The Innovative Agricultural Research Initiative (iAGRI) is a long-term investment in agricultural higher education and research capacity in Tanzania funded by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by The Ohio State University in conjunction with five other U.S. land grant universities and the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). Although University contributions to sustainable agricultural development in sub-Saharan Africa have been well documented, for the past several decades, donors and national governments have neglected agricultural higher education institutions. The main goal of the iAGRI project is to improve food security and agricultural productivity in Tanzania by strengthening the training and collaborative research capacities of Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries (MALF) and has four major objectives:1) implementing a program of collaborative agriculture research with SUA and MALF; 2) providing advanced degree training in agriculture for Tanzanian graduate students; 3) strengthening the capacity of SUA to develop and implement instructional, research and outreach programs; and 4) promoting cooperation between SUA, U.S. universities, and global south universities. The paper summarizes outcomes of the degree training, collaborative research and institutional strengthening efforts and innovative approaches to institutional capacity development (ICD). iAGRI granted scholarships to 139 Tanzanians to pursue graduate degrees in the agricultural sciences, with half studying at U.S. universities and half studying at RUFORUM affiliated universities in Africa and India. Nearly half of the candidates were women. Although human capacity development (HCD) is important, it is not a substitute for ICD. Approaches used to promote ICD are discussed including improved planning processes, organizational experiments, and promotion of innovations and linkages to the private sector.