Fairfield Medical College developed out of the Medical School of Fairfield Academy, whose instructors taught several subjects in the areas of medicine, pharmacy, and surgery. However, the Academy itself did not grant medical degrees. To be able to respond to the demand for an actual medical degree, Fairfield Medical College was incorporated by Lyman Spalding, Westel Willoughby, and James Hadley in 1812. A charter was granted under the formal name, The College of Physicians & Surgeons of the Western District of New York, located in Herkimer County.
The medical college closed in 1841. Though professors began teaching at Geneva Medical College, the institution which eventually became Upstate Medical University. Former students of Fairfield Medical College became faculty members of Syracuse University Medical College, demonstrating another connection between the two schools.