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Clayton State University opened in 1969 as Clayton Junior College. The Board of Regents elevated the institution to baccalaureate status (as Clayton State College) in 1986 with programs in business administration and nursing, and granted university status (as Clayton College & State University) in 1996. The present name was approved on May 18, 2005.


Clayton State now enrolls 6,700+ students in degree credit programs that, in the words of the University’s mission, provide “career-oriented education with a solid liberal arts foundation. On November 16, 2005, Clayton State University’s first graduate level program, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, was approved by the Board of Regents. The University currently has eight graduate-level programs.


Clayton State has the largest Dual Enrollment Program (DEP) among comprehensive universities in the University System of Georgia, with 255 DEP students enrolled in spring 2011 semester. Many attend classes at the Clayton State – Fayette instructional site, which opened in January 2008 and now serves approximately 500 students per semester.


In 1991, Clayton State opened the doors to the finest small performance facility in the southeastern United States, Spivey Hall, which retains its local, national and international reputation by presenting the best in jazz and classical music and an education outreach program that serves tens of thousands of school children from throughout metro Atlanta annually.


Clayton State University student/athletes won the 2010/2011 NCAA Division II women’s basketball national championship, and reached the Elite Eight in men’s soccer and the Final Four in women’s tennis.


The Selig Center for Economic Growth in the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, in analyzing data collected between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010, calculated Clayton State University’s FY2009 economic impact as $236.2 million. The University also generated 2,169 jobs in FY2010.


Recognition of Clayton State’s achievements has recently come from outside the University, when Clayton State was ranked in the first tier of regional colleges by U.S. News & World Report, and was named a “Best Buy” and a “marriage of ethnic diversity and scholastic achievement” by James magazine.