Founded in 1899, Elizabethtown College is one of many higher learning institutions founded in the 19th century by churches or church members interested in the educational advancement of their denominational membership. The College was founded by interested members of the Church of the Brethren in response to an initiative by the Reverend Jacob G. Francis. Francis advocated for Elizabethtown because of the proximity to the railways (which holds true to this day as an Amtrak station is currently there). First classes for the new college were held on Nov. 13, 1900, in the Heisey Building in downtown Elizabethtown. During its first two decades, the College operated as an academy, offering a limited curriculum centering on four-year teaching degrees and high school type classes.
In 1921, the Pennsylvania Department of Public Instruction accredited the College, and authorized its first baccalaureate degrees in arts and sciences. Later, in 1928, the College was approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court for pre-law education. In 1948, Elizabethtown College became accredited by the Middle States Association and in 1949 by the American Council of Education. Throughout this period, the college grew considerably as it built Fairview Hall, Gibble Science Building, the Alumni Auditorium and Zug Memorial Library.
James B. Hoover Center for Business opened in August 2006 and is named for 1975 Elizabethtown College graduate James B. Hoover. The Hoover Center houses the College's business program, the Edward R. Murphy Center and the S. Dale High Center for Family Business.
Masters Center for Science, Math, and Engineering opened in October 2007 and is named for its benefactor, Frank M. Masters, Jr. The Masters Center encompasses Esbenshade and Musser halls (see below) and Lyet wing. It houses the College's science, mathematics, and engineering programs.
Esbenshade Hall opened in 1967. Esbenshade houses science facilities as well as Gibble Auditorium, which holds both classes and campus events.
Musser Hall opened in 1983 and houses the College's chemistry program.
Nicarry Hall opened in 1972 and is named for Wayne Nicarry. It houses classrooms and faculty offices for the humanities.
Steinman Center opened in 1928. Originally the Gibble Science Hall, the Steinman Center, named for the Steinman Foundation of Lancaster, Pa., was renovated in 1985 to house communications and arts programs.
Wenger Center opened in 1921. Originally a residential facility named the Fairview Apartments, Wenger houses some of the College's humanities programs.
Zug Hall opened in 1950. Originally Zug Memorial Library, it now houses the College's fine and performing arts programs, Hess art gallery and administrative offices.
Alpha Hall opened in 1901 and was the first building erected on the College's campus. Alpha is the College's administrative center, housing the offices of the president, provost, dean of the faculty, vice president of administration, vice president of finance, vice president of institutional advancement, human resources, college relations and the development office.
Brossman Commons opened in 2002. Brossman is a combination of the Annenberg Center and Baugher Student Center opened in 1992 and 1962, respectively. A new structure was built between these two buildings, while they were refurbished. The center houses a bookstore, post office, black box theater, dining hall, convenience store, performance spaces, student support offices and the Bird Cage—a game room.
High Library opened in 1990. The Library is 54,230 square feet and has the capability to house 250,000 volumes.
Leffler Chapel and Performance Center opened in 1995. A gift from Carlos R. and Georgiana F. Leffler, the Chapel is home to the 844-seat Musser Auditorium, the Lyet Gallery and the McCormick Gallery exhibition space.
Leffler House opened in 1956 and currently houses the admissions office.
Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies is named for Galen S. Young D.O. and Jessie M. Young, and opened in 1989. The Center includes the Bucher Meetinghouse, a small book shop, offices, a research room and classroom.
Alumni Courts are six hard-true tennis courts  used by the men's and women's tennis teams.
Alumni Pool is home to the men's and women's swim teams.
Ira R. Herr Field was opened in 1970 and is the home field for men's and women's soccer. It is named for Ira R. Herr, who virtually touched every part of the College's athletics program. The Field has been the site of four NCAA Division III Final Fours and ten other NCAA tournaments. 
Kevin Scott Boyd Memorial Stadium is the home field for baseball and named in honor of Kevin Scott Boyd who played for the Blue Jays from 1996 to 1998.
The Nest is home field for the softball team.
Thompson Gymnasium opened in 1970 and is home to the women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball, and wrestling teams.
Wolf Field opened in 2002 and is the home field for field hockey, and men's and women's lacrosse.
Brinser Residence Hall opened in 1965 and is named for David E. & Sadie M. Brinser
Founders Residence Hall opened in 1971 and is dedicated to four founders: Samuel H. Hertzler, G.N. Falkenstein, I.N.H. Beahm, and Jesse C. Ziegler.
Hackman Apartments consists of two different buildings: Hackman North and Hackman South which opened in 2000 and 2002, respectively. The Apartments are named for Vera H. Hackman, a 1925 graduate of Elizabethtown College who later served as Dean of Women at the College.
Myer Residence Hall opened in 1957 and is named for Elizabeth Myer. The building is linked to the College's Print Services and Susquehanna Room where receptions and events are held.
Ober Residence Hall opened in 1960 and is named for H. K. Ober.
Royer Residence Hall opened in 1962 and is named for B. Mary Royer.
Schlosser Residence Hall opened in 1965 and is named for R. W. Schlosser.
Schreiber Quadrangle opened in 1992 and is named for V. Lester Schreiber.
Living Learning Communities (LLC) are located within the residential living buildings. Students either in a common related course or committed to a specific theme live together on the same floor for the academic year.
Student-Directed Living Communities (SDLC) are housing opportunities within the College-owned homes along the perimeter of the campus. They offer small groups of upper class students the opportunity to create a unique, self-directed living environment, centered on a common theme, issue, or interest through which the group is expected to share and enrich the campus community.
The College maintains 19 academic departments, offering 53 majors and 90+ minors and concentrations, with a core curriculum emphasizing the arts, humanities and sciences. Through this curriculum, it develops interpersonal communication, writing, creative thinking and problem-solving skills, which lead to degrees in liberal arts, fine and performing arts, science and engineering, business, health and social services, and education.
Established in 1999, the Elizabethtown College Honors Program is a member of the National Collegiate Honors Council. The Honors Program was founded with an endowment gift from The Hershey Company and is supported in part through this endowment.
The Honors Program’s mission is to provide enhanced learning opportunities for students who have excellent academic records, superior academic abilities, intellectual promise, and demonstrated initiative. The Honors Program promotes high standards of scholarship, leadership, and service among those students selected for the program.
The program has continued to grow and maintains an enrollment of approximately 10 percent of the student body.
In the spring of 2005, the Hershey Foods Company changed its name and subsequently, the program was renamed to the Elizabethtown College Honors Program, sponsored by The Hershey Company.
The Office of Student Activities (OSA) serves as a co-curricular educator and facilitator in creating environments that call for participation and involvement in the campus community. Through the programming of student traditions, such as T.G.I.S. and Student Involvement Fairs, students are engaged in social experiences. Additionally, the Office of Student Activities serves as the primary resource to student groups on campus striving to enhance their individual contributions to the college community through publicity and organizational support. It also oversees The Body Shop, the on-campus fitness center.
Elizabethtown offers student-run media that include a newspaper—The Etownian; a literary magazine—Fine Print; a television station—ECTV-40; a radio station—WWEC 88.3 FM; and a yearbook—the Conestogan. As a student newspaper for small schools, the Etownian was ranked First Place with Special Merit recognition from the American Scholastic Press Association in 2010. It is entirely written and edited by students and is distributed weekly on Thursdays, throughout the academic year.
Elizabethtown is affiliated with the Brethren Colleges Abroad (BCA) program which allows students to study abroad for an academic semester. In addition to BCA, the college offers multiple internship and study abroad opportunities through other affiliates.
The students of Elizabethtown College can voice concerns through the Elizabethtown College Student Senate. The Student Senate is composed of an Executive Cabinet including: president, vice president, treasurer, secretary, judicial chair, marketing chair and elections chair. It also has four officers and eight representatives per class. The Dean of Student Life acts as advisor to the organization and general elections are held each year.
Elizabethtown College is a member of NCAADivision III, and the Landmark Conference. Although Elizabethtown College was founded in 1899, it was not until 1928 that the first officially sanctioned intercollegiate athletic contest was held.  In April 2013, the College accepted the invitation to join the Landmark Conference effective July 1, 2014.
Track and field was established in 1929, but disappeared quickly. It was reestablished in 1975, but the women's team ended because of a lack of participation in 1981. The team was brought back in 1998, but the College did not begin competing again until 2000.
Volleyball started play in 1978
* - (All years given are when the teams became varsity sports)
Elizabethtown's motto is "Educate for Service." Over 600 students, alumni, faculty and administrators participate annually in the Into the Streets service program every October in the Elizabethtown community.