Introduction to UMSL

The University of Missouri-St. Louis is one of four campuses that constitute the University of Missouri. Established in Columbia in 1839 on the ideals of Thomas Jefferson, the University of Missouri became a land-grant institution upon passage of the Morrill Act by Congress in 1862.

The university remained a single-campus institution until 1870, when the Rolla campus was opened. In the 1960s a movement began across the country to create public universities in metropolitan centers. That movement marked the most significant change in higher education in the twentieth century, and the University of Missouri­St. Louis is a product of that effort. Two metropolitan campuses were added to the University of Missouri System in 1963. The private University of Kansas City became the university's Kansas City campus, and an entirely new campus was started in St. Louis.

The notion of a major public institution serving the St. Louis area evolved from a dream to a reality, which today exceeds the expectations of those who created it. Since the doors of the old Administration Building opened over 40 years ago, UMSL has become the largest university serving St. Louisans and the third largest university in the state. To provide excellent learning experiences and learning opportunities for a diverse student body,  our outstanding faculty and staff, innovative research, and creative partnerships foster synergies of knowledge and skills that advance the welfare of our stakeholders and benefit the global society.

One of the keys to this university's development as an outstanding institution has been the careful selection of faculty over the years. These professionals develop new theories and new procedures, and in so doing attract millions of dollars each year in research funding.

Student enrollment has grown from 600 in 1963 to more than 15,500. The numbers have changed, but not the spirit. Faculty and students are still most concerned with the education of new talent, which is the basis for the future social, intellectual, and economic health of Missouri's largest metropolitan area. From its beginning on what was once the site of a country club with a single building, UMSL has grown to a large modern campus of more than 320 acres with more than 60 buildings used to support academic and other University activities.

The curriculum has grown to include undergraduate, master's programs, professional , educational specialist, and doctoral programs. Numerous opportunities exist for students to combine their academic course work with internships with our community partners and area organizations that often lead to career opportunities.

Mission and Values


The University Missouri-St. Louis will be known as a premier metropolitan public research university and as a university of choice for undergraduate, graduate and professional students.


The University of Missouri-St. Louis provides excellent learning experiences and leadership opportunities for a diverse student body. Outstanding faculty and staff, innovative research, and creative partnerships foster synergies that advance the welfare of our stakeholders and benefit the global society.


We believe excellence in research and creative achievement results from original thinking that advances fields of study and is recognized externally. Excellence also refers to paying serious attention to individual student learning needs and maintaining the highest academic standards, using multiple approaches to facilitate learning, engaging in ongoing assessment of student learning and improvement of the quality of learning experience.

We expect the highest ethical standards in all aspects of the educational experience and foster throughout the campus community the strongest commitment to respect, dignity, honesty and freedom in individuals’ academic, professional and civic lives.


We value collaboration among students, organizations and engage in research and teaching to improve the quality of life. Collaboration develops graduates who contribute in meaningful ways to a diverse global society. Interdisciplinary research generates novel ways of resolving problems and building new knowledge.

We value accessto excellent education, engagement in cutting edge research, and dedication to University, community, andprofessional service as a means to develop the future of our region, state, nation and world. A focus on opportunity helps develop responsible citizens who contribute to quality of life and who represent the diversity of the community and the world we serve.

We value diversity among faculty, staff, and students and recognize its essential contribution to campus culture. Different cultural, intellectual, socioeconomic and regional perspectives add substantially to understanding, richness of debate, intellectual inquiry and knowledge development.

We value the financial, physical and human resources entrusted to us and exercise care in employing them.  We cultivate the trust, loyalty and good will of stakeholders, whose assets allow us to pursue our educational mission.

Strategic Direction
This strategic plan is guided by the following strategic themes.

As a public research university located in the St. Louis metropolitan area, we offer a unique synergy created through our innovative research, quality learning environment, diverse students and faculty, and creative collaborations which develops our students’ ability to thrive in a diverse and rapidly changing world.  We will continue to enhance our position as the premier educator of the workforce of St. Louis and we will extend our reputation for quality education within and beyond the region.

We will leverage our core strength of attracting the non-traditional and transfer student population, finding ways to enhance our attractiveness to them and working with the feeder schools to improve their preparation.  At the same time, we will seek to grow the first time/ full time student enrollment to further enhance our reputation in the community as a ‘university of choice’ and contribute to the vitality of the campus culture.  We will meet the growing demand for graduate education by positioning ourselves to serve this demographic.

The diversity of our student population and the richness of the diverse campus culture create an experience for our students that prepares them for a diverse and rapidly changing world, serves as a pipeline for businesses and organizations who seek employee diversity, and prepares students as leaders in a diverse workforce.

We will build on our growing reputation for research excellence and our university, units within the university and our faculty will be nationally and internationally known for excellence in research and creative activity.  We will recognize, reward and celebrate the campus-wide impact of individual and unit success.

We will leverage our location in the St. Louis metropolitan region by being unsurpassed as the regional leader in creative collaboration with area businesses and community organizations.  We will continue to have significant influence on economic development in the region and beyond through collaborations, consulting and continuing education.

We will find ways to enhance campus life and increase on campus residents.  A major focus will be to further improve the ‘convenience’ and the ‘quality of experience’ as perceived by our students.  Convenience includes such things as ease of the admission process, class availability, convenient scheduling, adequate parking with handicap access, quality facilities and accessible technology.  Quality experience includes such things as; collaborative learning opportunities, a high level of student faculty interaction, a supportive campus environment that entices students to spend more time on campus,

the right academic challenge that conveys to students that they are getting an education not just a degree and enriched educational experiences such as international educational opportunities, research, internships and practicum.

We will be wise stewards of our scarce resources by leveraging collaborative research and creativity, both internally and externally, and holding ourselves accountable. 

We will communicate the compelling message of our strengths and our position in the region through our leadership councils, alumni, faculty, staff, students and other friends of the university in a way that dramatically increases fundraising, grants and other forms of contributed support. And we will continue to engage our loyal alumni who are committed to strengthening our region as leaders in their fields.

The Strategic Priorities and Key Initiatives outlined in the following pages define our approach for moving in this direction.

Strategic Priorities

Academic Structure

UMSL's academic units include the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business Administration, College of Education, College of Fine Arts and Communication, Graduate School, Pierre Laclede Honors College, College of Nursing, College of Optometry, School of Social Work, UMSL/Washington University Joint Engineering Program, and the Division of Continuing Education.

College of Arts and Sciences
Classes in the College of Arts and Sciences, the campus' oldest and largest college, offer students the opportunity to learn from internationally renowned faculty members, engage in creative and critical thinking, learn to appreciate pattern in complexity, reflect on important issues of the past and present, and hone their ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing. Across the curriculum, the College emphasizes “Learning through Research,” an approach in which students actively identify and analyze a variety of intellectual approaches and forms of information. Alumni of the College of Arts and Sciences include physicians, lawyers, teachers, political leaders, scientists, corporate executives, college and university faculty, psychologists, social workers, and a host of other professionals.

College of Business Administration
Through its undergraduate and graduate degree programs, the College of Business Administration expands student capability in communication, analysis, and judgment, enabling its graduates to deal effectively with today's complex economic environment. The college maintains a balance between the specialization of professional courses and the diversity of liberal arts.

College of Education
Consistently one of the top two institutions in the state in preparation of educators, the College of Education provides undergraduate and graduate programs to support and sustain educational leaders. Its programs emphasize state-of-the-art technological applications to enhance teaching and learning as well as collaboration among university, school, agency, and corporate partners.

College of Fine Arts and Communication
The College includes the departments of Art and Art History, Communication, Music, and Theatre, Dance and Media Studies. The faculty and alumni of the College have distinguished themselves as scholars, visual artists, teachers and performers. The University’s $55 million Performing Arts Center that opened in the fall of 2003 provides two world-class venues for performances. In addition, three galleries offer space for display of student and faculty artwork as well as visiting exhibitions.

Graduate School
Programs offered in the Graduate School fall into two categories: professional programs designed to develop a special competence in a particular field and academic programs designed to develop the student's command of a range of related subjects within a field. These graduate programs are structured to meet the needs of the metropolitan area and to give students the skills and professional competence to succeed.

College of Optometry
The College of Optometry is one of 17 such programs in the United States providing professional optometric education and clinical experience. Facilities are furnished with equipment and technology for the enhancement of both teaching and research. The college operates the University Eye Center on campus, the Optometric Center of St. Louis in the city's Central West End, the Harvester Eye Care Center in St. Charles County, and the East St. Louis Eye Center, jointly owned and operated by the UMSL College of Optometry and Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville.

Pierre Laclede Honors College
Students in the Pierre Laclede Honors College major in any of the campus's undergraduate program, and share a commitment to a challenging, innovative general education curriculum. In the Honors College, students and faculty work together to foster an intellectual climate in which democracy, diversity, civility and excellence are fundamental values. The Honors program offers small seminars that emphasize critical reading and open discussion upon which students base essays and research papers. Honors College students are also encouraged to consider exchange study, whether abroad through the Center for International Studies or in the USA or Canada through the National Student Exchange

College of Nursing
The College of Nursing offers programs at the bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is available for a student wishing to pursue a program of study leading to eligibility to complete state licensure examinations to become a registered nurse (R.N.). Registered nurses with an associate degree or a hospital based diploma may obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (B.S.N.) without repeating basic nursing course work. The Master of Science in Nursing offers studies in adult, children's, and women's health along with nurse educator and nurse leader tracks. Nurse practitioner options are also available (adult, family, pediatric, and women) as part of the MSN program. Doctoral students may choose between the Doctor of Nursing Practice or the Ph.D. in Nursing.

UMSL/Washington University Joint Undergraduate Engineering Program
The University of Missouri‑St. Louis and Washington University have joined forces to offer ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science degrees in mechanical, electrical, and civil engineering. Students who enter the program take about half of their course work--mathematics, physics, chemistry, humanities and social sciences, and some elementary engineering subjects--on the UMSL campus. The remaining half consists of upper-level engineering courses and laboratories taken on the Washington University. Students register for all courses at UMSL, pay tuition at UMSL rates (plus a small surcharge on engineering courses), and receive their degrees from the University of Missouri.

Division of Continuing Education
Through the Division of Continuing Education the research-based knowledge of our excellent faculty is brought to the citizens of the greater St. Louis metropolitan area at times and places and in formats that meet the lifelong learning needs of our adult students. Partnerships with a number of community, cultural, and educational institutions provide greater access to public higher education and to the resources of our fine campus. Continuing Education provides a wide variety of credit courses and noncredit professional development programs that can help adults keep abreast of new developments in their field, prepare them for a career in a new field of endeavor, or enrich their personal and family life. Courses leading to degree-completion programs are also offered at the St. Louis Community College South County Education and University Center, St. Louis Community College at Wildwood, and on the campuses of St. Charles Community College, Jefferson College and Mineral Area College.

Student Life
Although UMSL provides opportunities for all students through a demanding curriculum, the life of the university is not all work. There are a great many leisure activities, either free or at reduced cost to students. Numerous student organizations, from the Accounting Club to Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, seek members and leaders. Interesting speakers, concerts, film series, plays, exhibits, recitals, and a host of informal gatherings crowd each week's schedule. The St. Louis area offers still more recreational sports and cultural events.

The university offers a wide range of varsity and intramural sports for students, whether as players or spectators. On the varsity level, the Tritons compete in most major sports. UMSL men's soccer teams have participated in numerous NCAA Division II tournaments; the team won the national title in 1973. The men's basketball, baseball, and golf teams frequently play in national tournaments. The expanding women's program includes varsity competition in basketball, soccer, softball, volleyball, and tennis. The women's soccer team ranks annually in the top 20 teams nationwide.

The Mark Twain athletic facility offers a fitness center, weight room, swimming pool, and basketball, volleyball, handball, and racquetball courts. Outdoor facilities include tennis and handball courts, a fitness trail, and baseball, soccer, and softball fields. Students will find fitness activities, both organized and individual, to suit their interests and needs. Intramural sports are available to all students, with schedules designed for maximum participation.

Office of International Student and Scholar Services
The Office of International Student and Scholar Services assists international students and scholars with undergraduate and graduate admission, credential and transfer credit evaluations, visa and immigration advising, taxation matters, pre-arrival and cultural adaptation assistance, new international student and scholar orientation, prospective student information requests, and personal advising. The office also coordinates activities for integration of students and scholars into the community by facilitating cultural events and activities, coordinating the annual International Week, and working closely with other campus and community organizations.

Student Insurance: International Students (required)
International students in F-1 and J-1 status are required to purchase the health insurance policy offered through the university. Information regarding waivers, premiums, and coverage is available through the Office of International Student and Scholar Services.

Multicultural Relations
The Office of Multicultural Relations supports the University's goal of academic success and student retention and provides resources to meet the individual needs of the student. Cognizant of the unique challenges facing the minority population, MCR provides or supports such services as new student orientation, mentoring, tutoring, academic counseling, career exploration, and leadership development. Workshops and seminars foster a greater awareness of the University and its resources and promote cultural awareness.

The Office of Transfer Services and Articulation
The mission of the Office of Transfer Services and Articulation is twofold: retention and recruitment of transfer students. The office is committed to promoting and facilitating the positive engagement and successful integration of its diverse transfer student population into the UMSL student body and to craft a seamless program to program articulation between UMSL and Missouri's two-year institutions, that working in tandem, create clear pathways to academic success for transfer students.


The graduates of UMSL reflect the diversity found in a metropolitan community. The university has more than 70,000 graduates living in all 50 states and several foreign countries. Of these alumni, more than 80 percent live and work in the St. Louis metropolitan area. The university is a major force in providing the region with a highly educated and diverse work force. UMSL alumni can be found in companies and organizations throughout the region and nation.