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What is a liberal arts college?

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A liberal arts college is a higher education institution that has established itself as a college emphasizing and focusing on undergraduate degree programs primarily in the arts, such as communications, theater, fine art, graphic design and women's studies. Liberal arts colleges also feature degree programs in psychology, sociology and the sciences to provide a well-rounded education for students.

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The purpose of a liberal arts education is to provide students with a learning approach that emphasizes evaluating and embracing diversity, change and critical thinking, according to the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Liberal arts colleges focus on teaching students how to develop a sense of responsibility with social issues by incorporating service learning, volunteering and involvement in community activities as part of the curriculum.

A liberal arts college does provide the general education courses that many other colleges do. However, the advanced courses pertaining to specific degree programs offer students more opportunities for hands-on learning within the arts. Liberal arts colleges are often smaller, private colleges that utilize smaller class sizes and one-on-one student attention from instructors and mentors. In most cases, liberal arts colleges focus primarily on undergraduate degrees as opposed to graduate or professional degrees; however, as of 2014, many are expanding programs to include graduate degrees.

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