Purdue University

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Updated August 6, 2020

Founded as a land-grant institution in 1869, Purdue University started classes in 1874 with 39 students and six instructors. At the time, the school was an agricultural and mechanical institution that had been established under the terms of President Lincoln's Merrill Act of 1862. The school's athletes are called "the Boilermakers" as a result of an 1891 allegation that the university was recruiting athletes from local boiler shops. Over the past 140 years, Purdue has accomplished many achievements, including founding the first radio station in the state of Indiana in 1922.

Purdue University boasts a wide range of rankings and awards from various publications, among them U.S. News and World Report. The publication has ranked the school at a tie for 61st place in its list of the best schools in the country. Individually ranked programs at the school include graduate degrees in education, management and engineering. The university's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics is referred to as "Cradle of Astronauts." Notable alumni of Purdue include Neil Armstrong, Orville Redenbacher and John Wooden.

Just over 29,000 students attend the school each year, majoring in a variety of programs from 12 distinct academic colleges. Students enjoy a low student-to-faculty ratio of 13:1. About 39 percent of classes have fewer than 20 students enrolled. The freshmen retention rate is nearly 92 percent. Applicants should also note that the school is more selective than other public schools. The fall 2014 acceptance rate was about 59 percent. The five most popular majors are engineering, business, the liberal arts, agriculture and education.

Purdue University Accreditation

The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has continually accredited Purdue University since 1913 for the purpose of offering four-year degrees. Several of the school's individual programs also hold accreditation from their respective accrediting agencies. For example, the biomedical engineering undergraduate program offered by the university's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET.

Purdue University Application Requirements

Purdue University has a rolling admission, which means that students can apply at different points throughout the year depending on their program. Application requirements vary based on a student's enrollment status and specific major. For first-time freshmen, the school requires the completion of the Common Application, including the essay and university-specific questions. The school evaluates applicants based on several factors, including:

  • Accomplishments, such as standardized test scores
  • Students' backgrounds and how likely they are to succeed in a program
  • Academics, including class rank, high school course load and GPA

The time of year and space limitations in a specific program may also factor into the admissions office's decision about acceptance. Purdue also encourages students to submit a letter of recommendation. It should also be noted that Indiana residents have priority over out-of-state applicants. Graduate applicants need to submit transcripts of all previous schools, an online application and a nonrefundable fee of $60. Additional documentation may be required for different programs. Transfer students and international students should consult the school's admissions page to learn more about specific application requirements.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Students who are enrolled in at least eight credit hours per semester at the main campus in West Lafayette pay a flat rate for tuition and fees. In-state undergraduates will pay about $5,000 per semester as of the 2016-2017 academic year. Nonresident students pay about $14,400 per semester. The same rates apply to graduate students. Certain programs charge alternate or additional fees. For instance, resident engineering undergraduates will pay just over $6,000 per semester. In-state candidates for the Doctor of Nursing pay $725 per credit hour. Students should check with individual programs for information on specific costs.

For students who need financial assistance to pay for college, Purdue offers federal student aid, such as loans and work-study opportunities, as well as scholarships and grants. Need-based scholarships include:

  • The LaVerne Noyes Scholarship
  • The Barbara Cooper Clark Memorial Scholarship
  • The Order of Amaranth Scholarship
  • The Robert and Florence Bookwalter Memorial Scholarship

There are also several merit scholarships and awards based on leadership qualities, service and special interests. To check eligibility for assistance, applicants will need to submit the Free Application for Federal Financial Aid or FAFSA by March 1 of the year that they'll be attending school.

Research in Focus: Birck Nanotechnology Center

Unique to Purdue is the Birck Nanotechnology Center, a revolutionary laboratory system developed specifically for studying fields of science related to nanotechnology, including crystal growth, electrical characterization, precision micromachining, nanophotonics and bionanotechnology.

Opened in July 2005, the center staffs 45 faculty and 21 clerical staff members in a facility that spans across 186,000 square feet. The center can accommodate up to 180 graduate candidates. Students here have access to world-class equipment, state-of-the art labs and a designated cleanroom. The nanofabrication cleanroom, classified as 1-10-100, comprises 25,000 square feet and includes a separate gowning area and entrance with isolated airflow.

According to the program's website, the Birck Nanotechnology Center was created to "support multidisciplinary research in nanotechnology and to foster interaction between researchers and research disciplines." The dual purpose of research conducted here is to apply nanotechnology to the "fundamental questions in the life and physical sciences" and to use emerging technology and innovation to solve problems related to the environment, communications, computing, security and health.

There are four research groups housed at Birck: Nanoelectronics and Semiconductor Devices, Nanophotonics and Optics, Bionanotechnology and Nanomedicine, and Energy Conversion & Heat Transfer. Each group focuses on varying sub-fields that relate to the concept of "nano." For example, Nanoelectronics and Semiconductor Devices deals with the growing trend among electronics manufacturers to create smaller devices that use nanotechnology. Researchers in this group study the impact of nanotechnology on today's consumer electronics.

Those who want detailed information about the center's ongoing research can read more about individual groups by visiting the department's website containing different publications, which are available to the public. Birck also hosts "Nano Days," educational events designed specifically for children and young adults to learn more about nanotechnology. Students who pursue programs at Birck will appreciate that Purdue University is a premier research facility that encourages innovation in science and technology, among other significant industries.

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