Difference Between Teaching and Research Colleges

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Everyone knows about Ivy League schools versus tech schools. Everyone knows the difference between public schools and private colleges. But there is another way to categorize colleges that many people don’t know about.  There is a little-known way to categorize colleges that you should look at when deciding where to go. Is the school a teaching school or a research school?

Table of Contents

What is a teaching college?

A teaching school is a school that focuses on teaching their undergrad students and providing comprehensive programs of study

What is a research university?

A research university is a school that focuses on making advances in science and research.

What is the difference in class sizes between teaching-centric colleges and research universities?

Class size varies greatly between all colleges and universities. Teaching colleges tend to have much smaller class sizes compared to research focused colleges. The ratio of faculty to students in the classroom as a general rule of thumb is going to smaller at a teaching college.

What are the benefits of a teaching college for students?

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Professors with a passion for their subjects and teaching
  • More open communication between faculty and students

What are the drawbacks of a teaching college for students?

  • Tend to have a higher price tag
  • More focus on undergraduate courses and less on graduate 
  • Less opportunities to be involved in research
  • Less networking potential for big names in the field

What are the benefits of a research college for students?

  • Huge opportunity for research involvement
  • Ability to network with big names in the field
  • More prestige associated with the school name and a degree from there
  • Slightly smaller price tag

What are the drawbacks of a research college for students?

  • Much larger class size
  • Courses taught by TAs or professors not focused on teaching 
  • Less focus on undergrad courses and more on graduate

Which type of school is best for me?

Obviously picking a college is a personal decision. But a few rules that might help you make a more informed decision.

If you are interested in research in any way, a research school is a good pick for you. 

If you can’t imagine being in a class of 200, a teaching school is probably more your speed.

If you need a good profesor in the classroom, a teaching school is probably a better bet

If you are attending college mainly to network, a research school is better.

If cost is the most important thing for you, a research school is probably your choice. 

Despite these rules look at each school individually and evaluate it based on what is important for you. Our post on How To Pick A College might get you started.

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