GRAND Report: Univ. of Alabama at Birmingham
Updated: Mar 11
The University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) was one of the schools I couldn’t wait to visit. On paper, it seemed like an excellent option for many of my students: it wasn’t too far from home, fantastic STEM and Health Science programs, and incredibly generous merit aid opportunities for students. It also recently brought back football and was the right size for students who wanted a large student body, but not too big. I had the opportunity to visit this great school in January 2019 through the HECA Alabama to learn if it was just as good as the paper suggested. Keep reading the GRAND report to see if UAB could be your GRAND fit school.
UAB is a quintessential urban campus, spanning 100 blocks in downtown Birmingham, Alabama’s largest city and capital. The 13,000 undergraduate students are typically contained within 30 blocks, with hospitals, clinics, and graduate colleges utilizing the rest of the area. While 87% of students come from the state of Alabama, the student body is exceptionally diverse. International students come from 100 different countries, and only 57% of all students identify as white.
UAB’s application is straightforward, and decisions are released on a rolling basis. There are no supplemental essays, extracurricular lists, or recommendations required. Counselors review students based on their academic rigor, grades in academic courses, and their SAT/ACT scores. But don’t think that means UAB has low standards. For the Class of 2018, students had an average GPA of 3.73 and average test scores of 1210 or 25. UAB also considers the student’s choice of major during the admissions process, as some programs have additional requirements.
Students benefit from an 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio, and 75% of classes have under 40 students in them. Undergraduates start research as early as freshmen year, and UAB spends the most for research dollars per undergraduate students. The Second Year Experience Program helps students stay on track academically and engaged in campus life. It provides mentoring, major selection and career development support, faculty connections, and programming for second-year students.
Most students come to UAB for the Health Sciences or other STEM majors. UAB has 5 hospitals on campus, and students have a variety of programs to choose from within the health professions. While there are the traditional ones of Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Chemistry, Kinesiology, Public Health, and all the Pre-Health tracks, students can also receive a B.S. in Bioinformatics, Community Health and Human Services, Genetics and Genomic Sciences, Health Care Management, Immunology, Medical Sociology, and Neuroscience.
Another reason many students are interested in UAB is their Fast-Track or Accelerated Learning Opportunities. The Accelerated Bachelors/Masters Program allows students to take up to 12 hours of graduate-level courses while in undergrad. Students must complete 60 hours of undergraduate-level course work before applying for one of the 13 programs. Additionally, the Collat School of Business offers Fast-Track options for the Masters of Accounting and Masters of Business Administration programs, and the College of Engineering offers 5 Fast-Track options. The School of Public Health provides 6 BS/MS Fast Track programs and an Early Acceptance to the Doctor of Physical Therapy program. Finally, students interested in Medical, Dental, or Optometry school also have an Early Acceptance option through the Early Medical School Acceptance Program (EMSAP). These programs are highly competitive, but a good option for students sure they want to pursue one of these fields.
The UAB Blazers are a member of Conference USA, and their 18 teams compete in NCAA Division 1 Athletics. Football returned in Fall 2017, after a two-year hiatus due to budget cuts, and were conference champions in 2018. Men’s and Women’s Basketball are well attended, and Women’s Softball, Men’s and Women’s S0ccer, and Men’s Golf typically have strong seasons. While Greek Life makes up a small percentage of the student body (6% of women and 8% of men), they have a strong presence on campus. The Innovation Depot is an excellent opportunity for students to partner with local businesses, and 60+startups have been launched on campus through the Bill L. Harbet Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Students enjoy school programmings like Springfest, Talent Search, and Welcome Week. They also take advantage of the city for cultural events and restaurants, or to spend time in nature at Red Mountain Mark or Ruffner Mountain Nature Preserve.
While UAB is located in the middle of Birmingham, they strive to provide a “traditional college experience” for students. They created a campus green and built a state-of-the-art rec center to create multiple places for students to gather. Another way UAB encourages community, students are required to live on-campus for their first year and can choose from 5 of the 7 residence halls. UAB students are curious, innovative, and entrepreneurial, and take an active approach to their learning. They also are diverse, not only in their cultural background but through their thinking and perspectives.
UAB is powered by Will. The Will to:
Do more leads to amazing things
Make your passions your mission
Not only see problems but solve them
Open your world to an entirely new one
Say yes to new things
UAB’s cost of attendance is comparable to the national average for Alabama and out-of-state residents. Alabama residents pay $28,375, and out-of-state residents $43,854, a year for tuition/fees, room/board, books/supplies, and personal expenses. 75% of students receive need-based aid, and the average award is $10,095. Merit scholarships are awarded based on GPA and test scores, and the criteria are outlined on the website. For out-of-state students, awards begin at $7,500/year for students with a 3.0 GPA and a 24/1160 test score or a 3.5 GPA with a 20/1030 test score and increase to $18k/year. More competitive programs are available for National Merit Finalists, National Hispanic Recognition Program, and the Blazer Presidential program. Students can apply for additional merit scholarships through the BSmart platform. Another thing to note is that scholarships are renewable for 8 semesters, so students in Fast-Track programs may be able to apply some of their award to graduate tuition, saving even more money.