An Introduction To UNLV

The University of Nevada-Las Vegas is a notable public university in the American West. (The name UNLV Las Vegas, while commonly used online, is actually redundant.) If you’re curious about the kind of education available in the arid tourism-centric town of Las Vegas, read on to find out.


The first classes offered through UNLV took place in 1959. Note that at the time Las Vegas was a tiny community that was far from the state of Nevada’s most famous town; UNLV began its life as an offshoot of the University of Nevada, Reno. The university’s current name and identity solidified in 1968-69 when the “Rebel” mascot was chosen to intentionally play up the school’s north-south rivalry with Reno.

Through the end of the 20th century and the start of the 21st, the steady influx of people into Las Vegas increased both the enrollment and the endowment of UNLV. The University developed into a noted STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) school with a heavy emphasis on research.

Current Academic Strengths

Several of UNLV’s humanities divisions provide noteworthy education, including the English Department, the School of Architecture, and the combined graduate / undergraduate Lee Business School.

The school’s real stars are its School of Medicine and its science and technology programs, particularly the undergraduate ones. The School of Medicine has expanded in the past few decades to offer specialized high-quality education in some related professions including dentistry, nursing, and social work.

At the graduate level, UNLV has a very well-respected law school (the Boyd School of Law) that has achieved remarkable prominence even though it is barely 20 years old. UNLV is also home to the Harrah School of Hotel Administration, one of the world’s preeminent graduate programs in that field. Its proximity to the many hotels of Las Vegas is a major driver of the UNLV school’s excellence. The Harrah School even enjoys the distinction of running UNLV’s only international branch campus in Singapore.


As noted above, the UNLV mascot has been the Rebel ever since the current name was chosen in 1969. The university’s two strongest NCAA teams – in men’s basketball and men’s baseball – are both known as the Rebels. Other notable sports programs include the university’s championship-winning golf program and the school’s Olympic-level swimming and diving team.

The UNLV Running Rebels are a division one NCAA basketball team which is a regular contender for elite status every year. By statistics, the Rebels are the third leading team in the entire NCAA, behind only North Carolina and Kentucky. The program was shaped in the 70s and 80s by legendary coach Jerry Tarkanian.

UNLV is a sterling example of the way that public universities in the US can rise to national and international prominence in select disciplines. The University’s shrewd decisions to play to its strengths – both on the basketball court and in the development of its academic programs – have led to the development of a school that has the laser-like intensity and world-class quality in a few key areas.