Greetings from Japan! As the admissions officer for most of East Asia, I am currently on a three-week travel trip in Asia. The past few weeks have brought me to Hong Kong, Japan, China and Malaysia to introduce Tufts, meet all you future Jumbos and to share my Tufts stories! A big part of my job on the road is helping students figure out whether Tufts is a good fit for them. Evaluating fit can include thinking about a school's setting, size, opportunities, academic philosophies or culture of the student body. Last week, we explored location, setting and size as a way to discover fit. Today, I will talk about the different types of schools.
On the road, I often get questions about the difference between "colleges" and "universities" and about what the "liberal arts" actually means. In the US, college and university are often used interchangeably but while both can refer to four-year schools with bachelor's degrees, colleges typically offer only undergraduate programs and are generally smaller in size. Universities, on the other hand, offer both undergraduate and graduate/PhD programs and are typically larger in size.
Another way to categorise institutions is as liberal arts colleges and research universities.
To help you understand how different schools fit into these categories, I have drawn this handy quadrant diagram…
The y-axis represents the type of school (liberal arts college versus research university) and the x-axis represents the type of academic philosophy or academic mission a school has(liberal arts or pre professional). Some institutions have a purely liberal arts academic program with no pre-professional programs. Other schools may specialise in specific professional programs like nursing, architecture, communications, business, etc. Some schools offer a combination of these opportunities, like Tufts. I would put Tufts in the lower left quadrant as a student-centered research-1 university with a liberal arts philosophy, as shown through our distribution requirements and the low walls between our three academic schools.
At Tufts, we have three academic schools at the undergraduate level: School of Arts and Sciences, School of Engineering and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA). While Engineering and SMFA focus on particular industries, our well-rounded academic requirements of all three schools still follow the liberal arts ideology. For example, our engineering and fine arts students have to take a certain number of classes in our School of Arts and Sciences. In general, our students have the opportunity to take classes, to do research and to minor across schools. For example, the cover photo above shows a Mechanical Engineer interested in Engineering Education teaching a 4th grader how to make a musical instrument! How Tuftsy.
Next time, when I'm back in Boston, we will explore student life, the culture of a school and overall vibe as a way to evaluate fit!