Background Improved survival of patients with early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) undergoing resection at high-volume centers has been reported. However, the effect of institution is unclear in stage IIIA NSCLC, where a variety of neoadjuvant and adjuvant therapies are used. Methods Treatment and outcomes data of clinical stage IIIA NSCLC patients undergoing resection as part of multimodality therapy was obtained from the National Cancer Database. Multivariable regression models were fitted to evaluate variables influencing 30-day mortality and overall survival. Results From 1998 to 2010, 11,492 clinical stage IIIA patients underwent resection at community centers, and 7,743 patients received resection at academic centers. Academic center patients were more likely to be younger, female, non-Caucasian, have a lower Charlson-Deyo comorbidity score, and to receive neoadjuvant chemotherapy (49.6% vs 40.6%; all p < 0.001). Higher 30-day mortality was associated with increasing age, male gender, preoperative radiotherapy, and pneumonectomy. Patients undergoing operations at academic centers experienced lower 30-day mortality (3.3% vs 4.5%; odds ratio, 0.75; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.60 to 0.93; p < 0.001). Decreased long-term survival was associated with increasing age, male gender, higher Charlson-Deyo comorbidity score, and larger tumors. Neoadjuvant chemotherapy (hazard ratio, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.62 to 0.70), surgical intervention at an academic center (hazard ratio, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.88 to 0.97), and lobectomy (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.67 to 0.77) were associated with improved overall survival. Conclusions Stage IIIA NSCLC patients undergoing resection at academic centers had lower 30-day mortality and increased overall survival compared with patients treated at community centers, possibly due to higher patient volume and an increased rate of neoadjuvant chemotherapy.