate institute in the country with this sole focus.


  • July 10, 1997: W.M. Keck Foundation provides KGI with a $50 million founding grant
  • August 1, 2000: Inaugural class enrolls in Master of Bioscience program while KGI moves offices from 1263 N. Dartmouth Ave. to 535 Watson Dr.
  • May 19, 2002: KGI celebrates its first commencement with 28 graduates.
  • July 15, 2003: Founding president Hank Riggs retires, and Sheldon Schuster becomes president.
  • October 15, 2005: Alumni Patio dedication ceremony
  • August 14, 2006: Ph.D. in Applied Life Sciences program begins as overall enrollment increases to 68.
  • May 12, 2007: KGI celebrates its 10th anniversary.
  • August 17, 2009: Postdoctoral Professional Master’s program begins with its first cohort.
  • July 1, 2010: KGI succeeds in raising a match of $30 million, solidifying its position as a pioneer in graduate education. The W.M. Keck Foundation awarded KGI a $20 million challenge grant in 2004, and KGI completed the match one year ahead of schedule.
  • August 16, 2010: The Postbaccalaureate Premedical Certificate program starts with its first group of students.
  • January 6, 2014: KGI partners with Biocon to launch the Biocon Academy’s 16-week certificate program.
  • August 23, 2014: School of Pharmacy celebrates its first White Coat Ceremony
    September 8, 2014: Founding class of the Minerva Schools at KGI begins classes.
  • August 15, 2016: Master of Engineering in Biopharmaceutical Processing program begins as overall enrollment increases to 517.
  • November 15, 2016: KGI celebrates the ribbon cutting of the 1 North Indian Hill Blvd. building that includes administration offices and student collaboration space.
  • March 20, 2017: KGI celebrates the ribbon cutting of the KGI Cafe, a new two-story campus hub in Building 517.
  • May 11, 2017: KGI breaks ground on the school’s first housing complex, a 419-bed facility.
  • July 1, 2017: KGI begins a year-long celebration of the Institute’s 20th anniversary.
  • July 30, 2018: KGI announced plans for a new School of Community Medicine to meet the increasing demand for primary care physicians in Southern California.
  • August 22, 2018: Unveiling a new brand and logo, KGI celebrated its innovation and collaboration that lead to career pathways within healthcare and the applied life sciences.
  • August 23, 2018: New master’s programs in genetic counseling and genomic data analytics welcome their first cohorts to KGI together with students in the new Master of Science in Medical Device Engineering program.
  • October 2, 2019: The Oasis KGI Commons ribbon cutting celebrated KGI’s shift to a residential campus.
  • November 16, 2020: KGI announced plans for an Occupational Therapy Doctorate program.
  • March 16, 2020: KGI announced plans to add a The Chan Family Master of Science in PA Studies (MSPA) program.
  • May 10, 2021: KGI launches the Certificate in Applied Genomics to train life science professionals in the latest genomic developments.
  • March 9, 2022: KGI Building 555 opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
  • October 7, 2022: KGI celebrates its 25th Anniversary at a special Founder’s Day event.
  • July 1, 2024: President Sheldon Schuster retires, and Mohamed Abousalem becomes president.