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Overview Statement

Created by the Oklahoma Territorial Legislature in 1890, the University of Oklahoma is a doctoral degree-granting research university serving the educational, cultural, economic and health-care needs of the state, region and nation. The Norman campus serves as home to all of the university’s academic programs except health-related fields. The OU Health Sciences Center, which is located in Oklahoma City, is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional colleges. Both the Norman and Health Sciences Center colleges offer programs at the Schusterman Center, the site of OU-Tulsa. OU enrolls more than 30,000 students, has more than 2,700 full-time faculty members, and has 21 colleges offering 166 undergraduate majors, 232 graduate majors, 36 professional majors, and 34 graduate certificates. The university’s annual operating budget is $1.7 billion. The University of Oklahoma is an equal opportunity institution.


OU ranks No. 1 in the nation among all public universities in the number of National Merit Scholars enrolled. 

The Princeton Review ranks OU among the best in the nation in terms of academic excellence and cost for students.

OU ranks in the top six universities nationwide in affordability, academic quality and reasonable acceptance rates, according to rankings released by

OU is a leader among all American universities in international exchange and study abroad programs. One in four OU students study abroad. OU currently offers programs in over 50 countries and 100 cities in six continents. Students from 120 countries are enrolled at OU.

OU has produced 29 Rhodes Scholars; no other university in Oklahoma has had more than three.

Three OU students were named Goldwater Scholars, placing OU in the top ranks of universities nationally 
with 46 Goldwater Scholars since the competition began in 1991.

An OU student was named a Truman Scholar, one of only 59 selected in the U.S.

Four OU students were named Fulbright Scholars after a rigorous national competition. 

OU students achieved the highest graduation rate in state history for a public university – a record high of 67.8 percent for the freshman class that entered in 2005.

For the seventh consecutive year, University of Oklahoma students from the Peggy Dow Helmerich School of Drama have earned national honors at the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival held in Washington, D.C.

OU has achieved the Carnegie Foundation’s highest tier of research activity classification, the first time a public institution in Oklahoma has received this outstanding recognition.

OU conferred the largest number of degrees of any college or university in state history – 7,495 – during the 2011-12 academic year. 

The Joe C. and Carole Kerr McClendon Honors College offers one of the most energetic and creative honors programs among public universities in the United States. More than 3,000 students participate in small classes, usually of 19 or less. More than 80 informal book clubs have been created in the past three years.

OU student teams won top honors, including the new OG&E Positive Energy Award, at this year’s Donald W. Reynolds Governor’s Cup Collegiate Business Plan Competition in Oklahoma City, a competition designed to encourage students of Oklahoma universities and colleges to act upon their entrepreneurial ideas and develop skills to lead tomorrow’s innovative news businesses. 

OU averaged the lowest increase in tuition and fees nationwide at a statewide public university over the last five years, according to a recent College Board report.

The One University Digital Initiative allows OU faculty to develop digital alternatives to high-cost textbooks, translating to an annual savings averaging $400 per student in textbook costs.

OU is the first public university in the nation to be awarded the prestigious Davis Cup in recognition of its record-setting enrollment of 45 United World College international freshmen.

OU’s Research Campus was named the #1 research campus in the nation, placing it among such past recipients as the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina, Purdue Research Park in Indiana and University City Center in Pennsylvania.

OU’s entrepreneurship program in the Price College of Business ranks in the top two in the nation among all public universities.

OU’s $250 million Campaign for Scholarships has reached $285 million in gifts and pledges. The success of the campaign has allowed OU to more than double its private scholarships.

OU has increased, from 100 to 562, the number of endowed faculty positions in the past 19 years, demonstrating a strong commitment to excellence.

OU continues to break private fundraising records, with more than $2 billion in gifts and pledges since 1994, which has provided funding for dramatic capital improvements, the growth in faculty endowment and student scholarships.

OU has the academically highest ranked student body at a public university in Oklahoma history.

OU’s Debate Teams have won the National University Debate Championship four times in the last eight years, with an OU student earning the Title of Best Speaker at this years’ National Debate Tournament.

OU junior Rashid Campbell earned the title of First Speaker at the 2014 National Debate Tournament and is the first African American to win the title in the 67-year history of the tournament.

Since 1994, research and sponsored programs expenditures at OU have more than doubled, and OU continues to set new records for funding for externally sponsored research. OU ended FY 2012 with total expenditures of more than $284 million.

Since 1994, more than $2 billion in construction projects have been completed, are under way or are forthcoming on OU’s three campuses, the largest of which is the $128 million Peggy and Charles Stephenson Oklahoma Cancer Center.

OU is home to one of the two largest natural history museums in the world associated with a university. The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has more than 7 million artifacts and contains 195,000 square feet on 40 acres of land. The museum exhibits include the largest Apatosaurus on display in the world and the oldest work of art ever found in North America — a lightning bolt painted on an extinct bison skull.

During the past 18 years, the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art has acquired several significant collections that have further strengthened the museum’s holdings in the areas of Native American and Southwest art. Strengths of the nearly 16,000-object permanent collection include the Weitzenhoffer Collection of French Impressionism, one of the most important gifts of art ever given to a U.S. public university; the Eugene B. Adkins Collection, shared with the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa; the James T. Bialac Collection; the Dr. and Mrs. Richard L. Sandor Photography Collection; the Priscilla C. and Joseph N. Tate Collection; the Roxanne P. and William H. Thams Collection; and the Richard H. and Adeline J. Fleischaker Collection.

OU’s Western History Collection is one of the largest collections in the world of documents and photographs, including a rare multivolume portfolio on the Indians of the United States and Alaska by Edward S.Curtis.

The Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center building represents the largest public-private biomedical initiative in Oklahoma history.  The 210,000-square-foot facility provides patient-centered care, offering the most advanced cancer detection and treatment technology, the largest and most experienced group of cancer specialists, a wide array of supportive services and an environment that provides a warm and comforting experience for patients and caregivers. 

OU’s Harold Hamm Diabetes Center is one of the top comprehensive diabetes centers in the world for adults and children with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, engaging in novel research aimed at progress toward a cure for diabetes and its complications, providing dramatically improved patient care, and preventing the spread of diabetes through education and early detection.

A major beautification campaign has transformed the appearance of the OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City. The project replaced a divided highway through campus with seven tiered gardens featuring traditional OU arches at each end. The pedestrian walkway’s landmarks include an OU Seed Sower sculpture at the west end, a clock tower at the east end, and a 70-foot granite fountain in the center.

International and Area Studies is among the fastest growing fields of study at OU, with seven majors, an accelerated bachelor’s/master’s program, and a juris doctor/master’s in International Studies option. To accommodate growing student demand in that discipline, OU has created the College of International Studies that includes the School of International and Area Studies, the offices of Education Abroad and International Student Services, and the International Programs Center.

For the outdoor improvements to the Norman campus — gardens, fountains, sculptures, benches — the University of Oklahoma has won first place in the education category for Beautification and Landscaping in the statewide environmental competition. Gifts of over $3 million have permanently endowed OU’s gardens.

With 600 doctors, OU Physicians is the state’s largest physician group. The practice encompasses nearly every adult and child specialty. Many OU Physicians have expertise in the management of complex conditions that is unavailable anywhere else in the state, region or sometimes even the nation. Some have pioneered surgical procedures or innovations in patient care that are world firsts.

The University of Oklahoma maintains one of the three most important collections of early manuscripts in the history of science in the United States. It includes Galileo’s own copy of his work, which first used the telescope to support the Copernican theory, with corrections in his own handwriting.

The University of Oklahoma Libraries has more than 5 million volumes,  commanding lead as the state’s largest research library and claiming one of the top two spots in size among Big 12 libraries.

OU’s Julian P. Kanter Political Commercial Archive houses the world’s largest collection of U.S. political commercials. With more than 95,000 commercials, the archive includes political advertisements dating back to 1936 for radio and 1950 for television.

The highly acclaimed journal of international literature, World Literature Today, is published at the University of Oklahoma.

OU is home to the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, considered to be second in prestige only to the Nobel Prize and often referred to as the “American Nobel.”  Thirty Neustadt laureates, candidates and jurors have won the Nobel Prize in the past 42 years.

The OU Cousins program matches U.S. and international students to share informal and social experiences. Students may volunteer to live on international floors with half of the residents from the United States and half from other countries.

Dance Magazine places the OU School of Dance in the top three of all dance programs in the country.

OU’s 277-acre Research Campus is anchored by the Stephenson Research and Technology Center, where cutting-edge research includes radar technology, meteorology, genetics, energy and the life sciences. The campus is home to the National Weather Center, which houses OU’s academic and research programs in meteorology and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Norman-based weather, research and operations programs.

OU’s supercomputer debuted as the fastest in Oklahoma history and in the Big 12 and in the top 10 at U.S. universities (excluding federally funded national supercomputing centers).

Since its creation in 1998, OU’s Office of Technology Development has helped launch 36 companies that have generated more than $96 million in capital. In addition, the companies have created in excess of 150 jobs, which pay on average nearly twice the median household income in Oklahoma.

The OU College of Law has an annual bar passage rate that places OU among the very best in the nation.

A major building project has doubled the size of the Law Center, refurbishing classrooms and creating a new library, a cutting-edge courtroom, and expanded student lounge and office facilities.

OU President David Boren, a former U.S. senator and governor of Oklahoma, teaches an introductory course in political science each semester, and keeps in close touch with students.

OU has one of the oldest comprehensive colleges of fine arts in the Great Plains states, with highly regarded schools of Music, Drama, Art and Dance, and programs in opera, musical theater and sculpture.

OU has won awards for new initiatives to create a sense of family and community on campus. OU is one of the very few public universities to twice receive the Templeton Foundation Award as a “Character Building College” for stressing the value of community.

The University of Oklahoma has consistently been designated as one of America’s 100 Best College Buys by Institutional Research & Evaluation, an independent higher education research and consulting organization.

OU has established a faculty-in-residence program with faculty members and their families living in apartments in the student residence halls.

The Michael F. Price College is ranked as one of the nation’s top business schools at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Price College ranks in U.S. News & World Report’s top 20 in undergraduate business specialties for international business.

OU is one of a small number of Division I-A universities in the nation to receive the CHAMPS award for preparing student-athletes for life. The award is based on academic excellence, athletic excellence, personal development, community service and career development.

The Oklahoma Daily, OU's student newspaper, and Sooner yearbook are consistently ranked among the best in the country.

Five Native American languages are taught at the University of Oklahoma, more than any other university in the world.

The University of Oklahoma ranks in the top five in the nation in the number of undergraduate degrees conferred to Native American students, according to Diverse: Issues in Higher Education.

The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art at the University of Oklahoma houses one of the most important collections of Native American art in the United States.

The Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at OU is home to the Native American Journalists Association, the oldest and largest international organization for indigenous journalists.

OU has been recognized as an outstanding university for Hispanic students by Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education magazine.

The Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center houses the papers of more than 55 former members of Congress, making it the nation’s most comprehensive center for congressional studies.

OU’s journalism and mass communication school was elevated to college status, thanks to a $22 million gift from Edward L. Gaylord on behalf of the Gaylord family of Oklahoma City.

The OU Health Sciences Center is one of only four comprehensive academic health centers in the nation with seven professional schools: Allied Health, Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health and Graduate Studies.

OU is the only public university in Oklahoma to be included in the Fiske Guide to Colleges, which lists the top 10 percent of all U.S. universities.

OU frequently hosts national and international scholars and policymakers during major national conferences and symposia. Over the past few years, guests have included a former U.S. president, U.S. Supreme Court justices, a former British prime minister, international political analysts, and award-winning journalists, historians and authors.

OU’s A. Max Weitzenhoffer School of Musical Theatre is one of the very few university programs in the nation that provides students an opportunity to be in the same cast with professional Broadway actors in brand-new productions.

The OU Press is the oldest in the Great Plains states and ranks among the 20 most important university presses in the United States. It is a leading publisher of books about Native Americans and the American West.

The OU College of Law publishes the only law journal in the United States devoted exclusively to Native American legal issues.

This year, OU finished seventh in the Director’s Cup Standing. This year marks the fourth consecutive year that the Sooners have finished among the top 15 in the program that ranks overall program excellence in competition. 

A $50 million gift from the George Kaiser Family Foundation – the largest single gift the university has ever received – helped create the OU School of Community Medicine. The school’s mission is to improve the overall health status of underserved Oklahoma areas, both rural and urban, through community-based medicine.

In 1999, a $10 million grant to OU from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation of Tulsa supported the purchase of the BP Amoco property in Tulsa, enabling OU to establish a new community-based campus for the University’s Tulsa programs.

In 2003, the Schusterman Family underlined their support of OU in Tulsa with the announcement of a $10 million challenge grant for OU-Tulsa to help complete the first phase of the campus master plan for the Schusterman Center and allow OU-Tulsa to expand degree programming in key areas.

First- and second-year students receive outstanding instruction and mentoring under a program that brings more than 50 retired full professors back to campus to teach their introductory courses.

OU Outreach is one of the largest continuing higher education organizations in the nation and annually serves more than 200,000 learners around the world.

The OU Sooners have won 27 national championships in men’s and women’s sports with the latest coming in 2013 when the softball team won the Women's College World Series.

Five student-athletes were named to Academic All-America teams, 10 Sooner student-athletes were named to Academic All-District first teams, and 150 were named to conference All-Academic teams.

More than 300 Sooner student-athletes were named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll each semester last year. More than 60 OU student-athletes recorded a perfect 4.0 GPA last year.