State and Land-Grant Universities: Opportunities and Choices

From the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges

America's state and land-grant universities offer an environment that can match the needs and interests of every type of student. As the people's universities, these institutions offer access and opportunity to millions of Americans--opening doors to a better life for many who might otherwise be denied a college education. Since 1862, the nation's state and land-grant universities have played a pivotal role in the development of our democratic society. These institutions are committed to providing students with challenging opportunities that enrich both their professional and personal lives and to offering a curriculum that provides both a liberal arts and a particular education. In short, our public universities are producing the leaders of tomorrow.

Access and Opportunity for All

  • A state and land-grant university exists in every state and territory of the United States, as well as in the district of Columbia.
  • In 1993-94, public universities enrolled one-half of all full-time students and produced two-thirds of all bachelor's degrees.
  • Approximately one-half of the members of the U.S. Congress in the recent past and one-half of the chief executive officers of America's 500 largest corporations were educated at public universities.

A Diverse Campus Culture

Diversity in every aspect of student life--social, cultural, and academic--is one of the greatest strengths of public universities. Students at these institutions can:

  • Choose from a broad spectrum of elective courses while focusing on one major discipline.
  • Make friends with people from all over the United States and around the world in a stimulating environment that offers abundant opportunities to explore other cultures and broaden intellectual horizons.
  • Select from a variety of living arrangements--dormitories; off-campus apartments; group houses; fraternities and sororities; and even such unique situations as "language houses," in which everyone speaks a foreign language and lives and learns in that culture.
  • Participate in an array of social activities and situations, including clubs, choruses, theaters, bands, school newspapers, radio broadcasting, concerts, dances, and both intercollegiate and intramural sports.

More Value for Money Spent

Low tuition costs are a major benefit of attending a public college or university, and approximately one-half of the students at public universities receive some financial aid. A variety of assistance is available, including state and private scholarships, grants, loans, internships, and work-study programs.

  • The average in-state resident undergraduate tuition (including fees) at 4-year colleges and universities in the fall of 1996 was $2,966 per year.
  • The average nonresident undergraduate tuition (including fees) at 4-year colleges and universities in the fall of 1996 was $8,253--a more economical cost than that of most private institutions.

Faculty Leaders in Every Field

From Fulbright Scholars and Nobel Prize winners to accomplished artists and renowned writers, public university faculty are leaders in their disciplines. Full-time faculty spend the majority of their time teaching or engaged in research and scholarship activities. Research conducted at state and land-grant universities has touched the lives of almost every American by improving the environment, creating cleaner energy resources, reducing cleaner energy resources, reducing pollution, and promoting better health and human development. Many of these research projects are translated into the classroom environment, giving undergraduate students opportunities to work with great scholars.

Public university faculty are highly qualified:

  • In 1992, 7 in 10 (71 percent) public university faculty members had attained a doctoral degree.
  • Almost three-fifths (58 percent) of the institutions with the largest number of Fulbright Scholars in 1994-95 were public institutions.
  • About one-half of the 60 new members elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1996 hailed from public universities.
  • In 1992, almost one in four (23 percent) faculty members were women; approximately one in eight (12 percent) were persons of color.

State-of-the-Art Resources

Public university campuses offer students high-quality resources and facilities for both learning and socializing. On the typical campus, students have access to large libraries and many major research centers; computer; modern athletic fields and gymnasiums; laboratories with cutting-edge equipment; student union buildings with eateries, meeting rooms, and lounges; and art galleries, theaters, and concert halls.

A Commitment to Building a Better Society

Public universities are committed to working with urban and rural, local and regional, state and national leaders in every field to help build a better society for America and the world. This commitment leads public higher education to prepare students for jobs that fill the needs of society. At state and land-grant universities, students become familiar with the professional world, gain valuable hands-on experience, and enhance their knowledge of specific fields through internships and community work.

For More Information

To learn more about the opportunities offered at state and land-grant institutions. Visit the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges' Internet site at