Land-grant university

Land-grant university

Land-grant universities (also called land-grant colleges or land grant institutions) are institutions of higher education in the United States that have been designated by each state to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890.

The Morrill Acts funded educational institutions by granting federally controlled land to the states. The mission of these institutions, as set forth in the 1862 Act, is to teach agriculture, military tactics, the mechanic arts, and home economics, not to the exclusion of classical studies, so that members of the working classes might obtain a practical college education. [7 U.S.C. § 304.]

The Agricultural College of the State of Michigan, the predecessor to Michigan State University, was chartered February 12 1855 as the nation’s first land-grant institution, receiving a 14,000-acre appropriation of state-owned land. Its charter served as a model for the Morrill Act of 1862. The first land-grant university newly "created" under the Morrill Act of 1862 was Kansas State University, established on February 16 1863. The "oldest" land-grant university is Rutgers University, which was founded in 1766.

The mission of the land-grant universities was subsequently expanded by the Hatch Act of 1887, which provided federal funds to states to establish a series of agricultural experiment stations under the direction of each state's land-grant college, as well as pass along new information, especially in the areas of soil minerals and plant growth. The outreach mission was further expanded by the Smith-Lever Act of 1914 to include cooperative extension — the sending of agents into rural areas to help bring the results of agricultural research to the end users. Beyond the original land grants, each land-grant college receives annual Federal appropriations for research and extension work on the condition that those funds are matched by state funds.

Land-grant universities are not to be confused with sea grant colleges (a program instituted in 1966), space grant colleges (instituted in 1988), urban-grant universities or sun grant colleges (instituted in 2003). In some states, the land-grant missions for agricultural research and extension have been relegated to a statewide agency of the university system rather than the original land-grant campus; an example is the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture.


The universities were initially known as land-grant colleges. Today, only a small handful of the seventy-some institutions which evolved from the Morrill Acts still have "College" in their official names.

The University of the District of Columbia received land-grant status and a $7.24 million endowment (USD), in lieu of a land grant, in 1967. In a 1972 Special Education Amendment, American Samoa, Guam, Micronesia, Northern Marianas, and the Virgin Islands each received $3 million.

In 1994, 29 tribal colleges and universities became land grant institutions under the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act. In 2008, 32 tribal colleges and universities have land grant status. Most of these are two-year degree granting colleges. However, six are four-year institutions, and two offer a master's degree.

Relevant legislation

*The Morrill Act of 1862
*The Hatch Act of 1887
*The second Morrill Act of 1890
*The Adams Act - 1906
*The Nelson Act - 1907
*The Smith-Lever Act of 1914
*Chapter 79 - May 8, 1914
*The Smith-Hughes Act - 1917
*The Parnell Act - 1925
*The Copper-Ketcham Act - 1928
*The Bankhead-Jones Act of 1935
*The Bankhead-Flannegan Act - 1945
*The Research Marketing Act - 1946
*Amendment to Smith-Lever Act - 1953, 1955, 1961, 1962, 1968
*Amended Hatch Act - 1955
*The McIntire-Stennis Act - 1962
*The Research Facilities Act - 1965
*Public Law 89-106 - 1965
*The National Sea Grant College and Program Act - 1966
*The Rural Development Act - 1972
*The Food and Agriculture Act - 1977
*The National Agricultural Research Extension and Teaching Act - Title XIV - 1977
*The Resource Extension Act - 1978
*Amendment to Title XIV - 1981
*The Agriculture and Food Act - 1981
*Amendment to Title XIV of Food Security Act - 1985
*Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act. - 1994

See also

*List of land-grant universities
*National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges
*Sea Grant Colleges
*Space Grant Colleges
*Sun Grant Colleges
*State university


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