The historically all-female Barnard College joined other prominent women's colleges in adopting an admissions policy welcoming transgender women.

"Barnard will consider for admission those applicants who consistently live and identify as women, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth," the college announced on its website, noting that the policy was discussed and approved this week after a year of research, forums and debate.

"We will also continue to use gendered language that reflects our identity as a women's college," according to the website.

The policy doesn't affect students who transition while they are at the college. Barnard said it will offer individualized "guidance and support" to students who may feel that "Barnard, as a women's college, no longer offers an appropriate educational environment."

"We applaud Barnard's new transgender inclusive admissions policy which continues the growing trend toward transgender inclusivity," Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said in an emailed statement.

"All academically qualified women applying for college should have the same chance to vie for admission to prestigious institutions like Barnard, including transgender women. This is a very positive development in academia and adds to our nation's continued momentum in transgender rights," Silverman added.

Barnard, a seven-sisters college founded in 1889, is on trend: Last year, Mills College in Oakland, CA, became the first all-female U.S. college to adopt a policy explicitly welcoming transgender students. Mt. Holyoke in South Hadley, MA, followed its example shortly after. This May, the board of trustees voted to clarify the undergraduate admission policy of Smith College to include self-identified transgender women.

Barnard's new policy goes into effect for applicants applying for admission in the fall of 2016 for the Class of 2020.