The Texas A&M University System was created by the Texas Legislature in 1948 to manage the evolution of a statewide educational, research and service system. Its roots lie in the founding of what are now Texas A&M University and Prairie View A&M University as land-grant colleges in 1876. Today, the Texas A&M System provides oversight and leadership for 11 universities, seven state agencies and a health science center. Its role is governed by the state’s education code (Title 3, chiefly Ch. 51, Sec. 51.353 and Ch. 85, Sec. 85.17). Responsibilities include systemwide planning, coordination and execution of the policies of The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.
John Tarleton Agricultural College at Stephenville (now Tarleton State University) joined an earlier form of the A&M System in 1917. Tarleton State University-Central Texas, an upper-level institution offering bachelor's and master's degrees, was established in Killeen in 1999.
The Galveston Marine Laboratory joined with the Texas Maritime Academy in the 1960s to form Texas A&M University at Galveston, Texas A&M’s marine studies branch. Texas A&M University at Qatar was established in 2003 to bring engineering programs and research to the Gulf Region by establishing a branch campus in an area called Education City in Doha, Qatar. Education City is a 2,400-acre multi-university campus housing various American universities.
In 1989, the A&M System increased its presence in South Texas with the addition of Texas A&M International University (formerly Laredo State University) in Laredo, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (formerly Corpus Christi State University) and Texas A&M University-Kingsville (formerly Texas A&I University). The Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees, was opened in 2000.
In 1990, West Texas State University in the Texas Panhandle city of Canyon joined the A&M System, changing its name to West Texas A&M University in 1993.
In 1996, three other institutions joined the A&M System: Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas and two former East Texas State University campuses, now Texas A&M University-Commerce and Texas A&M University-Texarkana.
The Texas A&M Health Science Center, also established in 1999, has campuses in Bryan/College Station, Dallas, Temple, Houston, Round Rock, Kingsville, Corpus Christi, and McAllen. Its six colleges are the Baylor College of Dentistry, the College of Medicine, the College of Nursing, the School of Graduate Studies, the Irma Lerma Rangel College of Pharmacy and the School of Rural Public Health. Other units include the Institute of Biosciences and Technology and the Coastal Bend Health Education Center.
In 2009, Tarleton State University System Center-Central Texas became a standalone university, Texas A&M University-Central Texas. That same year, Texas A&M University-Kingsville System Center-San Antonio also became a standalone university, Texas A&M University-San Antonio.
The A&M System’s first state agency reflected its agricultural heritage and mission. Established by the Texas Legislature in 1887 under the federal Hatch Act, Texas A&M AgriLife Research (formerly the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station) continues to represent a unique state-federal partnership in agricultural research. Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service (formerly the Texas Agricultural Extension Service) grew out of the agricultural initiatives of Texas A&M University under the provisions of the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which provided for cooperative agricultural extension work between Texas land-grant colleges and the United States Department of Agriculture. The Texas Forest Service was established in 1914 to develop and protect the forested areas of Texas.
The Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station was also created in 1914 with a research and technology transfer mission for the field of engineering. The Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service was established five years later with a charge to help develop a highly skilled workforce through technical and vocational training. The Texas A&M Transportation Institute, created in 1950, conducts highway, safety and other transportation-related research.