Association of American Universities
|Formation||February 28, 1900|
|Founded at||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|Type||501(c)(3) nonprofit organization |
|Headquarters||William T. Golden Center for Science and Engineering, Washington, D.C., U.S.|
Latitude and Longitude:
|Barbara Snyder |
The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an organization of American research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education. Founded in 1900, it consists of 63 universities in the United States (both public and private) and 2 universities in Canada. AAU membership is by invitation and requires an affirmative vote of three-quarters of current members.
The AAU was founded on February 28, 1900, by a group of 14 Doctor of Philosophy degree–granting universities [a] in the United States to strengthen and standardize American doctoral programs.  American universities—starting with Johns Hopkins University in 1876—were adopting the research-intensive German model of higher education. Lack of standardization damaged European universities' opinions of their American counterparts, however, and many American students attended graduate school in Europe instead of staying in the U.S. The presidents of Johns Hopkins University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, Harvard University, and University of California sent a letter of invitation to nine other universities to meet at Chicago in February 1900 to promote and raise standards.  Charles William Eliot of Harvard University was elected the organization's first president,  and Stanford University's David Starr Jordan was elected the organization's first chairman. 
In 1914, the AAU began accrediting undergraduate education at its member and other schools. German universities used the "AAU Accepted List" to determine whether a college's graduates were qualified for graduate programs. Regional accreditation agencies existed in the U.S. by the 1920s, and the AAU ended accrediting schools in 1948. 
The AAU is made up of universities of varying sizes and missions who are committed to research. Today, 65 universities in the U.S. and Canada are members and the primary purpose of the organization is to provide a forum for the development and implementation of institutional and national policies, in order to promote strong programs in academic research and scholarship and undergraduate, graduate, and professional education.
The largest attraction of the AAU for many schools, especially nonmembers, is prestige. For example, in 2010 the chancellor of nonmember North Carolina State University described it as "the pre-eminent research-intensive membership group. To be a part of that organization is something N.C. State aspires to."  A spokesman for nonmember University of Connecticut called it "perhaps the most elite organization in higher education. You'd probably be hard-pressed to find a major research university that didn't want to be a member of the AAU."  In 2012, the new elected chancellor of University of Massachusetts Amherst, a nonmember of AAU, reaffirmed the framework goal of elevating the campus to AAU standards which inspire them to become a member in the near future, and called it a distinctive status.  Because of the lengthy and difficult entrance process, boards of trustees, state legislators, and donors often see membership as evidence of the quality of a university. 
The AAU acts as a lobbyist at its headquarters in the city of Washington, DC, for research and higher education funding and for policy and regulatory issues affecting research universities. The association holds two meetings annually, both in Washington. Separate meetings are held for university presidents, provosts, and other officials. Because the meetings are private, they offer the opportunity for discussion without media coverage. Prominent government officials, businessmen, and others often speak to the groups. 
|Thomas A. Bartlett||1977–1982|
|Robert M. Rosenzweig||1983–1993|
|Cornelius J. Pings||1993–1998|
|Robert M. Berdahl||2006–2011|
|Hunter R. Rawlings III||2011–2016|
|Mary Sue Coleman||2016–2020|
As of 2004 [update], AAU members accounted for 58 percent [b] of U.S. universities' research grants and contract income and 52 percent of all doctorates awarded in the United States. Since 1999, 43 percent of all Nobel Prize winners and 74 percent of winners at U.S. institutions have been affiliated with an AAU university. Approximately two-thirds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 2006 Class of Fellows are affiliated with an AAU university. The faculties at AAU universities include 2,993 members of the United States National Academies (82 percent of all members): the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine (2004). 
- Undergraduate students: 1,044,759; 7 percent nationally
- Undergraduate degrees awarded: 235,328; 17 percent nationally
- Graduate students: 418,066; 20 percent nationally
- Master's degrees awarded: 106,971; 19 percent nationally
- Professional degrees awarded: 20,859; 25 percent nationally
- Doctorates awarded: 22,747; 52 percent nationally
- Postdoctoral fellows: 30,430; 67 percent nationally
- Students studying abroad: 57,205
- National Merit/Achievement Scholars (2004): 5,434; 63 percent nationally
- Faculty: approximately 72,000
AAU membership is by invitation only, which requires an affirmative vote of three-fourths of current members. Invitations are considered periodically, based in part on an assessment of the breadth and quality of university programs of research and graduate education, as well as undergraduate education. The association ranks its members using four criteria: research spending, the percentage of faculty who are members of the National Academies, faculty awards, and citations. Two-thirds of members can vote to revoke membership for poor rankings.   As of 2010 [update] annual dues are $80,500.  All 63 U.S. members of the AAU are also classified as Highest Research Activity (R1) Universities by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
|Institution ||State or Province||Control||Established||Year joined||Total students||U.S. News Ranking (2020) ||Medical school
( LCME accredited)
( ABET accredited)
|Brown University||Rhode Island||Private||1764||1933||8,619||14|
|California Institute of Technology||California||Private||1891||1934||2,231||12||N|
|Carnegie Mellon University||Pennsylvania||Private||1900||1982||12,908||25||N|
|Case Western Reserve University||Ohio||Private||1826||1969||11,824||40|
|Columbia University||New York||Private||1754||1900||29,250||3|
|Cornell University||New York||Private||1865||1900||21,904||17|
|Dartmouth College||New Hampshire||Private||1769||2019 ||6,571||12|
|Duke University||North Carolina||Private||1838||1938||14,600||10|
|Emory University||Georgia||Private||1836||1995||14,513||21||N [c]|
|Georgia Institute of Technology||Georgia||Public||1885||2010||29,370||29||N|
|Indiana University Bloomington||Indiana||Public||1820||1909||42,731||79||N||N|
|Iowa State University||Iowa||Public||1858||1958||36,001||121||N|
|Johns Hopkins University||Maryland||Private||1876||1900||23,073||10|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology||Massachusetts||Private||1861||1934||11,319||3||N|
|McGill University||Quebec||Public||1821||1926||36,904||N/A [d]|
|Michigan State University||Michigan||Public||1855||1964||49,300||84|
|New York University||New York||Private||1831||1950||53,711||29|
|Ohio State University||Ohio||Public||1870||1916||57,466||54|
|Pennsylvania State University||Pennsylvania||Public||1855||1958||45,518||57|
|Princeton University||New Jersey||Private||1746||1900||8,010||1||N|
|Rutgers University–New Brunswick||New Jersey||Public||1766||1989||41,565||62|
|Stony Brook University||New York||Public||1957||2001||26,814||91|
|Texas A&M University||Texas||Public||1876||2001||62,185||70|
|The University of Arizona||Arizona||Public||1885||1985||40,223||117|
|University at Buffalo||New York||Public||1846||1989||30,183||79|
|University of California, Berkeley||California||Public||1868||1900||36,204||22||N|
|University of California, Davis||California||Public||1905||1996||34,175||39|
|University of California, Irvine||California||Public||1965||1996||29,588||36|
|University of California, Los Angeles||California||Public||1919||1974||42,163||20|
|University of California, San Diego||California||Public||1960||1982||30,310||37|
|University of California, Santa Barbara||California||Public||1944||1995||25,057||34||N|
|University of California, Santa Cruz||California||Public||1965||2019 ||19,457||84||N|
|The University of Chicago||Illinois||Private||1890||1900||14,954||6|
|University of Colorado Boulder||Colorado||Public||1876||1966||32,775||104||N|
|University of Florida||Florida||Public||1853||1985||49,042||34|
|University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign||Illinois||Public||1867||1908||44,520||48|
|The University of Iowa||Iowa||Public||1847||1909||31,065||84|
|The University of Kansas||Kansas||Public||1865||1909||27,983||130|
|University of Maryland, College Park||Maryland||Public||1856||1969||37,631||64||N|
|University of Michigan||Michigan||Public||1817||1900||43,426||25|
|University of Minnesota||Minnesota||Public||1851||1908||51,853||70|
|University of Missouri||Missouri||Public||1839||1908||35,441||139|
|University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill||North Carolina||Public||1789||1922||29,390||29||[e]|
|University of Oregon||Oregon||Public||1876||1969||22,980||104||N||N|
|University of Pennsylvania||Pennsylvania||Private||1740||1900||24,630||6|
|University of Pittsburgh||Pennsylvania||Public||1787||1974||28,649||57|
|University of Rochester||New York||Private||1850||1941||10,290||29|
|University of Southern California||California||Private||1880||1969||48,500||22|
|University of Texas at Austin||Texas||Public||1883||1929||51,000||48|
|University of Toronto||Ontario||Public||1827||1926||84,000||N/A [d]|
|University of Utah||Utah||Public||1850||2019  ||32,994||104|
|University of Virginia||Virginia||Public||1819||1904||24,360||28|
|University of Washington||Washington||Public||1861||1950||43,762||62|
|University of Wisconsin–Madison||Wisconsin||Public||1848||1900||43,275||46|
|Washington University in St. Louis||Missouri||Private||1853||1923||14,117||19|
- Catholic University of America (1900–2002)
- Departed as a result of "institutional emphases and energies" that differed from the other AAU members. 
- Clark University (1900–1999)
- Departed because of a shift in the AAU's emphasis to large research universities. 
- University of Nebraska–Lincoln (1909–2011)
- Removed from the AAU.  Chancellor Harvey Perlman said that the lack of an on-campus medical school (the Medical Center is a separate campus of the University of Nebraska system) and the AAU's disregarding of USDA-funded agricultural research in its metrics hurt the university's performance in the association's internal ranking system.  In 2010 Perlman stated that had Nebraska not been part of the AAU, the Big Ten Conference would likely not have invited it to become the athletic conference's 12th member. 
- Syracuse University (1966–2011)
- Because of a dispute over how to count nonfederal grants, Syracuse voluntarily withdrew from the AAU in 2011. The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that after "it became clear that Syracuse wouldn't meet the association's revised membership criteria, university officials decided that they would leave the organization voluntarily, rather than face a vote like Nebraska's, and notified the leadership of their intentions." 
In 2014, the AAU supported the proposed Research and Development Efficiency Act arguing that the legislation "can lead to a long-needed reduction in the regulatory burden currently imposed on universities and their faculty members who conduct research on behalf of the federal government."  According to the AAU, "too often federal requirements" for accounting for federal grant money "are ill-conceived, ineffective, and/or duplicative."  This wastes the researchers' times and "reduces the time they can devote to discovery and innovation and increases institutional compliance costs."  AAU institutions are frequently involved in U.S. science policy debates. In 2008, AAU Vice President for Policy, Tobin Smith, co-authored a textbook on U.S. science policy.
- The Association of American Universities was founded by University of California, Catholic University of America, The University of Chicago, Clark University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford University, University of Wisconsin, and Yale University, all of which were its first members. 
- Over $15.9 billion: NIH: $9.1 billion, 60 percent of total academic research funding. Research Funding: National Science Foundation: $2.0 billion, 63 percent of total academic research funding Department of Defense: $1.2 billion, 56 percent of total academic research funding Department of Energy: $505.2 million, 63 percent of total academic research funding NASA: $673.2 million, 57 percent of total academic research funding Department of Agriculture: $271.9 million, 41 percent of total academic research funding.
- Although Emory shares a joint engineering department with Georgia Tech, the program is accredited through Georgia Tech. 
- U.S. News & World Report rankings only include universities in the United States, so the two Canadian members of the AAU, McGill University and the University of Toronto, are not included.
- UNC shares a joint engineering department with NCSU. 
- "Colleges WIll Co-operate: Organization of the Association of American Universities". The Washington Post. March 1, 1900. p. 2.
- " Association Of American Colleges And Universities". Tax Exempt Organization Search. Internal Revenue Service. December 20, 2018.
- "Case Western President Named Head of AAU". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
- " The Letter of Invitation to the Founding Conference of AAU". Association of American Universities. January 1900.
- "For Uniform Requirements: Universities Will Fix Standard For Higher Degrees". The Baltimore Sun';. March 1, 1900. p. 2.
- "The Association of American Universities: A Century of Service to Higher Education 1900-2000". Association of American Universities. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
- Fain, Paul (April 21, 2010). "As AAU Admits Georgia Tech to Its Exclusive Club, Other Universities Await the Call". Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
- Hine, Chris (June 13, 2010). "Nebraska has it all to attract Big Ten, most importantly AAU membership". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
- UMass Amherst: Kumble R. Subbaswamy – Feature Story Archived July 11, 2012, at the Wayback Machine. Umass.edu (May 13, 2012). Retrieved on 2013-07-15.
- AAU Facts and Figures Archived September 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine. Accessed August 24, 2008.
- Abourezk, Kevin (April 29, 2011). "Research universities group ends UNL's membership". Lincoln Journal Star. Archived from the original on May 3, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
- Selingo, Jeffrey J. (April 29, 2011). "U. of Nebraska-Lincoln Is Voted Out of Assn. of American Universities". Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on May 2, 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011.
- "Member Institutions and Years of Admission". Association of American Universities. Archived from the original on October 26, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
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- "Accredited MD Programs in the United States". LCME. Liaison Committee on Medical Education. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
- "AAU Peer Institutions". Data Analytics. August 10, 2016. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
- "ABET ACCREDITED PROGRAM SEARCH". ABET. ABET. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
- "Dartmouth Joins the Association of American Universities | Dartmouth News". news.dartmouth.edu. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
- "Accreditation and Assessment". Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology & Emory University School of Medicine. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
- Hernandez-Jason, Scott (November 6, 2019).
"Radical excellence: UC Santa Cruz joins Association of American Universities". UC Santa Cruz. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
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- "Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering". Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering @ UNC & NC State. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
- "The U invited to join the Association of American Universities | @theU".
- "Three Leading Research Universities Join the Association of American Universities (AAU)".
- O'Connell, The Most Rev. David M. (2002). "From the President's Desk". The Catholic University of America. Archived from the original on June 1, 2013. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- Peter Schmidt, "Clark U. Leaves Association of American Universities; Others May Follow" (September 10, 1999). Chronicle of Higher Education.
- Selingo, Jeffrey J.; Stripling, Jack (May 2, 2011). "Nebraska's Ouster Opens a Painful Debate Within the AAU". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved December 7, 2019.
- Selingo, Jeffrey J. (May 2, 2011). "Facing an Ouster From an Elite Group of Universities, Syracuse U. Says It Will Withdraw". Chronicle of Higher Education. Archived from the original on May 4, 2011. Retrieved May 3, 2011.
- "AAU Statement on the Research and Development Efficiency Act". Association of American Universities. July 14, 2014. Archived from the original on July 25, 2014. Retrieved July 17, 2014.