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A liberal arts college is a college with an emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences. A liberal arts college aims to impart a broad general knowledge and develop general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum. Students in a liberal arts college generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional humanities subjects taught as liberal arts. Although it draws on European antecedents, the liberal arts college is strongly associated with American higher education, and most liberal arts colleges around the world draw explicitly on the American model.
There is no formal definition of liberal arts college, but one American authority defines them as schools that "emphasize undergraduate education and award at least half of their degrees in the liberal arts fields of study." Other researchers have adopted similar definitions.
Although many liberal arts colleges are exclusively undergraduate, some also offer graduate programs that lead to a master's degree or doctoral degree in subjects such as business administration, nursing, medicine, and law. Similarly, although the term "liberal arts college" most commonly refers to an independent institution, it may also sometimes refer to a university college within or affiliated with a larger university. Most liberal arts colleges outside of the United States follow this model.
Liberal arts colleges are distinguished from other types of higher education chiefly by their generalist curricula and small size. These attributes have various secondary effects in terms of administration as well as student experience. For example, class size is usually much lower at liberal arts colleges than at universities, and faculty at liberal arts college typically focus on teaching more than research.
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