North Dakota State University

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North Dakota State University
North Dakota State University seal.svg
Former names
North Dakota Agricultural College (1890–1960)
TypePublic land-grant flagship[1][2][3][4][5][6][7] research university
Established1890; 131 years ago (1890)
Parent institution
North Dakota University System
Academic affiliations
Endowment$247.7 million (2020)[8]
PresidentDean L. Bresciani
ProvostMargaret Fitzgerald[9]
Academic staff
Administrative staff
Location, ,
United States

46°53′30″N 96°48′00″W / 46.8917°N 96.8000°W / 46.8917; -96.8000Coordinates: 46°53′30″N 96°48′00″W / 46.8917°N 96.8000°W / 46.8917; -96.8000
CampusUrban – Fargo Campus: 258 acres (1.0 km²)
ColorsGreen and Yellow
AthleticsNCAA Division I
Summit League
Missouri Valley Football Conference
Big 12
NicknameBison ("Thundering Herd")
North Dakota State University wordmark.svg

North Dakota State University of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, more commonly known as North Dakota State University (NDSU), is a public land-grant research university in Fargo, North Dakota. It was founded as North Dakota Agricultural College in 1890 as the state's land-grant university. NDSU is classified among "R2: Doctoral Universities – High research activity".[11] As of 2021, NDSU offers 94 undergraduate majors, 146 undergraduate degree programs, 5 undergraduate certificate programs, 84 undergraduate minors, 87 master's degree programs, 52 doctoral degree programs of study, and 21 graduate certificate programs.[12]

NDSU is part of the North Dakota University System. It is one of the largest universities in the state of North Dakota. The university also operates North Dakota's agricultural research extension centers distributed across the state on 18,488 acres (75 km2). In 2015, NDSU's economic impact on the state and region was estimated to be $1.3 billion a year according to the NDUS Systemwide Economic Study by the School of Economics at North Dakota State University.[13][14] In 2016, it was also the fifth-largest employer in the state of North Dakota.[15]



The bill founding North Dakota Agricultural College (NDAC) was signed on March 8, 1890, one year after North Dakota became a state and seven years after initial plans to start an agricultural college in the northern portion of the Dakota Territory.[16] NDAC was established as North Dakota's land-grant institution.[17]

On October 15, 1890, Horace E. Stockbridge became the first NDAC president and the Board of Trustees was formed.[18] Classes were initially held in six classrooms rented from Fargo College. A provisional course was held on January 6, 1891, and the first regular class of students was admitted on September 8, 1891. College Hall (Old Main), completed in 1892, was the first building and consisted of offices, classrooms, and a library.[18]

One of North Dakota State University's main iconic images welcomes you to their campus.

20th century[edit]

In 1908, the school's alma mater "The Yellow and The Green" was written and a year later the school's official colors, Yellow and Green, were selected.[16] In 2015 a change was made where only the first verse of the alma mater is recognized by the university.[19]

NDAC continued to grow and was renamed North Dakota State University on November 8, 1960 after a statewide referendum.[20] The name change was to reflect the increasing field of study breadth of the institution.[16]

A 36-acre (15 ha) area including 12 historic buildings was listed on the National Register of Historic Places as North Dakota State University District in 1986.[21]

21st century[edit]

Around the start of the 21st century, NDSU began a phase of growth.

NDSU surpassed 10,000 students in the fall of 2000 for the first time, and by Fall Semester of 2009, NDSU increased enrollment by another 10% to 14,189 students.[22] Enrollment in 2018 stood at 13,650.[23]

Research, athletic programs, and campus facilities benefited from increases in student enrollment. Between 2000 and 2007, NDSU added a number of undergraduate programs and 31 graduate programs. Several buildings have been built or expanded and remodeled over the past seven years, including the Wallman Wellness Center, Memorial Union, and the College of Business.

In 2004, all athletic programs moved to Division I.


Gates to North Dakota State University

North Dakota State University is primarily located in Fargo, North Dakota. NDSU consists of several campuses including: the main campus, NDSU Downtown, and several agricultural research extension centers.

Main campus[edit]

The main campus sits on 258 acres (1.04 km2) of land and consists of over 100 major buildings. The appearance of the main campus is maintained by the university's extensive agricultural programs. The main campus boundaries are 19th Avenue N. to the north, University Drive to the east, 18th St. N. to the west, and 12th Avenue N. to the south.[24]

Located in the historic Minard–South Engineering quad is the Babbling Brook. The Babbling Brook is a large water feature that offers students a serene location to relax and study. Enhancing the area are trickling waterfalls, various fish and flowers, an amphitheater seating area, and "buffalo-rubbed" rocks. This area offers a space for outdoor class sessions and small performances.

The Babbling Brook with Minard Hall and Heating Plant in the Background
The Babbling Brook under the Sunbeams

Over the years, NDSU's main campus has been aesthetically enhanced with many monuments including: the Bjornson Memorial Obelisk, Theatre Passion: Mask Sculpture, We Will Never Forget Memorial, and Noble's Golden Marguerite, among many others.

Southern area[edit]

The southern area of campus consists of many of NDSU's historic buildings, including Old Main, Minard Hall, Ceres Hall, Putnam Hall, South Engineering, and Morrill Hall.

Old Main in a Winter Morning

Central area[edit]

The central area consists of the Engineering Complex, Shepperd Arena, and many academic buildings, and the Quentin Burdick Building (QBB formerly IACC) which is a technology powerhouse for the entire state. The QBB contains several hundred computers and computer servers for many of the universities in the North Dakota University System as well as many other technologies and communication devices.

Old Main at North Dakota State University
Entrance to College of Engineering

The NDSU Memorial Union is also situated within the central campus and serves student social needs.

In the Fall of 2014, NDSU began construction on the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) building. Since then the building has been completed and renamed to A. Glenn Hill Center.

North area[edit]

Just north of the central area of campus is a large section that consists of many academic buildings, residence halls, and dining centers. This part is easily recognizable as four residential high-rises tower above the landscape. They are surrounded by grassy quads, as well as sand-volleyball and basketball courts. Between the four identical high-rises a dining center serves their 1000+ residents. Tunnels connect to the towers to ease travel in bad weather. A large new upper-class student residence, known as the Living Learning Center (East and West), is to the west of the high-rises. To the east, another dining center serves other nearby residence halls and their 1000+ residents.

West area[edit]

This area of campus is home to the NDSU Wallman Wellness Center, which currently houses the Wellness Center department, Student Health Service and Disability Services. The Wellness Center, which was first completed in 2001, expanded in 2007 and added an aquatic addition in 2016.

Athletic area[edit]

Further north is an area of campus that consists of many athletic facilities including the Bentson Bunker Fieldhouse, Bison Sports Arena, Fargodome, Newman Outdoor Field, Ellig Sports Complex, McCormick Wrestling Complex, Dacotah Field, Schlanser Track, and others.

A $31.6 million renovation of Bison Sports Arena (commonly referred to as the BSA) has been completed. Upon completion, the Sanford Health Athletic Complex now includes the Scheels Center basketball arena; a 14,500 square feet (1,350 m2) basketball training facility; a 15,000 square feet (1,400 m2) performance training center; a 2,000 square feet (190 m2) Hall of Fame display, and a Bison team store. Construction for the Shelly Ellig Indoor Track and Field Facility started in October 2011.

NDSU just added a new aquatics center inside the Wellness Center. It opened in the fall of 2016, and has many advantages. Including a wet classroom,[25] a lap pool, a relaxing pool, workout classes, and much more.

Research and technology park[edit]

The Research and Technology Park is a 55 acres (0.22 km2) site of innovation and technology, residing to the west of the north area of campus, and consists of entities that research and develop nano technologies, RFID, polymers and coatings, high performance computing, and others.

The Technology Incubator opened in March 2007. The 49,757 square feet (4,622.6 m2) facility is located in the NDSU Research and Technology Park, five minutes from the international airport and major interstate highways. The Technology Incubator was developed to assist startup entities and to complement the Research and Technology Park.

The Research and Technology Park also houses the Fargo branch of the North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS-Fargo), which opened in 1997.

NDSU Downtown[edit]

A colorful sign from an earlier era still brightens downtown Fargo

NDSU owns several buildings in downtown Fargo, N.D. Approximately 4,000 students, faculty, and staff use these NDSU Downtown facilities each year.

The project started in 2004 with the purchase and renovation of the former Northern School Supply building, located at NP Avenue and 8th Street North in the city's downtown. The structure, now known as Renaissance Hall, houses NDSU's visual arts department, architecture department and the office of Tri-College University, a partnership between NDSU, Concordia College and Minnesota State University Moorhead. The building's features include studios, classrooms, a wood shop, computer laboratories, gallery and an outdoor sculpture area.

In 2006, the NDSU Development Foundation purchased the Pioneer Mutual Life Insurance Building and Lincoln Mutual Life & Casualty Insurance Building along 2nd Avenue North between 8th and 10th Streets, also in downtown Fargo. The refurbished Pioneer building is now Richard H. Barry Hall, named after a former Fargo businessman. Barry Hall is home to the NDSU College of Business and Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics. According to the college, the downtown location and addition of the North Dakota Trade Office have increased interaction with local businesses and allowed the college to expand its offerings, such as a Certificate in Entrepreneurship in partnership with the University of North Dakota, and add three new centers: The Center for Professional Selling and Sales Technology, Fraud Education and Research Institute and the Center for Leadership Practice. Barry Hall has 12 conference rooms, a two-story atrium, 14 classrooms, a 250-seat auditorium and a six-story faculty office town.

The MATBUS line runs between the main campus and downtown.

The Lincoln Mutual Life and Casualty building is now Klai Hall, named for NDSU alumnus and university supporter John Klai. The building houses the landscape architecture program and features studios, classrooms, a model shop, computer lab, laser cutter facilities and a library.

For travel between NDSU Downtown and the main campus, MATBUS operates various circulator routes that all NDSU students can ride for free using their student ID.[26]

Agricultural research extension centers[edit]

North Dakota State University has many research extension centers across the state that encompass over 18,488 acres (75 km2) in total. Major NDSU research extension centers are located near Carrington, Casselton, Dickinson, Fargo, Hettinger, Langdon, Minot, Streeter, and Williston.


North Dakota State University is divided into the following colleges:

  • Engineering
  • Science and Mathematics
  • Human Development and Education
  • Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences
  • Health Professions
  • Business
  • Agriculture, Food Systems & Natural Resources
  • University Studies
  • Graduate School and Interdisciplinary Studies

NDSU offers a major known as University Studies that allows a student to study in nearly any area that interests them. To enhance learning among its students, NDSU offers online classes, online academic portals, or technology enhanced classrooms.

NDSU uses a semester system – Fall and Spring with two summer sessions. The majority of students are full-time with 55% male and 45% female.


Academic rankings
Forbes[27] 369
THE/WSJ[28] 401-500
U.S. News & World Report[29] 284
Washington Monthly[30] 221
U.S. News & World Report[31] 981
  • In several National Science Foundation research subcategories for fiscal year 2012, NDSU's research expenditures rank in the top 100 in several areas, including expenditures for agricultural sciences, social sciences, physical sciences, chemistry, and psychology.
  • NDSU's research expenditures ranks 127th out of 912 research universities in the U.S. The ranking is based on total research expenditures reported in fiscal year 2011 to the National Science Foundation. NDSU's total research expenditures were $135.5 million for fiscal year 2012, the most recent year available in the national research survey.[32] lists Fargo, ND as No. 5 in an article called "Top College Towns for Jobs." The article suggests that research universities are conducive to great environments for business, providing an educated labor force and centers of innovation stemming from university research.[33]


Total collections at the NDSU libraries include holdings of approximately 1 million physical items in addition to access to extensive electronic resources. The NDSU library was remodeled and updated during the school year of 2015 and 2016.

NDSU libraries:

  • Main Library – contains over 500,000 items including books, periodicals, government documents, maps, media, and microforms
  • Heritage Collection – contains 13,000 manuscripts, artifacts and other primary materials
  • Klai Juba Wald Architectural Studies Library – contains over 20,000 physical items
  • Business Learning Center – supports the College of Business and Department of Agribusiness and Applied Economics and contains over 4,000 physical items
  • P.N. Haakenson Health Sciences Library – contains 8,000 physical items
  • Institute for Regional Studies and NDSU Archives – contains over 22,000 manuscripts, artifacts and other historical resources
  • Storage Annex – houses over 300,000 physical items


NDSU is a major component of the Red River Valley Research Corridor. According to the NSF Higher Education and Research Development (HERD) survey, NDSU ranks in the top 100 research universities for agricultural sciences and social sciences.[34] According to the National Science Foundation, NDSU is the largest research institution in the state of North Dakota. NDSU's annual research expenditures exceed $150 million. Major fields of research at NDSU include nanotechnology, genomics, agriculture, chemistry, and polymers and coatings. NDSU also has a 55-acre (223,000 m2) Research and Technology Park located on the north side of the main campus.

The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education has classified NDSU in the "Research University/High Research Activity" category.


NDSU's sports teams are known as the North Dakota State Bison, or simply The Bison (pronounced "biZon").[10] They are also known as "The Thundering Herd." NDSU's athletic symbol is a caricature of the American Bison.

North Dakota State's intercollegiate sports teams participate in NCAA Division I in all sports (Division I Championship Subdivision in football). NDSU was a charter member of the Division II North Central Conference (NCC), and made the move to Division I sports in the fall of 2004. NDSU spent the next two years as an independent in Division I in all sports other than football, in which it was a member of the Great West Football Conference. The school was accepted into the Summit League on August 31, 2006, and began play in that conference on July 1, 2007. The football team left the Great West Football Conference and joined the Missouri Valley Football Conference on March 7, 2007. They became a full member of the conference during the 2008 season. NDSU joined the Big 12 Conference in wrestling in 2015.[35]


The Bison football team was the winningest program in NCAA Football history with thirty-three conference championships and eight national championships (1965, 1968, 1969, 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990) before moving to Division I Championship Subdivision in 2004. In January 2012, NDSU defeated Sam Houston State in the FCS National Championship game becoming the 2011 season National Champions. NDSU football is a major event in the city of Fargo and the region, averaging over 18,000 fans per home game. The Bison play their home games at the Fargodome (cap. 19,287). In January 2013, NDSU football won the NCAA Division I championship title for a second year in a row, defeating Sam Houston again. They also defeated Kansas State and hosted ESPN College Gameday. In January 2014, NDSU defeated Towson to win its 3rd consecutive national championship in FCS football. It is only the 2nd team in NCAA history to achieve this feat. NDSU also defeated FBS Iowa State for their 6th consecutive win over an FBS opponent and hosted ESPN College Gameday for the 2nd straight season. January 2015, for the 2014 season, NDSU defeated Illinois State to win its 4th consecutive national championship in FCS football. The feat had never been accomplished in Division I football.[citation needed]

In the 2015 season, NDSU defeated Jacksonville State for a record 5th consecutive NCAA Division I FCS national championship. No football team in the modern history of the NCAA has accomplished this feat. In the 2016 season, NDSU was defeated by James Madison, 27–17, who eventually went on to win the championship. This ended the Bison's reign of 5 consecutive championships.[36] The following season the Bison went on to win the FCS National Championship again for the sixth time in seven years, by beating James Madison 17–13. In 2018, the Bison completed an undefeated season going 15-0 and defeating the Eastern Washington Eagles 38-24 and winning their 7th FCS championship in 8 years.[37] North Dakota State University has the most NCAA FCS football championships, as of 2018.[38]

On September 17, 2016, the Bison upset the No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes, 23–21.[39] It was the Bison's sixth-straight win against a team in the NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision.[39]


The Bison men's and women's basketball| teams have played since 1970 in a venue that was known before 2016 as the Bison Sports Arena. Following a $41 million renovation that nearly doubled the facility's seating capacity, the venue will be renamed the Sanford Health Athletic Complex, with the basketball arena called The Scheels Center, beginning with the 2016–2017 season.

The women's basketball team won five NCAA National Championships during the 1990s – 1991, 1993 through 1996. In January 2006, the NCAA recognized NDSU's four consecutive Division II Women's Basketball Championships (1993–1996) as one of the "25 Most Defining Moments in NCAA History."

NDSU's men's basketball team gained national recognition in 2006 with an upset win at #13 ranked Wisconsin, and again in the 2006–07 season with a win at #8 ranked Marquette.

On March 10, 2009, North Dakota State gained an automatic invitation to the NCAA Basketball Tournament in its first year of eligibility for Division I postseason play, by defeating Oakland 66–64 in the Summit League Tournament Championship game. The #14 seeded Bison lost to #3 Kansas in the 1st Round.

In the 2nd Round of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament, the #12 seeded Bison team defeated #5 Oklahoma 80–75; then it lost to #4 San Diego State in the 3rd Round.

NDSU also made the 2015 NCAA Basketball Tournament, with the #15 seeded Bison falling 86–76 to #2 seeded Gonzaga in the Round of 64. (Gonzaga went on to the Elite Eight, before losing to Duke, the eventual Tournament Champion.)


Formed in 1957, Bison wrestling won Division II team titles in 1988, 1998, 2000, and 2001. The team first became fully eligible for the Division I tournament competition in 2009. In 2015, following the disbanding of the Western Wrestling Conference, the Bison and all other former WWC members joined the Big 12 Conference for wrestling. NDSU wrestlers compete in the Bison Sports Arena but will be moving into the Sanford Health Athletic complex for the 2016 season.

Other sports[edit]

The Bison hockey team plays in the ACHA and has won eight men's club hockey national championships. North Dakota State's Bison dance team won a National Championship by taking 1st place at nationals in 2012 and 2013 in pom in Orlando, Florida.

The NDSU Track and Field team has won nine consecutive conference championships in the Summit League.

Amy Olson (née Anderson), a member of the women's golf team, set the NCAA record for most career match victories (20).[40]

Student life[edit]

Campus media[edit]

Thunder Radio, an NDSU radio station, operates on KNDS-LP 96.3 FM and offers online streaming. The Bison Information Network, founded in 2008, is a student-run TV station. It focuses on student and athletic news, and is broadcast on campus channel 84 and Fargo public-access television cable TV channel 14.


The Spectrum is NDSU's student newspaper. It has been in print since 1896.

Bison Illustrated is a magazine covering North Dakota State Bison athletics.

NDSU magazine is a magazine for alumni and friends of North Dakota State University. Story ideas and information for NDSU magazine come from a variety of sources. The inaugural issue was October 2000.[41]

"Northern Eclecta" is a literary journal produced by students in NDSU's Literary Publications class. It accepts creative writing, photographs, and artwork from NDSU students and community students in grades 7–12.

Performing arts[edit]

The Division of Performing Arts offers four performance facilities:

  • Festival Concert Hall – An acoustically tuned 1000-seat hall, opened in 1982. FCH is the concert home for all NDSU music major ensembles, such as the Gold Star Concert Band and the NDSU Concert Choir, and the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony and Fargo-Moorhead Opera.
  • Beckwith Recital Hall – A smaller setting with a seating capacity of 200. It is used as a classroom for art and music as well as faculty, student and small group recitals.
  • Askanase Auditorium – A 380-seat proscenium theater. Theatre NDSU uses the theater for a majority of their plays.
  • Walsh Studio Theatre – A flexible studio-laboratory black box theater. It is located in Askanase Hall.

NDSU's Gold Star Marching Band performs for Bison football games at the Fargodome.

Residence Life[edit]

The Department of Residence Life operates 13 residence halls.[42] The department also operates 4 apartment complexes on campus.[43] NDSU requires all first year students to live in an on-campus residence hall.[44]

The Memorial Union[edit]

Construction of the Memorial Union was completed in 1953, and the grand opening held during Homecoming weekend of that same year.[45] The Memorial Union initially had a ballroom and dining center. In 2005, the building underwent a $22 million expansion and remodeling.[46] Today, the Memorial Union consists of three floors. The main floor is home to the NDSU Bookstore, a coffee shop, bank, and various offices. A ballroom and several conference rooms comprise much of the second floor, and the basement is home to a dining center, food court, and various recreation facilities including a bowling alley and e-sports gaming lab.[47]

Entrance to Bison Court, one of the University Apartments


There are three dining centers on campus. Two (the Residence Dining Center and the West Dining Center) are located to the north of campus near the majority of the dormitories, and one situated in the Memorial Union. A number of restaurants are located on campus as well, such as Panda Express and the Bison Beanery.[48]

Residence Dining Center

Greek life[edit]

Greek life has been a part of the NDSU campus since 1904 when the first social fraternity was formed offering membership to men in all fields of study.[49] The first women's social fraternity was formed on campus in 1908.[50] NDSU presently has 15 national fraternities and sororities, 12 of which are open to individuals in any field of study and 3 that restrict membership to students in specific professional disciplines and/or areas of career interest. The Greek community has over 650 students.[51]


Chapter Status Years active
Alpha Gamma Rho Active 1913–Present[52]
Alpha Tau Omega Active 1931–Present[52]
Delta Tau Delta Active 2011–Present[53]
Delta Upsilon Active 1970–Present[52]
FarmHouse Active 1955–Present[52]
Kappa Psi Active 1924–Present[52]
Sigma Phi Delta Active 1928–Present[52]
Tau Kappa Epsilon Active 1955–Present[52]
Sigma Alpha Epsilon Active 1935–Present[54]
Sigma Chi Active 1934–Present[52]
Sigma Nu Active 1962–Present[52]
Theta Chi Active 1904–Present[55]
Alpha Mu Inactive 1912–1917[52]



Chapter Status Years active
Alpha Gamma Delta Active 1930–Present[57]
Delta Delta Delta Active 2017–Present[58]
Kappa Alpha Theta Active 1947–Present[59]
Kappa Delta Active 1924–Present[60]
Phi Mu Inactive 1932–Early 2000s[52]
Ceres Inactive 1994–Unknown[52]
Gamma Phi Beta Inactive 1908–1993[52]
Kappa Kappa Gamma Inactive 1929–1985[52]


Notable alumni[edit]


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External links[edit]