What is a Research University?

22When it comes to choosing the appropriate college or university, a research university can offer some amazing benefits and opportunities. While there are several different categories into which institutions are grouped, a research-based university usually has all of the standard features an undergraduate student expects, with more in store. The article below explains how these universities are special, and what to expect if you attend one.

And a Bag of Chips

As an undergraduate, any university or college you attend is likely to be aligned with a liberal arts curriculum. So why should you explore a research university as a possible academic option and what makes them different from other institutions of higher learning? The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Learning differentiates a University devoted to research from others because it contains programs and infrastructure exclusively devoted to extensive research activities.

Such schools often have well-established graduate programs intended to nurture pure research and engage the next generation of scholars, scientists, and those who will develop new technologies or techniques. While not intended to rank the quality of the research opportunities, these universities are designated as Research 1, 2 or 3, respectively. The designations refer to the extent of the research-focused doctoral programs, their rate of graduation, and the richness of baccalaureate or undergraduate offerings.

Benefits to Undergraduate Students

Far from being discouraged from seeking entrance to these well-funded and research-focused institutions, anyone applying can expect a host of benefits not available at smaller or less research-centered universities. While other institutions may benefit the student with defined goals or one who has a clear educational path in mind, research institutions offer an enormous array of majors and study opportunities to undergraduates.

Because these institutions have successful graduate programs in a number of fields, the opportunity to interact directly with graduate students pursuing fascinating programs of research is much higher. This allows undergraduate students to experience the thrill of pure studies, beyond the broadly based liberal arts curricula common for most undergraduate programs. Some of their classes may even be taught be graduate students in pursuit of a master’s or doctoral degree.

However, graduate student teachers aren’t the only perk undergraduates can expect. Research institutions also attract the super stars of the academic realm. Research opportunities, funding, and tenured positions these universities offer often serve as incentives for some prestigious additions to faculty compliments. Beyond providing undergraduate students with the opportunity to learn directly from experts in various fields, those students are also encouraged to engage in research projects. Opportunities to assist in real research can bring students benefits in their careers, even if they elect not to pursue a more advanced degree. Potential research assistance of a project that is funded through a major university offers a type of education that differs from what may be drawn from the classroom.

While undergraduate education anywhere will polish an individual, seeking a place with a research-focused institution will bring many benefits that are unique to these types of universities. Expression and absorption of unique perspectives, potential participation in relevant research projects, and even the unspoken prestige that attaches to a degree attained from these institutions of higher learning are all potential perks. Whether you’re interested in arts, engineering, anthropology or pure science, a research university offers the best opportunities to engage with experts in your field and to enrich your own path of academic inquiry.

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