There is no official definition of what is a flagship university. In general, when people talk about flagship universities, they are referring to the most prominent public university of their state. It is usually the first public university that was established in the state and receives the most state support.
It doesn’t have to be just one university. In Texas, both the University of Texas and Texas A&M are consider flagship universities.
The term is relevant to the college search process since state flagship admissions, especially to honor programs, are considered low-cost, high quality alternatives to private institutions.
And while there generally isn’t any official designation, there has been at least one case of official “undesignation.” The Idaho State Board of Education removed the word “flagship” as part of the University of Idaho’s mission because members felt it was unfair to other public state universities.
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