A Guide to the Types of Colleges and Universities in the US

Guide to the Different Types of Colleges and Universities in the US

Now is the time of year when those students who will be applying for college in 2023 should start to think about building their college list. While every college is unique, nearly all can be categorized into a type, often offering significant 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 compared 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 specialization 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 emphasize research by students and faculty. While most often thought about in terms of their STEM programs, most research universities also offer a comprehensive course catalog encompassing programs 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

Unlike liberal arts colleges, arts colleges educate students in the visual and performing arts alongside general education courses.

Students attending an art college can choose between two types of degrees, a bachelor of fine arts (BFA) or a bachelor of arts (BA). Programs leading to a BFA 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 fine arts specifically and took 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 can apply to specialist art colleges; many other colleges will also offer courses in these areas.

Single Sex Colleges

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

Attending 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. In contrast, those attending all-male colleges are more likely to pursue traditionally feminine fields.

Religious Colleges

Religious colleges are affiliated with a particular faith; typical examples include Catholic, Jewish, and Jesuit colleges. In some cases, these links are historical, and students are not required to share the faith of the college. For others, religious observance is built into everyday student life and often requires a statement of faith as part of the application process.

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

Working with study abroad consultants, overseas education consultants, or, as more commonly known, college counselors, can help you plan ahead and make those high school years count. Ivy Central offers exceptional focus to help you prepare for college admissions throughout the high-schooling years. Start today!

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