Texas A&M University (Texas A&M, TAMU/ˈtæmuː/, or A&M) is a coeducational public research university located in College Station, Texas, United States. It is the flagship institution of the Texas A&M University System, the fourth-largest university in the United States and the largest university in Texas. The university enjoys a strong athletic program and fan following, known as the twelfth man, and is a member of the Southeastern Conference. It is consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the United States; most notably, its engineering school ranks in the top 10 of public schools. Texas A&M's designation as a land, sea, and space grant institution reflects a range of research with ongoing projects funded by agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. The school ranks in the top 20 American research institutes in funding and has made contributions to such fields as animal cloning and petroleum engineering.
The first public institution of higher education in Texas, the school opened on October 4, 1876 as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas under the provisions of the Morrill Land-Grant Acts. Originally, the college taught no classes in agriculture, instead concentrating on classical studies, languages, literature, and applied mathematics. After four years, students could attain degrees in scientific agriculture, civil and mechanical engineering, and language and literature. Under the leadership of President James Earl Rudder in the 1960s, A&M desegregated, became coeducational, and dropped the requirement for participation in the Corps of Cadets. To reflect the institution's expanded roles and academic offerings, the Texas Legislature renamed the school to Texas A&M University in 1963. The letters "A&M", originally short for "Agricultural and Mechanical", are retained only as a link to the university's past. The school's students, alumni, and sports teams are known as Aggies.
The main campus is one of the largest in the United States, spanning 5,200 acres (21 km2), and includes the George Bush Presidential Library. About one-fifth of the student body lives on campus. Texas A&M has approximately 1,000 officially recognized student organizations. Many students also observe the traditions of Texas A&M University, which govern daily life, as well as special occasions, including sports events. On July 1, 2012, the school joined the Southeastern Conference. A&M operates two branches: Texas A&M at Qatar and Texas A&M University at Galveston. Working with agencies such as the Texas AgriLife Research and Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Texas A&M has a direct presence in each of the 254 counties in Texas. The university offers degrees in over 150 courses of study through ten colleges and houses 18 research institutes. Texas A&M has awarded over 320,000 degrees, including 70,000 graduate and professional degrees.
As a Senior Military College, Texas A&M is one of six American public universities with a full-time, volunteer Corps of Cadets who study alongside civilian undergraduate students.