Tarleton State University: An Overview

Tarleton State University: An Overview

The Tarleton Heritage

Since its creation, Tarleton State University, a public coeducational institution, has provided a broad-based education. Established by a $100,000 bequest from John Tarleton, an Erath County pioneer, John Tarleton College opened in 1899 as a private preparatory school and college for the youth of the surrounding rural region. During the next decade, students could earn a baccalaureate degree. In 1908, declining enrollment and inadequate funding caused college officials to reorganize the institution to a two-year degree program. This revised curriculum emphasized a liberal arts education, while retaining the two-year preparatory division. Again in 1916, Tarleton experienced financial difficulties; consequently, the Texas Legislature in 1917 approved the college as a branch of Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, which would later become The Texas A&M University System. John Tarleton Agricultural College, as renamed by the Legislature, retained the two-year degree as well as the preparatory program and specialized curricula in agriculture, home economics, and military science.

To meet the needs of a changing constituency, Tarleton has adjusted and enriched its curriculum since the 1920s. Accredited as a junior college by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges in 1926, Tarleton gradually redeveloped a liberal arts education. Then in 1949, the Legislature changed the name of the school to Tarleton State College, and in 1953 the preparatory division was discontinued, reflecting the increased access to public schools throughout the state. By a 1959 act of the Legislature, Tarleton once again became a four-year degree-granting institution, with the first class graduating in 1963. Accredited as a senior college in 1966, Tarleton initiated many new programs, including graduate courses in 1970. Because Tarleton offered a broad liberal arts education within undergraduate and graduate degrees, the Texas Legislature recognized the institution as a university in 1973, and changed the name officially to Tarleton State University. In 2003, a doctoral degree in Educational Leadership was initiated. In 2019, a Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice was initiated (pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges).

Over the past century, Tarleton has grown from a small private college into a thriving state university, serving over 15,000 students. In 1999, Tarleton established the first university system center in Texas, providing public, upper-level academic programs for the citizens of central Texas. This entity was called the Tarleton University System Center – Central Texas and was located in Killeen. On September 1, 2009, the system center became an independent university – Texas A&M University – Central Texas.

Degree programs and degree completion programs are offered on the main campus in Stephenville, in Fort Worth at Tarleton’s campus located on the Chisholm Trail Parkway, the Terrell School of Medical Laboratory Sciences in the downtown medical district, and on the Tarrant County College – Trinity River Campus. In addition, degree programs are offered in Waco at the McLennan Community College University Center, and through the Tarleton Online campus. Tarleton also is a participating member in the Texas A&M University System – RELLIS Academic Alliance in Bryan, Additional sites include the W. K. Gordon Museum and Research Center in Thurber. These locations have enabled Tarleton to meet diverse educational demands from across the state. Throughout its first one hundred years, Tarleton has never lost the commitment to excellence that was the vision of its founder, John Tarleton.

Mission Statement

Tarleton State University, a founding member of The Texas A&M University System, transforms generations by inspiring discovery, leadership, and service through educational excellence.


Tarleton will be the premier comprehensive university in the nation, with a keen focus on student success, teaching, and research.

Core Values:

  • Excellence
  • Integrity
  • Respect
Strategic Goals

Student Opportunity & Success

  • Support the well-being and success of all students, consistently outpacing our peers in engagement and achievement rates, with a strong commitment to enhancing opportunity, access, and affordability.
  • Optimize the university’s educational impact through recruitment, strategic offerings and flexible learning formats, particularly in graduate and professional programs.
  • Promote student socio-economic mobility and gainful employment through market-driven pathways, streamlined program navigation, and career readiness.

Academic Distinction

  • Leverage high-impact teaching and learning practices, technology, and quality instructional design of all courses to provide a transformational and future-focused educational experience.
  • Adapt and expand nationally-recognized academic programs, schools and colleges through prestigious accreditation, program review, and benchmarking against aspirational institutions.
  • Continue our future-focused development of Tarleton Fort Worth and expansion of academic programs and support at all outreach campuses to provide educational attainment opportunities to meet the growing marketplace needs of the region and state.

Global, Community & First-Gen Initiatives

  • Leverage the university’s culture of connection and access to be a national comprehensive first-choice, first-generation premier destination-HSI.
  • Promote success opportunities and global pathways to enhance academic, financial and wellness support for all learners, and development opportunities for all employees.
  • Integrate educational experiences for students, faculty and staff to increase understanding of perspectives that enhance intercultural competence.

Research, Innovation, & Economic Impact

  • Enhance university resources and invest in sustainable research infrastructure to mobilize faculty and student research, scholarship, and creative activities and support personnel in the process of securing and administering research funds to reach Carnegie’s Very High Research Activity status by 2030.
  • Become a leader in higher education, industry, and government partnerships, innovation, and entrepreneurial strategies that advance community engagement and economic development.

Institutional Prominence

  • Foster a thriving employee experience through meaningful communication, competitive compensation, interprofessional collaboration, and an ongoing commitment to growth and wellness.
  • Ensure fiscal sustainability through strategic resource management, alternative revenue generation, and rigorous fundraising.
  • Elevate the institutional profile by capitalizing on national visibility and distinction.

Enrollment and Faculty

Over 15,000 students attend Tarleton State University. Students from approximately 229 Texas counties, 47 US states and territories, and 32 foreign countries comprise the student body. More than 400 full-time faculty members are devoted to academic excellence and the personal development of each student. The student-faculty ratio is 23:1.

Main (Stephenville) Campus

One of the most striking features of Tarleton State University is the spacious 170-acre campus located in the heart of Stephenville, a city of approximately 21,800 people, only 65 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Featuring malls, open space, and beautifully-landscaped grounds, the campus is dominated by majestic oak and pecan trees, which create a warm atmosphere for living and learning. The architectural integrity of aged red brick buildings is maintained campus wide. Tarleton is proud of its spacious classrooms, well-equipped laboratories, and extensive library collections. Other facilities include a multimedia foreign language laboratory, modern Fine Arts Center, and updated agricultural facilities.

An ongoing construction and modernization program ensures that Tarleton keeps abreast of new developments. The Barry B. Thompson Student Center, a 90,000-square-foot facility, is the hub for campus activity and is an integral part of the University’s educational environment. The Center offers a food court, bookstore, post office, conference and meeting facilities, study areas, and commuter lounge. Other recently completed buildings include a number of new residence halls. Tarleton’s science building features a planetarium plus state-of-the-art laboratory and classroom space for students to engage in study and research. The newest buildings on campus are the university dining hall, nursing building, dairy complex, and the sports recreational facility featuring an indoor walking track, climbing wall, and state of the art exercise equipment.

The Texas A&M University System

Academic institutions under the direction of the Board of Regents of The Texas A&M University System include:

  • Prairie View A&M University
  • Tarleton State University
  • Texas A&M University
  • Texas A&M International University
  • Texas A&M University - Central Texas
  • Texas A&M University - Commerce
  • Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi
  • Texas A&M University - Kingsville
  • Texas A&M University - San Antonio
  • Texas A&M University - Texarkana
  • West Texas A&M University

Other agencies and programs in The Texas A&M University System are:

  • Texas A&M AgriLife Research
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
  • Texas Division of Emergency Management
  • Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station
  • Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service
  • Texas A&M Forest Service
  • Texas A&M Transportation Institute
  • Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory

Board of Regents

Name Location
Tim Leach (Chairman) Midland
Bill Mahomes (Vice Chairman) Dallas
Robert L. Albritton Fort Worth
James R. "Randy" Brooks San Angelo
Jay Graham Houston
Michael A. "Mike" Hernandez III Fort Worth
Elaine Mendoza San Antonio
Michael J. Plank Houston
Cliff Thomas Victoria

Purpose of Catalog

This catalog is printed to provide information about the academic programs of Tarleton State University to students, prospective students, faculty, and staff of the University. While every effort has been made to make this catalog as complete and accurate as possible, changes may occur at any time in requirements, deadlines, fees, curricula, and courses listed in this catalog. This catalog is published annually, in advance of its effective date; therefore its contents cannot be considered an agreement or contract between individual students and the University. In addition to this annual print publication, the University maintains an online edition of the catalog at www.tarleton.edu, which is the most current edition of the catalog available.

Mr. John Sharp, Chancellor
The Texas A&M University System
A&M System Building, Suite 2043
200 Technology Way
College Station, Texas 77845-3424
(979) 458-6000
(979) 458-6044