More than 300,000 students in Maryland attend college at one of its 55 colleges and universities. The state has a plethora of private, public and for-profit institutions. They vary in size from intimate campuses to large universities with a significant student body. All of the public, private and for-profit institutions in the state are governed by the Maryland Higher Education Commission, which creates policies that the educational institutions have to adhere to. This elected board of officials also disburses financial aid statewide.
The University System of Maryland includes most of the state's public institutions for higher learning, with the exception of three schools. There are 12 schools in the system, making it one of the largest collegiate systems in the United States. There are 11 universities in the system, with the University of Maryland at College Park being the flagship campus. The other schools in the system include: University of Baltimore, Towson University, Salisbury University, Frostburg State University, Bowie State University, Coppin State University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland Eastern Shore, University of Maryland University College and the oldest institution in the system, University of Maryland Baltimore. The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science is also a part of the system, as are two satellite campuses: Universities at Shady Grover and the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown.
The third oldest university in the United States is located in Maryland. St John's College, which was formerly Kings William's School, is the oldest university in the state of Maryland. It was first founded in 1696 as a preparatory school, but by 1784 it was chartered into a college. The college is known for its unique curriculum model called the Great Books Program, which uses canon works as the basis for its studies. The man who wrote The Star Spangled Banner, Francis Scott Key, is one of the more famous alumni who graduated from St. John's College.
Despite having historical campuses within its borders, Maryland has not stopped changing and growing in the way of higher education. The most recent institution, the University System of Maryland at Hagerstown, was founded in 2008. It is designed as a way to provide both graduate and undergraduate programs to people who live in the area. As part of the University System of Maryland, it collaborates with five other system institutions to provide courses and professors to the students.