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The Association of American Universities (AAU) is an organization of leading research universities devoted to maintaining a strong system of academic research and education. It consists of sixty universities in the United Statesmarker (both public and private) and two universities in Canadamarker.


AAU was founded in 1900 by a group of fourteen Ph.D.-granting universities in the United States to strengthen and standardize American doctoral programs. Today, the primary purpose of the AAU 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 AAU holds two annual meetings. The fall meeting is conducted on a member campus while the spring meeting is held in the headquarters city of Washington, D.C.marker


Executive Term
Thomas A. Bartlett 1977 – 1982
Robert M. Rosenzweig 1983 – 1993
Cornelius J. Pings 1993 – 1998
Nils Hasselmo July 1, 1998 – April, 2006
Robert M. Berdahl May, 2006 – present


As of 2004, AAU members accounted for 58% of U.S. universities' research grants and contract income and 52% of all doctorates awarded in the United States. Since 1999, 43% of all Nobel Prize winners and 74% of winners at U.S. institutions have been affiliated with an AAU university. Approximately two-thirds of the American Academy of Arts and Sciencesmarker 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% of all members): the National Academy of Sciencesmarker, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine (2004).

  • Undergraduate students: 1,044,759; 7% nationally
  • Undergraduate degrees awarded: 235,328; 17% nationally
  • Graduate students: 418,066; 20% nationally
  • Master’s awarded: 106,971; 19% nationally
  • Professional Degrees: 20,859; 25% nationally
  • Doctorates awarded: 22,747; 52% nationally
  • Postdoctoral Fellows: 30,430; 67% nationally
  • Students Studying Abroad: 57,205
  • National Merit/Achievement Scholars (2004): 5,434; 63% 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. Founding members are bolded, and year of admission is shown in parentheses.

Public (34)

Private (26)

Canadian (2)

Former members

Departed as a result of "institutional emphases and energies" [382827] that differed from the other AAU members.
Departed because its "goals diverged from the strong research orientation of other AAU institutions".[382828]

Notes and references

  1. Over $15.9 billion: NIH: $9.1 billion, 60% of total academic research funding. Research Funding: National Science Foundation: $2.0 billion, 63% of total academic research funding Department of Defense: $1.2 billion, 56% of total academic research funding Department of Energy: $505.2 million, 63% of total academic research funding NASA: $673.2 million, 57% of total academic research funding Department of Agriculture: $271.9 million, 41% of total academic research funding
  2. AAU Facts and Figures. Accessed August 24, 2008.

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