The NSU athletic teams are nicknamed the Spartans, an identity adopted in 1952. The Spartans participate in NCAA Division I, the highest level of intercollegiate althletics sanction by the NCAA in the US, in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). Green and gold are the official school colors.
NSU offers undergraduate and graduate programs in eight different schools/colleges. These include the School of Business, School of Education, College of Liberal Arts, College of Engineering, Science & Technology, School of Social Work, School of Extended Learning, Honors College, and the Graduate School. Norfolk State is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools amd offers 2 doctoral and 15 master's degrees. Additionally, NSU offers 36 undergraduate degrees, including the only bachelor's in Optical Engineering in the State of Virginia.
NSU's motto is Achieving With Excellence. The University's mission is as follows:
Through exemplary teaching, scholarship, and outreach Norfolk State University transforms lives and communities by empowering individuals to maximize their potential, creating life-long learners equipped to be engaged leaders and productive citizens.1
The University is also home to the Harrison B. Wilson African Art Gallery, which is located on the 2nd floor of the Lyman Beecher Brooks Library. This unique collection supplements the multicultural learning experience of students with museum-quality African art pieces. The Gallery is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.