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About NC State University


When NC State University was founded in 1887, the school embodied ideals that were rapidly transforming the field of higher education. Chief among them was the belief that colleges should not be reserved for a select few and that the children of farmers, mechanics and other workers should have access to the opportunities and benefits of higher education. A new generation of progressive thinkers founded the college, known then as the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. No organization did more to advance the cause of this new institution than the Watauga Club, a reform-minded group of lawyers, teachers, doctors and businessmen in Raleigh — all of them younger than 30. Watauga Club member Charles W. Dabney, who wrote the legislation creating the new institution, exemplified the changes sweeping the South in the 1880s. The son of a Calvinist theologian who professed skepticism of modern science, Dabney earned a Ph.D. in chemistry and built a reputation as one of the foremost agricultural scientists in the nation. Today we honor NC State’s founders — men like Dabney, William J. Peele and Walter Hines Page — not just for their vision, but also because they lived at a time when considerable foresight, skill and courage were required to rally public support for higher education.

Jimmy V

Growth and Extension

NC State was established under the auspices of the federal Morrill Act of 1862, which allowed the U.S. government to donate federally owned land to the states for the purpose of establishing colleges that would teach “agriculture and the mechanic arts.” The brand-new school held its first classes in the fall of 1889 with 72 students, six faculty members and one building. In the early 1900s, a new federal program sparked an era of outreach work at the college. The 1914 passage of the Smith-Lever Act created an educational partnership between land-grant colleges and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Under this new cooperative extension program, the colleges would send staff to meet with farmers around the state and provide practical agricultural instruction. This led North Carolina to establish the Cooperative Agricultural Extension Service (now the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service) at NC State.

New Name, New Focus

By the 1920s, North Carolina State College (as the school was then known) was beginning to grow beyond its original agricultural and mechanical focus, adding schools of engineering, textiles, education and business, as well as a graduate school. The Depression posed economic challenges for higher education throughout the nation, and State College was no exception. As the crisis slowly eased, the college renewed its growth, adding students and developing new programs until the onset of World War II. State College contributed to the war effort by hosting a number of military detachments and training exercises and by refitting the work of several departments and programs to military and defense purposes.


Postwar Boom

The campus experienced unparalleled growth during the postwar years as the G.I. Bill brought thousands of former servicemen to campus. In the following decades, the college continued to expand its curricula, creating schools of design, forestry, physical and mathematical sciences, and humanities and social sciences. During these years of growth, the name was changed again, this time to North Carolina State University at Raleigh—the university’s current official name.

The university celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1987, which also saw the creation of Centennial Campus, bringing together academic, corporate, government and nonprofit leaders to partner in teaching, research and economic development.

Aerial of Centennial Campus looking north.

The Pre-eminent Research Enterprise

NC State has developed into a vital educational and economic resource, with more than 34,000 students and 8,000 faculty and staff. A wealth of university outreach and extension programs continue to provide services and education to all sectors of the state’s economy and its citizens. Consistently ranked a best value among the nation’s public universities, NC State — the state’s largest university — is an active, vital part of North Carolina life. Today, more than 128 years after its founding, NC State continues to follow its original mission: opening the doors of higher education to the citizens of North Carolina and providing teaching, research and extension that strengthen the state and its economy.



As a research-extensive land-grant university, North Carolina State University is dedicated to excellent teaching, the creation and application of knowledge, and engagement with public and private partners. By uniting our strength in science and technology with a commitment to excellence in a comprehensive range of disciplines, NC State promotes an integrated approach to problem solving that transforms lives and provides leadership for social, economic, and technological development across North Carolina and around the world.

Essential Facts and Figures

  • 33,755 students, 2,336 faculty and 6,733 staff
  • Student-faculty ratio 13:1
  • 10 colleges representing all major academic fields
  • 900+ student organizations
  • Educating more North Carolinians than any other university
  • $1.495 billion budget for fiscal year 2017
  • $405 million in sponsored research awards for fiscal year 2017
  • $1.1 billion endowment
  • Cooperative Extension Service provides services to citizens in all 100 counties and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

NC State Among the Best

Whether it’s Times Higher Education naming the university one of the best in the U.S. for graduate employability or Kiplinger listing us as a top value for both in- and out-of-state students, NC State is regularly ranked among the nation’s top public universities.

This page provides rankings from leading publications and sources that recognize NC State’s outstanding academic quality, affordable tuition rates, admission and retention rates, student-faculty ratios, financial aid and four-and-six year graduation rates.

Princeton Review and USA Today, 2014

  • 4th in Best Overall Public University Value

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, 2018

  • 9th in Best Value for In-State Students Among Public Colleges
  • 7th in Best Value for Out-of-State Students Among Public Colleges

Times Higher Education, 2016

  • 16th in Top Universities in the U.S. for Graduate Employability

Center for World University Rankings, 2017

  • 116th among global institutions with the most top-ten placements
  • 5th globally in Entomology
  • 7th globally in Materials Science, Textiles
  • 8th globally in Agricultural Economics and Policy

U.S. News & World Report — Overall, 2017 

  • 92nd among National Universities
  • 38th among Top Public Schools
  • 62nd among Best Value Schools
  • 59th among Best Colleges for Veterans

U.S. News & World Report — Undergraduate, 2017

  • 32nd in Best Engineering Programs
  • 10th in Biological/Agricultural Engineering
  • 16th in Chemical Engineering
  • 14th in Civil Engineering
  • 11th in Environmental/Environmental Health
  • 14th in Industrial/Manufacturing
  • 16th in Materials Engineering

U.S. News & World Report — Graduate, 2017

  • 75th in Biological Sciences
  • 57th in Business Schools
  • 56th in Chemistry
  • 48th in Computer Science
  • 60th in Earth Sciences
  • 55th in Economics
  • 55th in Education
  • 25th in Engineering
  • 31st in Aerospace Engineering/Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering
  • 10th in Biological/Agricultural Engineering
  • 21st in Chemical Engineering
  • 17th in Civil Engineering
  • 24th in Computer Engineering
  • 31st in Electrical/Electronic/Communications Engineering
  • 25th in Environmental/Environmental Health Engineering
  • 15th in Industrial/Manufacturing/Systems Engineering
  • 17th in Materials Engineering
  • 42nd in Mechanical Engineering
  • 5th in Nuclear Engineering
  • 75th in Biological Sciences
  • 56th in Chemistry
  • 48th in Computer Science
  • 60th in Earth Sciences
  • 55th in Economics
  • 52nd in Math
  • 54th in Physics
  • 45th in Public Affairs
  • 78th in Social Work
  • 47th in Sociology
  • 15th in Statistics
  • 3rd in Veterinary Medicine

U.S. News & World Report — Online, 2017

  • 103rd in Bachelor’s Programs
  • 6th in Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs
  • 29th in Graduate Education Programs
  • 9th in Graduate Engineering Programs
  • 18th in MBA Programs

U.S. News & World Report — Global, 2017

  • 213th in Best Universities
  • 38th in Agricultural Sciences
  • 185th in Biology and Biochemistry
  • 118th in Chemistry
  • 186th in Computer Science
  • 110th in Engineering
  • 115th in Environment/Ecology
  • 166th in Geosciences
  • 59th in Materials Science
  • 66th in Mathematics
  • 32nd in Plant and Animal Science

Milken Institute’s University Technology Transfer and Commercialization Index, 2017

  • 25th nationally in patents issued
  • 9th nationally in patents issued among universities without a medical school
  • 10th nationally in licenses issued
  • 4th nationally in licenses issued among universities without a medical school
  • 18th nationally in licensing income
  • 6th nationally in licensing income among universities without a medical school
  • 21st nationally in startups formed
  • 9th nationally in startups formed among universities without a medical school

Association of University Technology Managers, 2016

  • 9th nationally in commercialization agreements
  • 2nd among universities without a medical school in licenses and options executed
  • 3rd among universities without a medical school in startup businesses launched
  • 5th among universities without a medical school in invention disclosures received
  • 8th among universities without a medical school in license income
  • 19th among universities without a medical school in U.S. patents issued
  • 13th among universities without a medical school in total patents filed

American Association of Engineering Education, 2015

  • 13th in Undergraduate Enrollment among All Engineering Colleges
  • 9th among All U.S. Engineering Colleges in Number of B.S. Degrees Awarded
  • 11th among All U.S. Engineering Colleges in Number of B.S. Degrees Awarded to African Americans
  • 17th among All U.S. Engineering Colleges in Number of B.S. Degrees Awarded to Women
  • 2nd in Chemical Engineering Degrees Awarded
  • 8th in Civil Engineering Degrees Awarded
  • 21st in Industrial/Manufacturing/System Engineering Degrees Awarded
  • 24th in Mechanical Engineering Degrees Awarded
  • 5th in Electrical Engineering Degrees Awarded
  • 5th in Computer Engineering Degrees Awarded
  • 14th in Computer Science Degrees Awarded
  • 8th in Graduate Enrollment among All Engineering Colleges
  • 11th in All U.S. Engineering Colleges in Number of Masters Degrees Awarded
  • 13th in All U.S. Engineering Colleges in Number of Doctoral Degrees Awarded
  • 12th in All U.S. Engineering Colleges in Number of Degrees Awarded to Foreign Nationals

National Science Foundation, 2016

  • 4th in Industry Research Funding among universities without medical schools
  • 7th in Total Research Expenditures Among Public Universities Without Medical Schools
  • 14th in Total Research Expenditures in Engineering

Association of Research Libraries Membership Index, 2015

  • 35th in Public University Libraries

Diverse Issues in Higher Education, 2016

  • 4th in Engineering undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans
  • 6th in Math and Statistics undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans
  • 7th in Agriculture undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans
  • 12th in Agriculture graduate degrees awarded to African Americans
  • 12th in Engineering graduate degrees awarded to African Americans

The Center for Measuring University Performance, 2011

(also known as the Lombardi Rankings)

  • 31st among Public American Research Universities
  • 30th in National Academy Membership among Public Universities
  • 43rd in Endowment Assets among Public Universities
  • 37th in Faculty Awards among Public Universities
  • 23rd in the Number of Awarded Doctorates among Public Universities
  • 47th in Annual Giving among Public Universities