UAB’s undergraduate instructional programs are broad-based and designed to serve the needs of a diverse student body without sacrificing a strong general education foundation. Programs range from the liberal arts and sciences to professionally oriented studies, including business, education, engineering, and the health disciplines. UAB’s baccalaureate offerings are shaped by its location in the state’s largest metropolitan area, by its mandate to serve a large and heterogeneous constituency, by its responsibility to contribute to the economic and professional development of Birmingham and the state, and by its role of providing support to a nationally recognized academic health sciences center.
At the graduate level, programs serve the career needs of educators and business leaders, as well as those involved in advancing the frontiers of the health sciences. Training for health professionals is available through programs at the baccalaureate, master’s, doctoral, and professional degree levels.
UAB also has the primary responsibility for meeting the state’s health professional needs. It offers a comprehensive range of programs which encompass both basic preparation and sophisticated graduate and specialty training in medicine, dentistry, optometry, nursing, the health professions, and public health.
As one of the nation’s leading research institutions, UAB emphasizes both basic and applied research. Although the majority of the university’s research effort is in the biomedical sciences and related areas, all instructional programs are expected to participate in research activities. UAB’s urban setting necessitates the development of research programs that are responsive to the city’s economic, social, and cultural needs. Much of the research conducted at UAB is interdisciplinary in nature and is organized through centers that bring together experts in a number of related fields to concentrate on a particular problem or issue. UAB’s total research expenditures exceeded $516 million in 2015, and the university currently ranks 10th among public universities in funding from the National Institutes of Health.
As the senior public doctoral-level institution in the state’s major urban area, UAB is also committed to providing comprehensive programs in continuing education consistent with the quality and diversity of its other offerings. The university’s faculty, staff, and students also serve as resources to the area through activities related to professional, economic, and cultural growth and development.
UAB’s urban location offers students unique cultural opportunities. Located within walking distance of the campus is the Five Points South district, where several nationally recognized restaurants are located, along with shops, art galleries, and music clubs. Not far from campus are the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Civil Rights Institute, the historic Alabama Theater, and the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex. Other nearby sites include Sloss Furnace, a post-Civil War iron foundry which has been converted into a museum and informal music hall, and Oak Mountain Amphitheater, an outdoor facility that features music-industry headliners during the spring and summer concert season.
UAB also has a flourishing arts program. Dozens of major music events are produced each season at UAB, in addition to numerous theater productions and student and professional art exhibitions. The Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center is Birmingham’s home for the performing arts and the anchor of UAB's burgeoning Cultural Arts Corridor. The Center features a 1,400-seat concert hall, a 350-seat theater, and a 150-seat recital hall, and regularly schedules nationally and internationally known artists and orchestras and features faculty and student productions and concerts. The Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts houses the Department of Art and Art History and hosts world-class exhibits and cultural events.
UAB offers a rich variety of student life activities through its many academic organizations, honor clubs, fraternities and sororities, and volunteer groups. The university houses more than 180 campus organizations, including 33 national honorary societies, more than 120 professional clubs and interest groups, cheerleaders, the Golden Girls dance team, intramural and recreational sports, and an established student government organization.
The campus is rich in social activity and the arts and culture. The Campus Green is a vibrant hub of campus life, with serene outdoor spaces and state-of-the-art residence halls, dining facilities and academic buildings. A few blocks away, the Cultural Arts Corridor offers a host of free activities for students, including exhibitions, lectures and performances. UAB's new Hill Student Center is an architecturally striking facility that houses, among other amenities, a student welcome center, bookstore, and meeting, conference, and auditorium space.
UAB’s athletic program is a Division I member of the NCAA and a founding member of Conference USA. UAB athletes participate in 18 intercollegiate sports and have earned championships in baseball, men’s tennis, women’s tennis, women’s basketball, and men’s golf.
The University of Alabama System
The University of Alabama was foreseen in the Constitutional Convention in Huntsville, Alabama Territory, on July 5, 1819. At the second session of the General Assembly, December 18, 1819, an act was passed establishing a seminary of learning “to be denominated the University of Alabama.” The university opened for admission of students on April 18, 1831, in Tuscaloosa. All public buildings except the observatory were burned by federal cavalrymen on April 4, 1865. Erection of new buildings began in January 1867 and classroom instruction resumed in April 1869.
During the first half of the twentieth century and in addition to its regular educational programs at the Tuscaloosa campus, the university began to offer additional educational opportunities to residents in urban communities throughout Alabama. Extension centers, offering both day and evening classes, were established in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Mobile, Dothan, and Gadsden. The Birmingham and Huntsville centers evolved into new university campuses, which were established in addition to the Tuscaloosa campus.
In September 1966, all university operations in Birmingham were designated as the University of Alabama in Birmingham (UAB) by the University of Alabama Board of Trustees. This action established the University of Alabama in Birmingham as one of the three major campuses of the university. The University of Alabama in Huntsville had been initiated as a four-year school in 1964.
In June 1969, the campuses were given autonomy within the framework of the University of Alabama System, each having its own administrative structure with a president as the chief executive officer. A chancellor was appointed in June 1976 as chief administrative officer of the system. In 1984, the name of the University of Alabama in Birmingham was changed to the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Medicine, Dentistry, Optometry, or Law
Students wishing to pursue careers in medicine, dentistry, optometry, or law complete a program of undergraduate study (usually culminating in a baccalaureate degree) before entering the appropriate professional school. “Pre-medicine,” “pre-dentistry,” “pre-optometry" and “pre-law” are not majors.
Individually Designed Majors
Students whose educational objectives are not well served by any of the regular majors may propose an individually designed major. Such program proposals require approval of the appropriate dean.
UAB has Army and Air Force ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) units in which Birmingham-area college students may participate.
Cooperative Education Program
UAB’s Cooperative Education Program helps students identify work opportunities that combine practical experience with academic studies. Some academic departments give credit for carefully structured work experiences.