There are 17 school districts serving the city. The Houston Independent School District (HISD) is the seventh-largest in the United States. HISD has 112 campuses that serve as magnet or vanguard schools—specializing in such disciplines as health professions, visual and performing arts, and the sciences. There are also many charter schools that are run separately from school districts. In addition, some public school districts also have their own charter schools.
The Houston area is home to more than 300 private schools, many of which are accredited by Texas Private School Accreditation Commission recognized agencies. The Houston Area Independent Schools offer education from a variety of different religious as well as secular viewpoints. The Houston area Catholic schools are operated by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
Colleges and universities
Four separate and distinct degree-granting state universities are located within the city of Houston: The University of Houston, the University of Houston–Clear Lake, the University of Houston–Downtown, and Texas Southern University.
The University of Houston (UH) is a nationally-ranked, Carnegie-designated Tier One public research university and is the flagship institution of the University of Houston System. The institution (formerly known as University of Houston–University Park) is the third-largest university in Texas, with over 38,750 students on a 667-acre campus in southeast Houston. The Princeton Review has named UH as one of America's best colleges. With nearly 320 degree programs and over 40 research centers and institutes, it is one of the most ethnically diverse research universities in the country. Its law school, the University of Houston Law Center, ranked No. 55 (top-tier) of the "Top 100 Law Schools" in 2008 by U.S. News & World Report. UH has the only optometry school and one of six pharmacy programs in Texas.
Located adjacent to NASA's Johnson Space Center, the University of Houston–Clear Lake (UHCL) is an upper-level university with nearly 90 degree programs and an enrollment of over 8,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The University of Houston–Downtown (UHD) is primarily an undergraduate institution of 13,000 students and it offers nearly 50 degree programs. UHCL and UHD are not branch campuses of UH, but are separate and distinct degree-granting universities.
Within the Houston's historic Third Ward community is Texas Southern University (TSU). Founded in 1927, it is one of the largest historically black colleges and universities in the United States. In addition, TSU has specialized professional academic programs in pharmacy and law.
Houston is home to many private institutions of higher learning—ranging from liberal arts colleges to a nationally recognized research university. Rice University is one of the leading teaching and research universities of the United States and ranked the nation's 17th-best overall university by U.S. News & World Report. Two private liberal arts colleges are Houston Baptist University and University of St. Thomas. The South Texas College of Law, founded is 1923, is a private and oldest law school in Houston located in Downtown.
There are three community college districts with campuses in and around Houston. The Houston Community College System serves most of Houston and is the fourth-largest community college system in the United States. The northwestern through northeastern parts of the city are served by various campuses of the Lone Star College System, while the southeastern portion of Houston is served by San Jacinto College.