The public school systems are administered by the Texas Education Agency.
All but one of the school districts in Texas are separate from any form of municipal government, hence they are called "independent school districts," or "ISD" for short. School districts may cross city and county boundaries. School districts have the power to tax their residents and to use eminent domain.
The sole exception to this rule is Stafford Municipal School District, which serves all of the city of Stafford.
Colleges and Universities
The University of Texas System, established by the Texas Constitution in 1876, consisted of nine academic universities, six health institutions, and UT System administration in 2004. UT System institutions enrolled a total of 182,752 students in fall 2004 making it one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation. In 2004, The University of Texas at Austin, which is the largest institution in the UT System and in the state of Texas, maintained an enrollment of 50,377 students. The University of Texas at Austin was once the largest institution in the United States, but it is now one of the top 3 largest by population and is the world's 15th top ranking university. Seven doctoral programs at UT Austin rank in the top 10 in the nation and 22 degree programs rank in the top 25, according to a comprehensive study of the quality of graduate schools conducted by the United States National Research Council. Four of the seven medical schools of Texas are within the University of Texas System. In 2004, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas was ranked the 16th highest ranking medical school in the United States, with four of Texas' eleven Nobel laureates.
The Texas A&M University System is the second largest state university system of higher learning in Texas. Its flagship institution is Texas A&M University located in College Station and is the state's oldest public institution of higher education. Funded research generally exceeds that of all other Texas universities, and Texas A&M ranks among the top ten national universities in research. It is the second largest university in the state of Texas and also one of the top 10 largest schools in the nation.
The University of Houston System is the largest urban state system of higher education in the Gulf Coast, which has four universities with three located in Houston. Its flagship institution is the University of Houston, the only doctoral degree granting extensive research institution in Houston and is the third largest in the state of Texas with an enrollment of over 36,000. The interdisciplinary research conducted at UH breaks new ground in such vital areas as superconductivity, space commercialization, biomedical engineering, economics, education, petroleum exploration and management. UH is also home to over 40 research centers and institutes. Amongst the most prestigious of the University of Houston's colleges is the University of Houston Law Center (law school). The UH Law Center's Health Law and Policy Institute is ranked number one in the nation while the Intellectual Property Law Program is ranked fifth, according to U.S. News & World Report.
Houston is home to the Texas Medical Center, the world's largest concentration of research and healthcare institutions, such as Baylor College of Medicine, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, which now ranks as one of the world's most productive and highly regarded academic institutions devoted to cancer patient care, research, education, and prevention.
Houston is the location of a well known prestigious private institution of Rice University, which boasts one of the largest financial endowments of any university in the world. The small undergraduate student body is among the nation's most select and one of the highest percentages of National Merit Scholarship winners. Rice University maintains a variety of research facilities and laboratories. Rice is also associated with the Houston Area Research Center, a consortium supported by Rice, the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston.