Over the past couple decades, there has been an explosion in the number of liberal arts colleges across America. With more students seeking out these types of universities, numbers for this topic have skyrocketed. It is very easy to find a national liberal art college close to you or even one within your own state!
It is important to note that not every school that calls themselves a “liberal arts” university is giving students the same experience. Some are purely academic while others focus more on producing professionals after graduation.
This article will talk about how many national liberal arts schools exist, what differences there are between them, and some things to look out for when choosing which one is right for you.
Disclaimer: The following discussion applies mostly to undergraduate level education. Graduate degrees may vary slightly, but most major general degree programs at national liberal arts institutions share enough similarities that it is possible to apply what we discuss here towards acquiring that master’s or Ph.D..
We will also only be talking about those nationally accredited liberal arts campuses here, so don’t expect us to mention VMI or Penn State! (Yeah, I know… pretty hard to do.
List of national liberal arts colleges
Over the past century, there have been many efforts to define what it means to be a national liberal art college. Some schools use the term very broadly, while others narrowly. What all these schools seem to have in common is an emphasis on educating students through the study of several majors, lots of hands-on experiences, and a strong community feel.
Many universities fit this description because they combine academic studies with extracurriculars that emphasize teamwork, leadership, and socialization. These are sometimes called “liberal” academics because they look at the world from a more open perspective than other educational institutions.
Some examples of national liberal arts colleges include Harvard University, Princeton University, Dartmouth College, The Ohio State University, UCLA, and Georgetown University. All of these schools offer undergraduate degrees in various fields such as literature, history, business, political science, mathematics, and music.
Other popular degree programs at national liberal arts colleges include teaching, nursing, and medicine. Students can choose to go into professional practice after graduating or can pursue graduate school afterwards.
Difference between national and state liberal arts colleges
A national liberal arts college is not necessarily like an Ivy League school, nor does it have to be affiliated with a major university or academic institution.
A national liberal arts college typically requires at least one year of study in each of the three areas that make up the liberal arts: literature, humanities, and social sciences.
These three areas overlap and some require all three, but none are strictly limited to just one. For example, many universities offer degree programs in both literary studies and English while also requiring a concentration in either history or politics.
Typically, these schools are more focused on educating students as individuals rather than teaching them about specific subjects or curricula. This shift in focus can help prepare students for any career path they choose later in life.
Some examples of national liberal arts colleges include The College of New Jersey, Calvinist Collegiate Institute, Harvey University, Benedictine College, and Marygrove College.
Tips for choosing a national liberal arts college
Choosing a national liberal art school can be tricky, especially since there are so many great options out there! Luckily, you have read some of our best tips here at The Artful Learner’s Guide to College Search, so you already know some important things about how to choose the right fit for you.
So now it is time to evaluate which ones make up the third category we mentioned in the title of this article: national liberal arts colleges. And remember, even though these schools do not focus heavily on bachelor’s degrees, they are still worth looking into because they offer valuable transferable skills like literacy, critical thinking, and communication.
To help you determine if an NLA education is right for you, let us look at some characteristics that differ between universities with a strong NLU program and those who don’t.
First, what makes an institution consider itself national or international? Some could say Stanford University is national due to its large student body, but does having lots of students automatically mean it is a national university?
Many people would argue no, and I agree. It should definitely be your preference, but depending on your definition, then yes, Stanford fits that bill. Having a very diverse student population helps promote cross-cultural understanding, diversity awareness, and acceptance of others’ cultures. All of these qualities are good practices when educating young adults.
Another way to define national universitites are through their alumni base.
Popular national liberal arts colleges
One of the biggest reasons why people love attending a national liberal arts college is because they exist! These universities focus more on educating students as individuals rather than focusing only on teaching them how to be socialized members of society.
National liberal arts universities promote an environment that cultivates intellectual growth, personal development, and strong community connections. Students learn about many different subjects, not just from one field or area. This exposure to various ideas gives every student a tool box for success in life beyond school.
These schools typically have very well-respected academic programs like mathematics, science, business, art, humanities, etc. They are also very accessible to students due to their size. Some even offer scholarship opportunities so most students can attend without having to worry about paying tuition.
There are currently twenty-seven nationally recognized national liberal arts institutions across America. Only two of these schools are private (non-profit) organizations, and both of those are relatively new additions to this list.
Popular state liberal arts colleges
Some people may have you believe that there is only one national liberal art college in this country, but they are wrong! There are actually eight different academic institutions that fit the definition of a national liberal arts college.
There’s really nothing special about these schools beyond their name, but collectively they represent over 100 years of rich tradition and incredible student experiences.
All of them were founded before World War II, and all of them still maintain strong ties to the local community. Students at each school come from diverse backgrounds, which also contributes to a supportive environment for students who might not necessarily grow up around many people with similar cultures.
These qualities make it easy to develop personal relationships and help you feel comfortable when you go to class. And because most universities now require at least some general education courses (like those listed below), attending any one of these schools is an excellent way to get a decent amount of knowledge outside of your major field.
Relationship between students and schools
As we have seen, there is no national consensus as to what makes an “art college” or a school that offers such programs. What does make sense, however, is defining what it means to be engaged with a liberal arts institution.
When you attend a liberal arts university, you are not only attending classes, you are also taking part in extended communities that go beyond just your class schedule. These include student groups, academic departments, athletics, social events, etc.
All of these components work together to create an atmosphere where learning takes place. This process sometimes called student-school engagement, is very important for both students and universities.
It gives students opportunities to connect with their peers, encourages them to come back for more, and helps them feel connected to the larger community. For universities, engagement brings in money, it boosts alumni donations, and it builds student confidence in the education they receive.
There is some variation when it comes to how much engagement different institutions require, but most expect at least one event per semester, and possibly even multiple events per week during times like fall and spring semesters.
Some ask for additional requirements like participating in department activities, serving on committees, or working with others outside of the classroom through projects or other types of assignments.
Factors to consider when choosing a school
When deciding where to attend college, there are several key factors that play into what type of institution you want to be part of. These include things such as the community, the courses offered, whether or not it is close to home, and if the school is truly liberal arts oriented.
Most universities classify themselves as either being “liberal” or “public” according to their degree programs. A university can be considered both depending on how they describe themselves. For example, Harvard University describes itself as public but also studies social sciences which are typically categorized as liberal.
Public universities tend to focus more on educating students for success in this world by offering degrees in business, medicine, engineering, and other career paths like teaching. They may lack the prestige of a private university, but these schools offer practical skills that many employers look for.
Liberal colleges aim to educate students beyond just getting a job after graduation. Students at liberal universities learn about different philosophies, religions, and cultures while exploring ideas through literature and art. Some examples of liberal arts institutions are Boston College, Columbia University, The Ohio State University, Princeton University, and UCLA.
Over the past century, there have been many efforts to promote liberal education as an integral part of college curricula. These programs seem to be coming into prominence once again, however, they face significant opposition in terms of funding and popularity.
Many people argue that national liberal arts colleges are not necessary because anyone can get the same general education from any other school with no need for specialized training or knowledge. Others believe that attending a national-liberal arts college is too expensive unless you are rich enough to pay full tuition.
There are also those who feel that students do not need to attend college at all rather than pick one specific school that does not meet their needs. Some even go so far as to say that university degrees are unnecessary since most jobs require only a high school diploma!
National-Liberal Arts College Programs
These days it seems like every major city has some sort of nationally recognized liberal arts program that is free to eligible undergraduate students. Students typically spend several thousand dollars per year on educational supplies and materials, but are given fully funded scholarships which covers the rest of the cost.
Some examples of these include Princeton University’s Academy of General Education, Duke University’s Trinity School, Vanderbilt University’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture, Boston University’s The Program, California State University – Chico’s Great Books Scholarly Tradition, etc.
Overall, this article really highlights how important it is to emphasize academic studies beyond your field of specialization.