World of Research and Innovation at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, FL


Florida Atlantic University: A Growing Legacy

A Thriving Academic Environment

Florida Atlantic University (FAU), a public research university, has established itself as an important educational institution in South Florida.

Offering over 180 degree programs across 10 colleges, FAU is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and classified as an “R2: Doctoral University – High research activity.”

Expanding Student Body and Impact

Initially enrolling only 867 students in 1964, FAU has grown to accommodate over 30,000 students from various backgrounds. With an annual budget of $900 million and an economic impact of $6.3 billion, the university has awarded degrees to over 185,000 alumni since its inception.

Athletic Accomplishments

FAU’s Florida Atlantic Owls sports team competes in NCAA Division I and the Conference USA. In 2023, they will join the American Athletic Conference (AAC), further showcasing their athletic achievements.

FAU: A Chronicle of Resilience and Expansion

From Military Base to Educational Institution

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) was established in 1961 in Boca Raton, built on the land of a former World War II-era army airbase, the Boca Raton Army Airfield.

The airfield’s land was mainly acquired from Japanese-American farmers of the Yamato Colony through eminent domain during the early days of World War II.

The University’s Inception and Expansion

FAU opened its doors on September 14, 1964, with 867 students across five colleges. From its beginnings as a university serving only upper-division and graduate students, FAU expanded by:

  • Opening a Fort Lauderdale campus in 1971
  • Admitting lower-division undergraduate students in 1984
  • Adding a third campus in downtown Fort Lauderdale in 1985
  • Designated as the lead state university serving Broward County in 1989
  • Establishing campuses in Dania Beach, Davie, and Port St. Lucie
  • Opening the Jupiter Campus in 1999, housing the university’s honors college

Medical Education and Oceanographic Research

Collaborating with the University of Miami’s Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, FAU established a medical training program in the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science in 2004.

FAU later established its own College of Medicine in 2010. In 2007, the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution (HBOI) joined FAU, expanding its research endeavors.

A Modern, Expansive University

FAU has grown exponentially, with over 30,000 students, seven campuses, and ten colleges since its founding. The university’s endowment has increased to over $240 million as of 2020 and has been led by seven presidents.

FAU's Social Science Building
“Florida Atlantic University – Social Science Building” by Kmgcoolguy4 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Florida Atlantic University: Academic Excellence and Diversity

Student Body and Academic Programs

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) has a diverse student body of over 28,000 students, with 61% ethnic minorities and representation from more than 180 countries.

The university comprises ten colleges that offer over 180 different degree programs. FAU also provides two honors options: the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College and the University Scholars Program.

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Class Sizes and Graduation Rates

FAU maintains an average undergraduate class size of 33 students and a graduate class size of 12 students. The student-to-faculty ratio is 20:1.

The 2021 average 4-year graduation rate was 47.5%. The university offers enrichment opportunities, including internships, hands-on research, study abroad experiences, and over 310 clubs and campus organizations.


In 2023, U.S. News & World Report ranked FAU as the 132nd-best public university in the United States and 263rd overall among all public and private national universities.

The undergraduate nursing, business, and engineering programs were ranked 93rd, 164th, and 165th nationally. The university was also named one of the “Best Southeastern Colleges” by the Princeton Review for 2023.

FAU: Advancing Research and Innovation

Carnegie Foundation Classification and Research Partnerships

The Carnegie Foundation classifies Florida Atlantic University as a research university with high research activity.

FAU has established significant partnerships with renowned research institutions, including the Scripps Research Institute, Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies, and the Max Planck Society.

Centers of Excellence and Funding

FAU hosts two centers of excellence: the Center of Excellence in Biomedical and Marine Biotechnology and the Center for Ocean Energy Technology.

These centers have received grants from Florida’s Emerging Technology Commission, out-competing other top research universities in the state. FAU has also secured additional funding from federal and private research grants, leading to academic and industry partnerships.

Cutting-Edge Research and Development

Researchers at FAU are involved in innovative projects, such as designing technologies for ocean exploration, renewable energy harvesting, new medicine discovery, and bioterrorism therapeutics development.

In 2007, FAU and Lockheed Martin announced an exclusive agreement to develop and produce an autonomous mooring buoy system for military and scientific uses.

In 2010, the US Department of Energy designated FAU as one of three national ocean energy research and development centers. The Southeast National Marine Renewable Energy Center generates renewable power from ocean currents and thermal energy.

Imaging Technology Centers and Research Park

FAU houses the Imaging Technology Center and the NASA Imaging Technology Space Center, specializing in digital imaging research and development.

The Florida Atlantic Imaging Technology Center is developing a unique digital imaging and processing curriculum, while the NASA Imaging Technology Center is one of 12 NASA Research Partnership Centers nationwide.

FAU is affiliated with the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University, which operates the Technology Business Incubator to foster the growth of technology-based businesses and build relationships with the university. The Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences is also at the Boca Raton campus.

Florida Atlantic University: A Multi-Campus Academic Hub

Campus Distribution and Sustainability Commitment

Florida Atlantic University is spread across six campuses in Palm Beach, Broward, and St. Lucie counties, serving a region with over three million people.

FAU is committed to sustainability and is a signatory of the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. This commitment ensures that all new construction projects meet the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Silver standards.

Palm Beach County Campuses

Boca Raton

FAU’s main campus in Boca Raton, established in 1964, spans 850 acres and is designated as a burrowing owl sanctuary. It serves approximately 19,077 students (70% of the university’s student body) and houses various academic programs, facilities, and services.

Jupiter – John D. MacArthur Campus

The John D. MacArthur Campus in Jupiter serves around 1,262 students (4% of the university’s student body). The campus is home to the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, Scripps Florida, the FAU Brain Institute, and the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience.

FAU's Parliament Hall
“Florida Atlantic University – Parliament Hall” by Kmgcoolguy4 is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Broward County Campuses

Dania Beach – SeaTech

SeaTech, established in 1997, is an ocean engineering research center that serves around 70 students (1% of the university’s student body).


FAU’s Davie Campus serves approximately 3,488 students (13% of the university’s student body). The campus offers undergraduate degrees in over 14 disciplines and features a multi-story student union, a shared childcare center, and a student wellness center.

Fort Lauderdale

FAU’s Fort Lauderdale Campus consists of two buildings in downtown Fort Lauderdale, serving around 900 students (3.2% of the university’s student body). It offers communication, graphic design, architecture, and urban and regional planning courses.

St. Lucie County Campus

Fort Pierce – Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

FAU operates a campus in Fort Pierce at the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, which merged with the university in 2007.

Distance Learning Students

FAU has 1,600 distance-learning students, accounting for 6% of the university’s student body, who conduct their studies online or by other means.

FAU Football Stadium
“Florida Atlantic University Football Stadium” by KingCalebTheFirst is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Florida Atlantic University Athletics and Traditions

Athletics: The Florida Atlantic Owls

Florida Atlantic’s 19 varsity sports teams, known as the Owls, compete in NCAA’s Division I. The university’s athletics program began in 1979, and the Owls joined Conference USA in the 2013–14 season.

On October 21, 2021, Florida Atlantic accepted an invitation to join the American Athletic Conference (AAC) and will become a full member on July 1, 2023. The university’s colors are FAU Blue, FAU Red, and FAU Silver.

Annual Football Bonfire

Before the first football game of each season, FAU’s Student Government Association sponsors the annual football “Bonfire,” where the opposing team’s mascot is burned in effigy. This event usually includes a concert and a speech by the university’s head football coach.

Shula Bowl

The annual Shula Bowl is an intercollegiate football game between FAU and its rival, Florida International (FIU), named after legendary coach Don Shula. The Shula Bowl occurs at the university’s stadium or the FIU Stadium, depending on whether it is a home or away game.

Red Hot Madness and Stroll Off

For basketball, the “Red Hot Madness and Stroll Off” pep rally introduces fans to the team and coaches, hosts basketball-related contests, and features step performances by the school’s National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities.

Bury the Burrow in Red

During the regular basketball season, the “Bury the Burrow in Red” event encourages Florida Atlantic students to wear as much red as possible and fill the Burrow, the university’s multi-purpose arena, during the annual basketball rivalry game between Florida Atlantic and Florida International University.

Spirit Groups and Fan Clubs

  • prOWLers: The official spirit group supporting Florida Atlantic athletics, founded in February 2002.
  • Owl Rangers is a fan group that paints their bodies in the Florida Atlantic school colors.
  • hOWLetts: A student club that attends gameday events and assists in recruiting athletes.

Owl Fingers

Since 2002, Florida Atlantic students have been using Owl Fingers (the “OK” hand sign) to show school pride and wish the athletic teams luck during football point-after attempts (PATs) and basketball free throws.

FAU Baldwin House
“Florida Atlantic University Baldwin House” by KnightLago at English Wikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

20 Outstanding FAU Alumni: A Legacy of Achievement

Yolanda Griffith

Yolanda Griffith is a professional basketball player who has made her mark in the WNBA. Known for her outstanding athletic abilities on the court, Griffith has inspired many aspiring athletes with her dedication and skill.

Brittany Bowe

An Olympic Long Track Speedskater medalist for Team USA, Brittany Bowe holds the world record for the 1,000-meter event. Her exceptional talent and perseverance have led her to the pinnacle of her sport, making her a role model for aspiring speed skaters worldwide.

Tecia Torres

Tecia Torres is a professional mixed martial artist who competes in the UFC Strawweight division. With her impressive fighting skills and unwavering determination, Torres has become a prominent figure in MMA.

John Franklin III

John Franklin III, a professional football player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, gained notoriety through the Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U.” His journey from college football to the NFL has been an inspiring tale for fans of the sport.

Christopher McKay

As a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, Christopher McKay has significantly contributed to our understanding of the universe. His work exploring the cosmos has helped expand humanity’s knowledge of the planets and beyond.

Carrie P. Meek

U.S. Congresswoman Carrie P. Meek, a political trailblazer, has represented Florida’s 17th district in the U.S. Congress. As a dedicated public servant, Meek’s work has had a lasting impact on her constituents and the nation.

Daniel A. Mica

Daniel A. Mica, a former U.S. Congressman, has played a crucial role in American politics throughout his career. He currently serves as the President and CEO of the Credit Union National Association, where he continues to make a difference in the financial industry.

Carol W. Hunstein

Presiding Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, Carol W. Hunstein, has had a distinguished career in the legal field. Her dedication to upholding the law has been significant in the justice system.

Luis Alberto Moreno

As the 4th President of the Inter-American Development Bank, Luis Alberto Moreno has been a leading figure in international finance. His work has helped promote sustainable development and economic growth throughout the Americas.

Wilson G. Bradshaw

Wilson G. Bradshaw, the President of Florida Gulf Coast University, has significantly impacted higher education in the state. Under his leadership, the university has grown and thrived, providing opportunities for countless students.

Chris Carrabba

Singer-songwriter Chris Carrabba is best known for his work with the band Dashboard Confessional. His emotive lyrics and passionate performances have resonated with fans worldwide, making him a celebrated figure in the music industry.

Carrot Top (Scott Thompson)

Actor and stand-up comedian Scott Thompson, better known as Carrot Top, has brought laughter to audiences worldwide with his unique humor. His successful entertainment career has made him a household name.

Mark Zupan

Captain of the United States quadriplegic wheelchair rugby team, Mark Zupan, has proven that physical limitations do not define a person’s potential. His athletic prowess and unwavering determination have made him an inspiration to people everywhere.

Ben Silverman

Professional golfer Ben Silverman has demonstrated exceptional talent on the golf course. His sports achievements have made him a well-respected figure in golf.

Max von Schlebrügge

Max von Schlebrügge, a professional soccer player, has represented Sweden’s national team with 10 caps. His exceptional skills on the field have earned him recognition and respect in soccer, showcasing his talent on an international stage.

Phil Zimmermann

Phil Zimmermann is the creator of Pretty Good Privacy (PGP), a widely used encryption program that provides secure communication channels. As a computer scientist and privacy advocate, Zimmermann has played a significant role in cryptography and digital privacy.

Wilson G. Bradshaw

Wilson G. Bradshaw is the President of Florida Gulf Coast University. With a background in both B.S. and M.S. degrees, Bradshaw has dedicated his career to higher education, working to improve and expand opportunities for students in Florida.

Arthur C. Brooks

Arthur C. Brooks is a social scientist, economist, professor, author, and professional musician. With a diverse set of accomplishments in multiple fields, Brooks has made significant contributions to academia, literature, and the arts.

Alberto “Al” Cardenas

Alberto “Al” Cardenas is an attorney, Republican lobbyist, and trustee of Florida A&M. With a B.A. from Florida Atlantic University, Cardenas has devoted his career to politics, law, and education, making a significant impact on the lives of Floridians and beyond.

Keith Hamm

Keith Hamm is the Edwards Professor of Political Science at Rice University. With an M.A. from Florida Atlantic University, Hamm has become a respected figure in political science, shaping the minds of future generations of political scientists and policymakers.

Florida Atlantic University: Fostering Excellence and Innovation

Florida Atlantic University has a long-standing tradition of nurturing outstanding talents and fostering innovation across various fields.

The success stories of alumni demonstrate the university’s dedication to providing a well-rounded education that prepares its students for remarkable accomplishments in their chosen careers.

From business and science to politics and entertainment, Florida Atlantic University has played a pivotal role in shaping the lives of these notable individuals.

As the world continues to evolve and present new challenges, Florida Atlantic University remains committed to maintaining its high standards of academic excellence and fostering an environment that encourages creativity, critical thinking, and leadership.

This ensures that future generations of students can join the ranks of these illustrious alumni, leaving a lasting impact on their communities and the world at large.

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