Founded in 1881 by the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, UIW provides its students with 40 majors, including nuclear medicine, fashion management and music therapy. UIW's average class size is 25. The school went co-ed in 1970 and was recognized as a university in 1996. UIW is a Charter Member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities; it qualifies as a Hispanic-serving institution (HSI) under federal guidelines. The waters of the San Antonio River flow through the campus.
UIW is a leader in international studies. UIW's 5,217 students can leave its 110-acre San Antonio campus to study abroad in any of nearly 100 "sister schools" in 34 countries, spending a semester or longer in countries such as China, Taiwan, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, Chile, Australia, Peru, Italy, New Zealand, Brazil, England, France and Thailand.