Grambling State University has undergone many changes in its 114 years with almost as many name switches as there have been changes in philosophy and objectives.
From the beginning in 1901 until 1912 the institution was private and was known from 1901 to 1905 as the Colored Industrial and Agricultural School of Lincoln Parish.
When a new site was purchased and the school was moved to Grambling, it became known as the North Louisiana Agricultural and Industrial Institute. It became a quasi-public school in 1912 when the salary of one teacher was paid by the Lincoln Parish School Board. Thereafter, one teacher was added each year until 1918, when Grambling became a full-fledged parish training school. It also got another name change, becoming the Lincoln Parish Training School.
In 1928 the growth of the secondary education movement and a need for better-trained elementary teachers in the state helped the school to become a state-supported junior college. The institution at this time became known as Louisiana Negro Normal and Industrial Institute and a freshman year of college was begun to train elementary teachers for small rural schools.
A first grade teaching certificate was given for one year’s work at the school until 1936, when the institution got its second president and started awarding a two-year professional certificate and a diploma were awarded for three years’ work.
A four-year program of study in elementary education and degree-granting status were attained in 1940 with the first degrees awarded in 1944. In 1946, the college got another name change — to Grambling College of Louisiana.
Curricula changes were made again in 1948 when the State Board of Education granted Grambling College permission to offer bachelor of science degrees in secondary education.
In 1954, the college was authorized to offer pre-medicine, pre-law and pre-dentistry and initiation of a special summer program for accelerated students.
A liberal arts program was established at the college in the 1958-59 school year. The institution was reorganized to be comprised of a Division of Applied Sciences and Technology, Division of Education and Division of Liberal Arts. A junior division, called the Division of General Studies, was organized in 1963.
The college moved up to university status on July 10, 1974, when Gov. Edwin Edwards signed a bill that had passed the state legislature, and Grambling State University was created.
Grambling had been authorized to offer graduate work in the elementary education and early childhood education fields , and these programs were initiated in the summer of 1974 and a Graduate Division was created.
The graduate program was expanded to offer a unique advanced degree program in sports administration with options in athletic administration and recreation administration,. The M.A. degrees in teaching biology, French and sociology were also added.
In the fall of 1975, Grambling State University realigned its academic structure by creating the School of Business and Applied Programs, the School of Arts and Sciences , the School of Education, and the Graduate School. It retained the junior division and its title General Studies.
In 1981, the Division of General Studies was reorganized into the Division of Basic Studies and Services, and the Division of Academic Support was established. The university’s mission, goals and objectives were also updated.
Two years later, the College of Science and Technology was established, the College of Arts and Sciences was renamed the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Business and Applied Programs became the College of Business, and the College of Basic Studies and Services was established. It was also in 1983 that the School of Nursing was established and the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies and Master of Science in Developmental Education programs were implemented. In 1984 the School of Social Work was established and the MBA program won approval by the Board of Regents. A year later, the Masters of Criminal Justice program was initiated.
1986 was another banner year for Grambling State and its programs. University enrollment reached 5,000-plus for fall and spring semesters , the Doctor of Education and Masters of Public Administration programs were approved by the Board of Trustees for State Colleges and Universities, and the Masters of Social Work program was implemented.
The following year saw the Masters degree program in International Business and Trade win approval by Boards of Trustees and Regents, and Grambling State University conferred its first doctoral degrees in Developmental Education in 1988.
In 1990, the College of Basic and Special Studies was created as part of the Academic Affairs organizational structure.
GSU, as a member of the Louisiana Education Consortium, which also includes Louisiana Tech University and Northeast Louisiana University, established a second doctoral program to include offerings in Educational Leadership and in Curriculum and Instruction in 1995.
It was in 1998 that the rest of the nation became aware of Grambling State’s impact on higher education in the United States when the school was named among “Top 50” of the best colleges and universities for African Americans by Black Enterprise magazine . In 2000, GSU, for the fifth consecutive year, was ranked first among the nation’s colleges and universities in awarding four year degrees in computer science to African American students, according to a national survey conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics.
The Grambling State University of today awards the following degrees: associate of arts, associate of science, bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, bachelor of science in nursing, bachelor of public administration, master of arts, master of science, master of arts in teaching, master of public administration, master of science in nursing, master of social work, and doctor of education.