On a 33-10 vote, the Senate passed the University of Maryland Strategic Partnership Act of 2016. The bill would combine the two campuses into one institution, though the College Park and Baltimore campuses would retain separate presidents.
The goals of the union include increasing collaboration, improving national rankings and fostering job growth in Baltimore.
The Baltimore campus is home to professional schools for medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, law and social work, while College Park has a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs.
The two institutions already are sharing some resources and programs through MPower, a collaboration agreement approved in 2012.
The bill also will require the University System of Maryland to relocate its headquarters from Adelphi, which is near College Park, to Baltimore. And it sends extra funding to Towson University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, which are considered underfunded.
The bill now moves to the House of Delegates.