North Carolina State University

North Carolina State University – also called NCSU – was founded in 1887 as a land-grant college called the “North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts”. It became the “North Carolina State College of Agriculture and Engineering” in 1917, and then the “University of North Carolina” in 1931, after merging with NC State and the Women’s College. 

In the beginning, it offered education in Engineering and Mechanics, Agriculture, Military Tactics and the Liberal Arts. A School of Architecture and Landscape Design was added in 1947, as was a School of Education in 1948, and a School of Forestry in 1950. The 1970s saw the addition of Schools of Social Sciences and of Humanities. 

North Carolina State University today has three sub-campuses in Raleigh (North, Central and South Campuses) as well as nearby Centennial Camus. The Centennial Biomedical Campus and a presence in the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis. It boasts more than 35,000 students (more than 10,000 of whom are post-graduate students.

Tufts University

Tufts University was founded by the Universalist Church in the 1840s on 20 acres of land donated by businessman Charles Tufts, but many notables including P.T. Barnum are counted as founders. It was officially chartered in 1852. It boasts the US’s oldest graduate school of international relations. 

By 1954 the school had lost its original religious affiliation, and had reinvented itself as Tufts University. By the 1970s it had become a major research university in its own right, known for its extensive internationalisation and its dedication to sending its students to study abroad. In fact, offers joint undergraduate degrees with universities in London, Oxford, Paris and throughout New England. 

Tufts University today occupies four main campuses – three in the Boston Metropolitan Area and one in the French Alps. It is divided into ten schools – eight graduate divisions and 2 undergraduate divisions. It boasts nearly 12,000 students, divided almost evenly between undergraduates and graduates students, with a slight majority of grad students.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University – often called simply ASU – began in 1886. As this was 30 years before Arizona existed as a state, it was called the Territorial Normal School at the time. In its first incarnation, it was a four classroom building in the city of Tempe, and a total of 33 students its first year. Its purpose was to train the teachers who would servet he growing population of the Arizona Territory. 

In time the name changed from Tempe Normal School of Arizona, Tempe Normal School, Tempe State Teacher’s College, and Arizona State Teachers College to Arizona State College, and finally Arizona State University in 1958. 

Arizona State University today has 17 colleges and occupies five campuses scattered throughout the Phoenix Metropolitan Area as well as 4 more throughout the state of Arizona outside Phoenix. With more than 90,000 students attending traditional classes and nearly another 40,000 taking online classes, it is one of the largest public universities in the nation. 

University of Notre Dame

The University of Notre Dame du Lac (today called simply Notre Dame or ND) was founded by a Catholic group called the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1842, but only chartered in 1844. At the time it was an all-male institution, and the women’s Saint Mary’s College was founded by a different Catholic order nearby in the same year.

By 1883, the university had expanded beyond its role as a religious training university, having added a science program as well as a law school. By the 1920s it was well on its way to being a modern research university, and had awarded degrees to women as early as 1917 (though admission of women was rare until the early 1970s). By 1921 it had 5 separate colleges as well, and had moves to a modern system of elective classes.

The University of Notre Dame today remains a private Catholic university. It is a major research centre, as well as one of the best regarded undergraduate schools in the nation.

Washington University in St Louis

Washington University (Not associated with the state of Washington or Washington DC) was chartered in 1853 by the Missouri General Assembly. Initially it was called the Washington Institute after General and President George Washington, but had its name changed to Washington University in 1856. The tag ‘in St Louis’ was added more than 100 years later, to avoid confusion with other prestigious schools like Washington State University, George Washington University and the University of Washington.

Washington University in St Louis today is a private research university has four campuses – the Main Campus in St Louis County, Missouri, the West Campus in Clayton, Missouri. The North Campus in St Louis, Missouri and the Medical Campus, also in St Louis. Collectively, they are home to more than 15,000 students, nearly 4000 academic staff and some 12,000 administrative staff.

The school sees itself as a single community where people work together to support each other, and to achieve both their individual and collective goals.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University was founded in 1873 in Nashville, Alabama. Its initial funding came from New York multimillionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt in hopes of establishing closer cultural and commercial ties between the North and South of the country.

Construction began on what was initially called The Central University of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, in 1874. The school was renamed after Vanderbilt following his death in 1877. The school was controlled by the Methodist Episcopal Church until 1914, when control was given over to a secular Board of Trust entirely. Nonetheless, it still operates under its original 1872 charter, as amended in 1873.

The university began establishing an international reputation for research in the 1950s, and has gone from strength to strength, growing steadily in size and influence for the last 70 years.

Vanderbilt University today regularly ranks among the top research universities in the United States, and enrols more than 13,000 students every year. It has four undergraduate schools and six at the graduate or professional level.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia was originally founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 just outside Charlottesville Virginia. It was first known as simply Central College, and was unusual for its time in that it incorporated a set of 8 independent schools – Moral Philosophy, Natural Philosophy, Modern Languages, Ancient Languages, Chemistry, Mathematics, Law and Medicine.

The University of Virginia was essentially non-sectarian from the very beginning. It began admitting female students in the 19890s, and black students in the 1950s, with full integration being achieved by the 1960s.

The University of Virginia today – more commonly called U.Va or UVA – is a major US research university, and the flagship of the University of Virginia system. Its endowment is just under $10 billion, and its annual budget tops $1.3 billion. It boasts more than 24,000 students (more than 16,000 undergraduates and nearly 8,000 postgraduates), and more than 2000 academic staff. Its 200 year old, 1,682 acre main campus is a World Heritage site.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California – informally USC – began in the 1870s, when the city of Los Angeles was much more the ‘old west frontier outmost’ than today’s world famous metropolis. The university finally welcomed some 53 students in 1880, a time when what would become ‘LA’ still lacked paved streets or an organised fire department.

In the last 150 years or so, the school has grown dramatically. It is a major research university, and offers degrees in Medicine, Pharmacy, Occupational Therapy, Social Work, Engineering, Business, Law and nearly anything else you would expect from one of the most prominent public universities in the nation.

The University of Southern California today is home to more than 47,000 students taught by just under 5,000 full time faculty. It is the largest private employer in all of Los Angeles today. Los Angeles has of course grown as well, becoming one of the world’s largest, richest and most visible cities.

University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota was created in 1851, and has since become the flagship campus of the University of Minnesota system. It has some 50,000 students at any one time, comprising the 6th largest student body for any United States university.

The University of Minnesota is composed of 19 separate academic units:

  • School of Public Health
  • School of Nursing
  • School of Dentistry
  •   Medical School
  • Law School
  • Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs
  • Graduate School
  • Extension
  • College of Veterinary Medicine
  • College of Science and Engineering
  • College of Pharmacy
  • College of Liberal Arts
  • College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
  • College of Education and Human Development
  • College of Design
  • College of Continuing and Professional Studies
  • College of Biological Sciences
  • Center for Allied Health Programs
  • Carlson School of Management

In addition, the university boasts more than 300 research centres, institutes and outreach facilities, ranging from public policy to life science, and was instrumental in LIGO’s discovery of gravitational waves in 2016.

University of Maryland,College Park

The University of Maryland, College Park is now the flagship school of the University of Maryland system, but it got its start in 1856 as the Maryland Agricultural College. It became one of the nation’s first Land Grant Colleges in 1864, and though it went bankrupt due to the disruptions of the Civil War it reformed as a state institution in 1866.

In 1916, it became Maryland State College. It was brought into the University of Maryland system in 1920, at the same time it started offering PhD degrees. It became accredited by the Association of American Universities in 1925.

The University of Maryland, College Park today is the largest university in the state of Maryland, but also in the entire Washington Metropolitan Area. It has more than 41,000 students hailing form more than 123 countries, and has more than 360,000 alumni forming a worldwide network. It has recently received more than $1 billion in private donations, and opened a range of research parks and institutions in the last 15 years alone.