History and Traditions

NDSU School Songs

Music recorded by the North Dakota State University Gold Star Marching Band

On Bison

On Bison carry the fight,
State is backing you.
Green and yellow colors bright,
To them we will be true.
State Bison!
Fight them right back to the goal,
A victory for our name.
On You Bison, Fight You Bison,
Stampede and win this game.

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The Yellow and The Green

Words by A.E. Minard
Music by C. S. Putnam

Ho! a cheer for Green and Yellow,
Up with Yellow and the Green;
They're the shades that deck our prairies
Far and wide with glorious sheen,
Fields of waving green in springtime,
Golden yellow in the fall-
How the great high-arching heaven
Looks and laughs upon it all!

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School Colors
Yellow and Green          

A faculty meeting in June of 1907 officially adopted green and yellow as the NDAC colors, a tradition that continues today.

Bison Pride
bison pride

Bison Pride is a deep-rooted tradition. It's valuing integrity, hard work, high expectations and performing at a championship level. Students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends and fans wear green and yellow on Bison Pride Fridays to express appreciation for NDSU in all its facets.

Gold Star Marching Band
gold star marching band

The Gold Star Marching Band is also known as "The Pride of North Dakota." Student newspaper references indicate the band existed as early as 1903. The band earned its “Gold Star” rating in 1924 when the band was an ROTC unit and earned its third consecutive 100 percent inspection rating.

The "Bison" Nickname
spectrum article snippet about bison nickname

According to the Feb. 17, 1922, edition of The Weekly Spectrum, the Lettermen’s Club voted the week before to adopt the nickname Bison for the university’s sports teams and to discontinue the use of Aggies. The "Bison" nickname was adopted in March 1922. Bison once roamed the North Dakota prairie in vast numbers so it seemed fitting. Over the years, Bison athletic teams also became known as the "Thundering Herd."

homecoming parade

North Dakota State University began its homecoming tradition in 1921. It has been held annually except during 1943 and 1944 because of World War II. In the first Homecoming football game, SDSC (now SDSU) beat NDAC (now NDSU) 54-0.


The roots of NDSU's mascot, Thundar, can be traced back to 1922. In late February 1922, the nickname of the NDAC collegiate teams went from the “Aggies” to the “Bison.” From the mid-1960s on, a “Bison Mascot” of some sort was being used at various athletic contest or pep rallies. It wasn't until 1991 when Thundar officially became the mascot name.

Interesting Historical Facts

1890 - The institution was founded as North Dakota Agricultural College (NDAC) as the research land-grant institution for the state of North Dakota.

1891 - The first permanent building on campus was Old Main (at the time known as College Hall). Construction of the lower levels was completed by the end of 1891, and on January 3, 1892, the institution enrolled 123 students for the term.

1907 - Due to ill feelings, all athletic events between NDAC and the University of North Dakota (UND) are cancelled. Three years later, in 1910, athletic events between NDAC and UND resumed.

1957 - On Thursday, June 20, 1957, a category F5 tornado ripped through Fargo's campus. Damage exceeded $300,000 and classes were dismissed for three days.

1960 - NDAC succeeded in a four-decade struggle to change its name. It became North Dakota State University, a name that reflected the increasing field of study breadth of the institution.

2004 - NDSU made the jump from NCAA Division II to Division I in athletics.

2004 - In August 2004, NDSU expanded its campus to downtown Fargo. Renaissance Hall (initially called NDSU Downtown) opened to classes in fall 2004. With its success, other structures soon followed. Richard H. Barry Hall held its first classes in fall 2008 and Klai Hall was dedicated on Oct. 3, 2008.