Alabama A&M University was founded in 1875 by the state of Alabama; originally a public normal school, Alabama A&M was intended to educate teachers for the state’s segregated black schools (hence the name of the town that built up around the State Normal School – Normal, AL). However, in 1891 Alabama was awarded a federal land grant, changing the State Normal School to the State Agricultural and Mechanical College for Negroes, providing African-American students with modern (for the time) skills in farming and engineering. Today, Alabama A&M University is a proud historically black university even as it has grown a diverse student body for the 21st century, ranked a top-tier regional institution for the South and the #26 HBCU nationally by U.S. News & World Report.
Academic ProgramsAlabama A&M has several unique aspects to its mission: as an HBCU, A&M is committed to providing opportunity for minority students; as a public university, A&M keeps education affordable and accessible for the people of Alabama; and as a STEM-centered university, A&M has a crucial role in closing the racial and regional gap in areas like engineering, biology, and mathematics. Alabama A&M University does all of those jobs masterfully, having a century and a half to perfect their approach. With a student:faculty ratio of 14:1 – closer to the standards of a small liberal arts college than a public STEM and professional university – A&M students get personalized attention from their instructors.
As a historically black university, Alabama A&M is a crucial educator of African-American students, as well as students from other minority groups. A&M is one of the nation’s leading institutions for producing minority STEM graduates, including biology, agriculture, and math. A&M also has one of the largest graduate schools of any HBCU (most of which are small liberal arts colleges), accounting for around 20% of the student body, with 23 master’s programs and 5 doctorates. In addition to their regular academic programs, A&M is part of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, which provides educational outreach to the state’s disadvantaged urban and rural residents.
Student LifeWith around 5000 undergraduates and over 1300 graduate students, Alabama A&M has a vibrant, highly diverse campus life, with students from 44 states and nearly a dozen foreign countries. As a public HBCU, A&M’s duty to provide educational opportunity is doubled, and A&M takes that duty very seriously; more than 40% of A&M’s student population is made up of first generation college students, and nearly 80% of students receive some form of need-based financial aid. Alabama A&M provides a top-tier, 21st century STEM and professional education, with strong faculty support and undergraduate research, for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford an elite program, and thus has a major impact on social mobility in Alabama and the Deep South.
Alabama A&M students stay busy. There are more than 115 student organizations, including 30 fraternities and sororities known for their community engagement and social activism (a hallmark of historically black Greek life). Overall, more than 75% of A&M’s student body is actively involved in community service, in A&M’s neighborhood and the area around metro Huntsville. A&M is also well-known for their fiery school spirit; the A&M Bulldogs are NCAA Division I giants, with multiple conference championship wins and one of the most fired-up fan bases in college sports. The Marching Maroon & White is one of the nation’s most famed show bands, with a national reputation going back to 1890.