A Guide to the Colleges and Universities in the US.

Exploring Types of Colleges and Universities in the US | Ivy Central







Now is the time of year where those students who will be applying for college later in the year really start to think about building their college list. While every college is unique nearly all can be categorised into a type, often offering great advantages to their students. In this article, I will list some of the most popular types of colleges you should get to know as you narrow down the colleges and universities on your college list.

Liberal Arts Colleges

These colleges are particularly common in the US in comparison to the rest of the world. Many students are drawn to them because of their focus on undergraduate study and their fairly small size, both in overall numbers and class sizes, meaning there is more direct contact with professors.

Liberal Arts colleges offer courses in the liberal arts and sciences, providing an overview of the arts, humanities, mathematics, social and natural sciences. Students will choose a specialisation, or major, while also undertaking courses across different disciplines rather than follow a strict academic schedule in preparation for a specific career path.

Research Universities

As the name suggests, research universities place an emphasis on research by both students and faculty. While most often thought about in terms of their science programmes most research universities also offer a comprehensive course catalogue, encompassing programmes in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

While there are often research opportunities for undergraduates much of their focus is on graduate and doctoral degree students, however, that does not stop these colleges from offering a high quality undergraduate education.

Art Colleges

Not to be confused with liberal arts colleges, arts colleges educate students in the visual and performing arts alongside general education courses.

Students attending an arts college will get to choose between two types of degree, a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) or a bachelor of arts (BA). Programmes leading to a BFA have a focus on practical studio work instead of the more traditional lecture or discussion classes. For example, a typical BFA program might have students in fine arts courses two thirds of the time and general education courses one third of the time. Those opting for the BA route didn’t study the fine arts specifically and take more general education courses than a BFA. For example, you might spend one third of your time taking fine arts courses and two thirds of your time on general liberal arts studies.

Students wanting to study visual and performing arts are not restricted to applying to specialist art colleges, many other types of colleges will also offer courses in these areas.

Single Sex Colleges

While most colleges and universities in the United States are co-ed there are a number that only accepts students of one sex. The majority of these colleges are for females, although there are a few male only institutions. Nearly all single sex colleges follow a liberal arts ethos.

Choosing to attend a single sex college is, of course, an individual choice but research has shown some significant benefits resulting in students with higher levels of confidence and self esteem. Other research has identified that students attending an all female institution are less likely to drop out of STEM courses, while those attending all male colleges are more likely to pursue traditionally feminine fields.

Religious Colleges

Religious colleges are affiliated to a particular faith, typical examples include Catholic, Jewish, and Jesuit colleges. In some cases these links are historic and students are not required to share the faith of the college, for others, religious observance is built into every day student life and often require a statement of faith as part of the application process.

This is just a quick gallop through some of the most common types of colleges and universities to be found in the United States. There are other types, including, community colleges and institutions that have historically attracted students from the black and Hispanic communities.

In future articles I will explore some of these types of colleges and universities in more detail.

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