Colleges and Universities

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Chapter 9
Colleges and Universities


The last half of the twentieth century saw a dramatic increase in the number of high school graduates going on to college. In 1960 only 45% of high school graduates enrolled in college; by 1999, 63% enrolled. Figure 9.1 shows the increase in enrollment at degree-granting colleges and universities by age from 1970 projected to 2013. The enrollment rates have fluctuated from year to year, but the trend has generally been upward and is expected to continue.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that in 2002 a high school diploma was the highest level of education obtained by nearly one-third (32.2%) of the population ages twenty-five and older; 17.8% had earned a bachelor's degree; 17.1% had completed some college; 15.9% were high school dropouts; 8.3% had an associate degree; 6.3% had a master's degree; 1.5% had a professional degree; and 1.2% had a doctoral degree. (See Figure 9.2.)

According to the NCES, in fall 2001 roughly 15.5 million students were enrolled in American colleges and universities, an increase of about 18.5% from the 13.1 million enrolled in 1988. In its middle set of projections, the NCES estimates that college enrollment will reach 18.2 million by 2013. (See Table 9.1.)

Between 1988 and 2001 full-time enrollment grew by 23% (from 7.4 million to 9.1 million) while part-time enrollment increased by 13% (from 5.6 million to 6.3 million). (See Table 9.1.) In 1970 about one-third (32%) of college students attended part-time. By 2001 more than two of every five students (41%) attended part-time. Increased female enrollment has also contributed to the growth in college enrollment. From 1988 to 2001 male enrollment increased by 13% (from six million to 6.8 million), but the number of females enrolled rose by 24% (from seven million to 8.7 million). (See Table 9.1.)

Tuition at most public degree-granting institutions is generally lower than tuition at private institutions. In 2001 far more students were enrolled in public institutions (11.9 million) than in private institutions (3.6 million). (See Table 9.1.)

Older Students

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, during the late 1980s enrollment of nontraditional students (those over thirty years of age) in degree-granting institutions increased faster than enrollment of students under age twenty-two; then between 1993 and 2003 enrollment of students under age twenty-two increased by 23%, while enrollment of people thirty and over increased by 2.5%. The NCES projects continued enrollment increases in degree-granting institutions at all age levels. Between 2002 and 2014, the NCES projects a 16% increase for students aged eighteen to twenty-four, while enrollment of students age thirty-five and older is expected to increase by about 5% (Projections of Education Statistics to 2014, National Center for Educational Statistics,

Minority Enrollment

The enrollment of minority students (non-Hispanic African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians or Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans) in higher education has been rising steadily. Much of the increase can be traced to larger numbers of Hispanic and Asian or Pacific Islander students.

While white students still make up the large majority of college students, the trend is toward more racial and ethnic diversity on campuses. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 1976 white students made up 82.6% of higher education enrollment. In 2001 whites accounted for 67.6% of those attending college; African-Americans were 11.6%; Hispanics were 9.8%; Asians or Pacific Islanders were 6.4%; and Native Americans were 1%. (See Table 9.2.) Between 1976 and 2001 the number of white students grew by 19% and the number of African-American students by 79%. Other minority groups increased by even higher proportions: Native American enrollment more than doubled, while more than four times as many Hispanics and more than five times as many Asians/Pacific Islanders enrolled. Note that prior to 1995 data were collected for higher education institutions, and they were defined as agencies or associations that were recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. In 1996 the definition was changed slightly, to be four- and two-year degree-granting higher education institutions that participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs.

According to the NCES, in 2002 African-American students were more than twice as likely as Hispanic students to attend an institution where they made up at least 80% of the total enrollment. During fall 2002, 29% of students at degree-granting institutions were minorities. The proportion of minority enrollment was higher at two-year colleges (36%) than at doctoral institutions (24%). (See Figure 9.3.)

The NCES defines institutions as having low-minority enrollments if the proportion of minority students is 20% or less, and institutions as having high-minority enrollments if the proportion of minority students enrolled is 80% or more. In fall 2002 more minority students attended degree-granting institutions with low-minority enrollments than attended high-minority institutions (17% and 13%, respectively). Nearly one-third (31%) of minority students attended four-year degree-granting institutions with high-minority enrollments, while only 4% of minority students attended doctoral degree-granting institutions with high-minority enrollments. One-quarter attended doctoral institutions with low-minority enrollments. (See Figure 9.3.)

International Students

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE) in Open Doors 2005 (, 565,039 international students were enrolled at institutions of higher learning in the United States during the 2004–05 school year. This represented a decline of about 1.3% from the previous year's total of 572,509. About 14% of international students were from India (80,466); 11% from China (62,523); 9% from Korea (53,358); 7% from Japan (42,215); and 5% of international students were from Canada (28,140). Another 4.6% were from Taiwan (25,914), and 2.3% were from Mexico (13,063).

Open Doors 2005 also reported that California hosted the largest number of international students (75,032) in 2004–05 and that the University of Southern California, with 6,846 foreign students, had the largest international student population of any college or university in the United States. Business (18% of students) and engineering

Total enrollment in degree-granting institutions, by sex, attendance status, and control of institution, with alternative projections, Fall 1988–Fall 2013
[In thousands]
YearTotalSexAttendance statusControl
Note: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Data for 1999 were imputed using alternative procedures.
Source: Debra E. Gerald and William J. Hussar, "Table 10. Total Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions, by Sex, Attendance Status, and Control of Institution, with Alternative Projections: Fall 1988 to Fall 2013," in Projections of Education Statistics to 2013, NCES 2004-013, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, October 2003, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Middle alternative projections
Low alternative projections
High alternative projections
Total fall enrollment in degree-granting institutions, by demographic characteristics, selected years, 1976–2001
Level of study, sex, and race/ethnicity of studentInstitutions of higher education, in thousandsaDegree-granting institutions, in thousandsbPercentage distribution of students
Institutions of higher educationaDegree-granting institutionsb
All students
White, non-Hispanic9,076.19,833.010,722.510,263.910,178.810,282.110,462.110,774.582.681.477.671.470.269.568.367.6
Total minority1,690.81,948.82,704.73,637.43,884.74,020.74,321.54,588.215.416.119.625.326.827.228.228.8
    Black, non-Hispanic1,033.01,106.81,247.01,505.61,582.91,643.21,730.31,850.
    Asian or Pacific Islander197.9286.4572.4828.2900.5913.0978.21,
    American Indian/Alaska Native76.183.9102.8137.6144.2145.5151.2158.
Nonresident alien218.7305.0391.5466.3443.5488.5528.7565.
        White, non-Hispanic4,813.74,772.94,861.04,552.24,499.44,551.14,634.64,762.383.181.377.471.770.670.168.968.4
        Total minority826.6884.41,176.61,533.41,615.21,663.61,789.81,881.114.315.118.724.125.425.626.627.0
            Black, non-Hispanic469.9463.7484.7564.1584.0604.2635.3672.
            Asian or Pacific Islander108.4151.3294.9405.5433.6437.1465.9480.
            American Indian/Alaska Native38.537.843.
        Nonresident alien154.1210.8246.3267.2254.6276.0297.3317.
        White, non-Hispanic4,262.45,060.15,861.55,711.75,679.45,731.05,827.56,
        Total minority864.21,064.41,528.12,104.02,269.42,357.22,531.72,707.116.617.120.326.327.928.429.530.2
            Black, non-Hispanic563.1643.0762.3941.4999.01,038.91,095.01,178.010.810.310.111.712.312.512.713.1
            Asian or Pacific Islander89.4135.2277.5422.6466.9475.8512.3538.
            American Indian/Alaska Native37.646.159.780.485.186.889.794.
        Nonresident alien64.694.2145.2199.0188.9212.4231.4247.
        White, non-Hispanic5,512.65,717.06,016.55,906.16,022.86,147.16,231.16,478.182.280.676.971.170.370.069.268.6
        Total minority1,030.91,137.51,514.92,046.82,193.62,263.62,368.52,530.715.416.019.424.725.625.826.326.8
            Black, non-Hispanic659.2685.6718.3871.9917.5948.1982.61,
            Asian or Pacific Islander117.7162.0347.4508.5557.0563.8591.2619.
            American Indian/Alaska Native43.043.054.477.582.883.284.489.
        Nonresident alien160.0234.4289.6350.1347.0375.8410.0438.
        White, non-Hispanic3,563.54,116.04,706.04,357.84,156.04,135.04,231.04,296.483.282.478.571.969.968.967.166.3
        Total minority659.9811.31,189.81,590.61,691.11,757.11,953.02,057.515.416.219.826.228.529.331.031.7
            Black, non-Hispanic373.8421.2528.7633.6665.4695.1747.7791.
            Asian or Pacific Islander80.2124.4225.1319.6343.5349.1387.1399.
            American Indian/Native33.140.948.460.061.362.366.868.
        Nonresident alien58.770.6101.8116.296.5112.7118.7126.
Total fall enrollment in degree-granting institutions, by demographic characteristics, selected years, 1976–2001 [continued]
Level of study, sex, and race/ethnicity of studentInstitutions of higher education, in thousandsaDegree-granting institutions, in thousandsbPercentage distribution of students
Institutions of higher educationaDegree-granting institutionsb
White, non-Hispanic7,740.58,480.79,272.68,769.58,703.68,805.78,983.59,278.782.281.077.571.170.069.468.367.7
Total minority1,535.31,778.52,467.73,282.13,492.13,605.33,884.04,130.216.317.020.626.628.128.429.530.1
    Black, non-Hispanic943.41,018.81,147.21,358.61,421.71,471.91,548.91,657.
    Asian or Pacific Islander169.3248.7500.5717.6778.3786.0845.5883.
    American Indian/Alaska Native69.777.995.5126.5132.2133.4138.5144.
Nonresident alien143.2209.9218.7275.3241.3270.3288.0306.
        White, non-Hispanic4,052.24,054.94,184.43,890.83,861.83,919.74,010.14,139.682.881.177.871.870.970.569.468.9
        Total minority748.2802.71,069.31,384.11,455.51,498.01,618.01,705.915.316.119.925.526.726.928.028.4
            Black, non-Hispanic430.7428.2448.0513.6530.2548.4577.0611.
            Asian or Pacific Islander91.1128.5254.5348.8373.0375.0401.9417.
            American Indian/Alaska Native34.834.839.952.454.253.956.458.
        Nonresident alien96.4139.8126.1145.8128.8141.8150.2158.
        White, non-Hispanic3,688.34,425.85,088.24,878.74,841.84,886.04,973.35,139.081.680.977.370.669.368.667.466.6
        Total minority787.0975.81,398.51,898.12,036.52,107.42,266.02,424.417.417.821.327.529.129.630.731.4
            Black, non-Hispanic512.7590.6699.2845.0891.5923.5971.91,045.411.310.810.612.212.813.013.213.6
            Asian or Pacific Islander78.2120.2246.0368.8405.3411.0443.6466.
            American Indian/Alaska Native34.943.155.574.178.179.582.
        Nonresident alien46.870.192.6129.5112.5128.4137.8147.
White, non-Hispanic1,115.61,104.71,228.41,272.61,254.31,256.51,258.51,275.184.482.477.473.071.069.568.067.0
Total minority134.5144.0190.5286.3318.5339.8359.4378.510.210.712.016.418.018.819.419.9
    Black, non-Hispanic78.575.183.9125.5138.7148.7157.9169.
    Asian or Pacific Islander24.531.653.
    American Indian/Alaska Native5.
Nonresident alien72.492.2167.3183.3194.8210.6232.3250.15.56.910.510.511.011.712.613.1
        White, non-Hispanic589.1538.5538.8529.0510.4507.4502.6503.483.
        Total minority63.765.082.1114.0122.8129.3135.1138.99.09.711.115.016.316.917.317.5
            Black, non-Hispanic32.028.229.341.244.246.748.951.
            Asian or Pacific Islander14.418.629.739.742.343.745.845.
            American Indian/Alaska Native2.
        Nonresident alien55.168.7116.4116.4121.1129.4142.0153.47.810.215.815.316.116.918.219.3
Total fall enrollment in degree-granting institutions, by demographic characteristics, selected years, 1976–2001 [continued]
Level of study, sex, and race/ethnicity of studentInstitutions of higher education, in thousandsaDegree-granting institutions, in thousandsbPercentage distribution of students
Institutions of higher educationaDegree-granting institutionsb
aInstitutions that were accredited by an agency or association that was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, or recognized directly by the Secretary of Education.
bData are for 4-year and 2-year degree-granting higher education institutions that participated in Title IV federal financial aid programs.
Note: Because of underreporting and nonreporting of racial/ethnic data, some figures are slightly lower than corresponding data in other tables. Data for 1999 were imputed using alternative procedures. Detail may not sum to totals due to rounding.
Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Alexandra G. Tan, and Charlene M. Hoffman, "Table 209. Total Fall Enrollment in Degree-Granting Institutions, by Race/Ethnicity, Sex, Attendance Status, and Level of Study: Selected Years, 1976 to 2001," in Digest of Education Statistics, 2003, NCES 2005-025, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, December 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)
        White, non-Hispanic526.5566.2689.5743.6743.9749.1756.0771.785.784.781.275.773.472.070.669.6
        Total minority70.879.0108.3172.3195.6210.5224.4239.611.511.812.817.519.320.221.021.6
            Black, non-Hispanic46.546.954.684.394.5102.1109.0117.
            Asian or Pacific Islander10.113.023.639.444.846.950.
            American Indian/Alaska Native2.
        Nonresident alien17.323.550.966.973.781.190.396.
White, non-Hispanic220.0247.7221.5221.7220.9219.9220.1220.890.189.581.074.373.072.571.871.5
Total minority21.126.346.569.074.175.678.
    Black, non-Hispanic11.212.815.921.522.522.523.523.
    Asian or Pacific Islander4.16.118.731.435.136.336.837.
    American Indian/Alaska Native1.
Nonresident alien3.
        White, non-Hispanic172.4179.5137.8132.3127.2124.0122.0119.390.990.582.676.675.375.174.474.2
        Total minority14.716.725.335.436.936.436.836.37.78.415.120.521.822.022.422.6
            Black, non-Hispanic7.
            Asian or Pacific Islander2.94.110.817.118.418.418.
            American Indian/Alaska Native1.
        Nonresident alien2.
        White, non-Hispanic47.668.183.789.493.795.998.1101.587.386.978.571.270.169.468.768.6
        Total minority6.49.621.333.637.339.341.343.111.712.320.026.827.928.528.929.1
            Black, non-Hispanic3.95.58.512.112.913.414.
            Asian or Pacific Islander1.12.07.914.416.817.918.719.
            American Indian/Alaska Native0.
        Nonresident alien0.

(16%) were the leading areas of study for international students.

Studying Abroad

Many college students from the United States also participate in study abroad programs. According to research published in 2005 by the Institute of International Education (, the number of U.S. students studying abroad had doubled since the early 1990s. The IIE estimated that in 2003–04 there were 191,321 American students studying abroad, which represented a 9.6% increase over the previous year (174,629) and the highest number ever. The IIE, in Open Doors 2005 (, further reported that the number of Americans studying abroad had surged 20% since 2000–01 and suggested that the increase might be due to a growing awareness among American students of the importance of gaining an international perspective. IIE president Allan E. Goodman noted, "Many U.S. campuses now include international education as part of their core educational mission, recognizing that increasing the global competence among the next generation is a national priority and an academic responsibility."

Countries with the largest numbers of Americans enrolled in institutions of higher learning during the 2003–04 school year included Britain (32,237), Italy (21,922), Spain (20,080), France (13,718), Australia (11,418), and Mexico (9,293). The largest number of American students abroad were studying the social sciences (43,258, or 22.6% of U.S. students abroad), followed by business (33,473, or 17.6%), and humanities (25,401, or 13.3%).


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more high school graduates are entering college, and more are eventually graduating. In 1972, 55% of high school graduates entered a postsecondary institution. By 1992 the number had jumped to 77%. Among the 1972 high school graduates who earned more than ten college credits (that is, they did not take one or two courses and drop out of college), 46% earned a bachelor's degree within 8.5 years of their high school graduation. For 1992 high school graduates, 67% had earned a bachelor's degree within 8.5 years of their high school graduation. (See Figure 9.4.) Another way to measure college success is to consider only students who earned at least some of the initial ten credits at a four-year institution, because this may signify that they intended to pursue a bachelor's degree as the goal.


Most students go to large colleges and universities. Although about 40% of higher education institutions have enrollments that are under 1,000 students, enrollment at small institutions accounts for less than 5% of total college students in the United States. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 169 higher education institutions that have enrollments over 20,000 students. In fall 2003 the schools with the largest enrollments were Miami-Dade Community College (54,926), the University of Texas at Austin (52,261), Ohio State University, Main Campus (49,676), University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (48,677), and University of Phoenix, Online (48,085).

Total number and percentage of adults taking work-related courses, by type of instructional providers, 2002–03
Instructional providerPercentage of participants in work-related courses
Note: Some adults took courses from more than one type of provider; therefore, percentages sum to more than 100.
Source: John Wirt, Susan Choy, Stephen Provasnik, Patrick Rooney, Anindita Sen, and Richard Tobin, "Table 7-2. Total Number (in Thousands) and Percentage of Adults Taking Work-Related Courses, by Type of Instructional Providers: 2002–03," in The Condition of Education, 2004, NCES 2004-077, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, June 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Total adults participating in work-related courses (in thousands)68,499
Instructional provider
Business or industry51
College/university, vocational/technical school21
Government agency (federal, state, local)19
Professional or labor association/organization19
Other (religious or community organization, tutor, etc.)8
Elementary/secondary school6


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2002–03, 68.5 million adults participated in work-related courses. The majority (51%) took classes provided by business or industry, and more than two-fifths (21%) took classes at a college, university, or vocational/technical school. Approximately two-fifths (19%) took classes that were provided by a government agency, and another 19% took classes that were offered by a professional or labor organization. Religious or community organizations provided the classes to 8% of the participants, and 6% of adults took them at an elementary or secondary school. (See Table 9.3.)


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2002–03 there were 4,168 degree-granting institutions in the United States—1,712 public and 2,456 private. About 56% (2,324) were four-year institutions, and 44% (1,844) were two-year schools. While most four-year schools were private (1,713, compared to 611 public institutions), most two-year schools were public (1,101, compared to 743 private schools). (See Table 9.4.)


Women's Colleges

Women's colleges are colleges that identify themselves as having an institutional mission primarily related to promoting and expanding educational opportunities for women. Women's colleges were founded during the late nineteenth century in response to a need for advanced education for women at a time when most institutions of higher education admitted only men.

Degree-granting institutions, by control and type of institution, 1949–50 to 2002–03
YearAll institutionsPublicPrivate
Institutions of higher educationa excluding branch campuses
Institutions of higher education, including branch campuses

Most of the independent nonprofit women's colleges that developed at that time were located in the Northeast. As educational opportunities in the South during the nineteenth century were limited to whites, some higher education institutions for African-Americans were formed after the Civil War (1860–65). These institutions included a few colleges founded especially to serve African-American women, two of which still survive: Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, and Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. These are the only African-American women's colleges in the United States today. Various states also developed public higher education institutions open to all women in the state. Three of these colleges still exist: Douglass College, a part of Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey; Texas Women's University (with branches in Denton, Dallas, and Houston); and the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi.

Degree-granting institutions, by control and type of institution, 1949–50 to 2002–03 [continued]
YearAll institutionsPublicPrivate
aInstitutions that were accredited by an agency or association that was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, or recognized directly by the Secretary of Education.
bLarge increases are due to the addition of schools accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology.
cBecause of revised survey procedures, data are not entirely comparable with figures for earlier years. The number of branch campuses reporting separately has increased since 1986–87.
Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Alexandra G. Tan, and Charlene M. Hoffman, "Table 246. Degree-Granting Institutions, by Control and Type of Institution: 1949–50 to 2002–03," in Digest of Education Statistics, 2003, NCES 2005-025, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, December 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Title IV eligible degree-granting institutions

Currently there are about eighty women's colleges in the United States, down from 200 in 1960. The majority of women's colleges are private four-year institutions, most are independent nonprofit institutions or affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church, and are located in the Northeast. Women's colleges usually have smaller enrollments than other institutions of higher education.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are accredited institutions of higher learning established before 1964, whose principal mission was to educate African-Americans. The first HBCU was Cheyney University in Pennsylvania, established in 1837, well before the Civil War. At that time, most African-Americans in the nation were still slaves, and the prevailing practice was to limit or prohibit their education.

Richard Humphreys, a Philadelphia Quaker, founded Cheyney University, which began as a high school and then became a college (Cheyney State College), awarding its first baccalaureate degree in the 1930s, almost 100 years after its founding. Two HBCUs were established in the 1850s: Lincoln University in Pennsylvania (1854) and Wilberforce College in Ohio (1856). Both of these colleges were founded by African-Americans to promote education among other African-Americans.

Another institution whose beginnings go back to the 1850s is now known as the University of the District of Columbia. Miner Normal School was started in 1851 by Myrtilla Miner as a school to train African-American women as teachers. In 1955 this institution united with Wilson Normal School to become D.C. Teachers College. In 1976 D.C. Teachers College, Federal City College, and Washington Technical Institute merged to form today's University of the District of Columbia.

Following the Civil War, educating freed slaves became a top priority of the federal government, the African-American community, and private philanthropic groups. Public support in the various states generally came in the form of land grants for school buildings. Many of the HBCUs founded during this time were religious schools, such as Edward Waters College in Florida (1866), Fisk University in Tennessee (1867), and Talladega College in Alabama (1867). Howard University in Washington, D.C., was also founded in 1867 by an act of the U.S. Congress. The university was established as a coeducational and multiracial private school.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fall 2002 there were 103 HBCUs in the United States; half (50%) were public institutions, and half (50%) were private nonprofit colleges. During fall 2001, almost 290,000 students were enrolled. Full-time students outnumbered part-time students by more than three to one. Women made up a majority (61%) of all students at these institutions. Most HBCU students were African-American—84% of the women and 80% of the men. (See Table 9.5.)

Selected statistics on degree-granting historically black colleges and universities, selected years, 1980–2002
Enrollment, degrees, type of revenues, and type of expendituresTotalPublicPrivate
Number of institutions, fall 200210352411151483
   Total enrollment, fall 1980233,557168,217155,08513,13265,34062,9242,416
   Men, black81,81856,43553,6542,78125,38324,412971
   Women, black109,17175,22670,5824,64433,94532,5891,356
   Total enrollment, fall 1990257,152187,046171,96915,07770,10668,5281,578
   Men, black82,89757,25554,0413,21425,64225,198444
   Women, black125,78586,94980,8836,06638,83638,115721
   Total enrollment, fall 2001289,985210,083181,34628,73779,90279,201701
   Men, black90,71862,60358,0194,58428,11527,947168
   Women, black147,920101,75192,8128,93946,16945,639530
Full-time enrollment, fall 2001222,453150,968136,04014,92871,48571,084401
Part-time enrollment, fall 200167,53259,11545,30613,8098,4178,117300
Earned degrees conferred, 2001–02
      Men, black49645194357451827
      Women, black1,3791,2673199481125854
      Men, black8,6235,7075,7072,9162,916
      Women, black16,49910,32610,3266,1736,173
      Men, black1,163975975188188
      Women, black3,2982,8032,803495495
      Men, black399106106293293
      Women, black598202202396396
      Men, black10842426666
      Women, black14879796969

Hispanic Serving Institutions

Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) are institutions that have a minimum of 25% Hispanic student enrollment. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2001 there were 334 HSIs in the United States. Total enrollment in 2000–01 at HSIs was 1.7 million students. Fewer than half (45%) were public institutions, less than one-quarter (23%) were private nonprofit colleges, and nearly one-third (32%) were private for-profit organizations.

Native American Colleges

Although Native American and tribal colleges and universities differ widely in their stages of development, they share some similarities. The governing boards of most are made up primarily of Native Americans and Alaska Natives, as are their student bodies. Located in twelve states, most of the tribal colleges are in isolated areas of the nation.

Selected statistics on degree-granting historically black colleges and universities, selected years, 1980–2002 [continued]
Enrollment, degrees, type of revenues, and type of expendituresTotalPublicPrivate
∗Not applicable.
Note: Historically black colleges and universities are degree-granting institutions established prior to 1964 with the principal mission of educating Black Americans. Federal regulations, 20 U.S. Code, Section 1061 (2), allow for certain exceptions to the founding date. Most institutions are in the southern and border states and were established prior to 1954. Federal, state, and local governments revenue includes appropriations, grants, contracts, and independent operations. Detail may not sum to totals due to rounding.
Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Alexandra G. Tan, and Charlene M. Hoffman, "Table 224. Selected Statistics on Degree-Granting Historically Black Colleges and Universities: 1980, 1990, 2000–01, 2001, and 2001–02," in Digest of Education Statistics, 2003, NCES 2005-025, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, December 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Financial statistics, 2000–01 in thousands of dollars
Current-fund revenues$2,865,406$2,711,332$154,074
    Tuition and fees583,864551,90031,964
    Federal government499,991469,67930,312
    State governments1,245,3851,171,47173,914
    Local governments66,52057,8048,715
    Private gifts, grants, and contracts48,15747,864293
    Endowment income8,0357,97361
    Sales and services367,857361,2996,558
    Other sources45,59743,3402,257
Current-fund expenditures2,803,1932,657,909145,283
    Educational and general expenditures2,446,8022,306,989139,814
    Auxiliary enterprises337,645332,1755,470
    Independent operations000
    Other expenditures18,74518,7450

In 2000–01 there were twenty-nine tribal colleges, serving about 13,500 full- and part-time students. All were public institutions, and the enrollment was 467 students on average. One of the major thrusts of the Native American schools is to reinforce traditional cultures and pass them on to coming generations. Their curricula are primarily practical and geared to local needs. Many of them are strongly oriented toward community service.

Most funding for these schools has come from the federal government under the Tribally Controlled College or University Assistance Act (P.L. 95-471). The government pays Native American colleges about $3,000 for each Native American student, almost 40% less than what the average community college receives per student from federal, state, and local sources. Tribal colleges typically do not receive state support because they have been established by sovereign nations and are usually located on federal trust land.

Alliance for Equity in Higher Education

The Alliance for Equity in Higher Education is made up of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC), and the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO). It is coordinated by the Institute for Higher Education Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit education group. The Alliance represents more than 300 HSIs, HBCUs, other predominately African-American institutions, and tribal colleges and universities. These colleges educate 42% of all Hispanic students, 24% of African-American students, and 16% of Native American students. However, member institutions serve students of all races and ethnicities; nearly one-quarter of students at NAFEO institutions are non-African-American, more than half of students at HACU institutions are non-Hispanic, and almost two in five students at AIHEC institutions are non-Native American.

The Alliance member colleges provide greater access to low-income and underserved populations, striving to keep tuition affordable. These colleges tend to have higher student success rates among minority students than do traditional colleges.


Trends in Enrollment by Degree Levels

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that undergraduate enrollment grew from 11.3 million in 1988 to 13.3 million in 2001, an 18% increase. In 2001 women outnumbered men; 56% of those enrolled were women. Enrollment is projected (by mid-range estimates) to reach about 15.6 million by 2013. (See Table 9.6.)

The NCES also notes that between 1988 and 2001 enrollment in graduate schools increased 27%, from 1.5 million to 1.9 million. By 2013 enrollment is projected to reach about 2.2 million, increasing about 17% from 2001.

Total undergraduate enrollment in all degree-granting institutions, by sex, attendance status, and control of institution, with alternative projections, Fall 1988–Fall 2013
[In thousands]
YearTotalSexAttendance statusControl
Note: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Data for 1999 were imputed using alternative procedures.
Source: Debra E. Gerald and William J. Hussar, "Table 19. Total Undergraduate Enrollment in All Degree-Granting Institutions, by Sex, Attendance Status, and Control of Institution, with Alternative Projections: Fall 1988 to Fall 2013," in Projections of Education Statistics to 2013, NCES 2004-013, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, October 2003, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Middle alternative projections
Low alternative projections
High alternative projections

More women (nearly 1.1 million) than men (791,000) were enrolled in graduate programs in 2001. (See Table 9.7.)

Enrollment in first-professional degree programs (medicine, law, dentistry, theology, and others) increased 18% between 1988 and 2001, from 267,000 to 316,000, according to the NCES. In 2001 more men (174,000) than women (142,000) were enrolled in first-professional degree programs. Proportionally, however, the enrollment of women increased from 37.4% in 1988 to 44.9% in 2001. Total enrollment is projected to be 390,000 by 2013, of which 46.6% will be women. (See Table 9.8.)

Trends in Degrees Conferred

According to the NCES in the Digest of Education Statistics 2003, the number of associate degrees conferred grew from 481,720 in 1990–91 to 595,133 in 2001–02, a 24% increase. During the same period, bachelor's degrees increased 18%, from 1,094,538 to 1,291,900; master's degrees rose 43%, from 337,168 to 482,118; first-professional degrees increased 12%, from 71,948 to 80,698; and doctoral degrees rose 12%, from 39,294 to 44,160. (See Table 9.9.)

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics reports that from 1980 to 2004 the percentage of adults earning a bachelor's degree or higher increased from 23% to 28%. Whites ages twenty-five to twenty-nine were more likely than African-Americans or Hispanics to have earned at least a bachelor's degree. In 2004 nearly one-third (32%) of whites, 18% of African-Americans, and 12% of Hispanics in this age group had earned a bachelor's degree or higher. (See Figure 9.5.)

Associate Degrees

In 2001–02, 595,133 students earned associate degrees. (See Table 9.9.) The NCES reports that public institutions accounted for 79% of all associate degrees in 2001–02. At public institutions conferring associate degrees, liberal arts/general studies, business management/administration, and health professions were the most popular areas of study. At private institutions business management/administration was the degree conferred most often, with engineering-related technology and computer and information sciences degrees also being popular. (See Table 9.10.)

Bachelor's Degrees

In 2001–02 students earned 1.3 million bachelor's degrees. Since 1981–82 more bachelor's degrees have been awarded to women than to men. Of the 1.3 million degrees awarded in 2001–02, women earned 742,084 or 57%. (See Table 9.9.) The largest numbers of degrees conferred at public and private institutions included business management/administration, social sciences and history, education, psychology, health and related sciences, and engineering. (See Table 9.10.)

Master's Degrees

The number of master's degrees awarded annually declined during the late 1970s and the early 1980s but began to rise again in the 1984–85 academic year. In 2001–02 the number reached 482,118. The proportion earned by women has steadily increased. In 1970–71 women earned 40% of all master's degrees; in 2001–02 the proportion rose to 57% and is projected to remain around this percentage or slightly higher through 2012–13. (See Table 9.9.) The fields with the greatest numbers of degrees awarded were education and business management/administration. (See Table 9.10.)

Doctoral Degrees

The number of doctorates conferred remained virtually unchanged, at around 33,000, throughout most of the 1970s and early 1980s. Between 1986–87 and 1997–98 the number increased to about 46,000, and it has declined slightly since then. In 2001–02 degrees conferred at this level totaled 44,160. (See Table 9.9.) Generally, men receiving doctoral degrees outnumbered women, but the number of women earning doctorates has more than doubled since the late 1970s. In 2001–02 women earned 46% of all doctoral degrees conferred. The NCES projects that through 2012–13 the proportion will remain about the same or increase slightly. (See Table 9.9.) The majority of doctorates earned in 2001–02 were in education and technical fields such as engineering, the biological/life sciences, and physical sciences/science technologies. (See Table 9.10.)

First-Professional Degrees

According to the NCES, 70,698 first-professional degrees were conferred in 2001–02. There have been large changes in the total number of first-professional degrees (dentistry, medicine, law, and others) awarded to women. There was an almost 700% increase from 1970–71 to 1980–81. (The increase for men during the same period was 49%.) By 2001–02 first-professional degrees earned by women had increased from the 1980–81 figures an additional 99%. Women still lagged behind men, however, earning 47% of all first-professional degrees in 2001–02. Yet this was a marked change from 1970–71, when only 6% of all first-professional degrees went to women. (See Table 9.9.) Women received 38% of dental degrees, 44% of medical degrees, and 48% of all law degrees in 2001–02. (See Table 9.11.)


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in fall 2001 nearly 3.1 million people were involved in operating the nation's colleges and universities.

Total graduate enrollment in all degree-granting institutions, by sex, attendance status, and control of institution, with alternative projections, Fall 1988–Fall 2013
[In thousands]
YearTotalSexAttendance statusControl
Note: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Data for 1999 were imputed using alternative procedures.
Source: Debra E. Gerald and William J. Hussar, "Table 20. Total Graduate Enrollment in All Degree-Granting Institutions, by Sex, Attendance Status, and Control of Institution, with Alternative Projections: Fall 1988 to Fall 2013," in Projections of Education Statistics to 2013, NCES 2004-013, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, October 2003, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Middle alternative projections
Low alternative projections
High alternative projections
Total first-professional enrollment in all degree-granting institutions, by sex, attendance status, and control of institution, with alternative projections, Fall 1988–Fall 2013
[In thousands]
YearTotalSexAttendance statusControl
Note: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Data for 1999 were imputed using alternative procedures.
Source: Debra E. Gerald and William J. Hussar, "Table 20. Total First-Professional Enrollment in All Degree-Granting Institutions, by Sex, Attendance Status, and Control of Institution, with Alternative Projections: Fall 1988 to Fall 2013," in Projections of Education Statistics to 2013, NCES 2004-013, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, October 2003, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Middle alternative projections
Low alternative projections
High alternative projections
Earned degrees conferred by degree-granting institutions, by level of degree and sex of student, selected years, 1869–70 to 2012–13
YearAssociate degreesBachelor's degreesMaster's degreesFirst-professional degreesDoctor's degreesa

About 2.1 million (69%) were professional staff, including executives, administrators, and instructors. Almost 31% (951,203) were nonprofessional, such as clerical or secretarial staff, paraprofessionals, and skilled staff, including building maintenance and groundskeepers. (See Table 9.12.)

In fall 2001 approximately 1.5 million men accounted for 47% of all employees at degree-granting institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The 1.1 million men employed in professional roles comprised more than half (52%) of the professional staff; 644,514 (58%) of the 1.1 million faculty members were men. (See Table 9.12.)


In 2001, 2.2 million non-Hispanic whites made up more than 72% of all employees at degree-granting institutions. Non-Hispanic African-Americans (309,252) accounted for about 10% of employees; Hispanics (157,128) comprised 5%; Asians or Pacific Islanders (148,945) were 5%; and Native Americans (18,423) made up less than 1%. Nonresident aliens (135,026) made up about 4%. (See Table 9.12.)

Earned degrees conferred by degree-granting institutions, by level of degree and sex of student, selected years, 1869–70 to 2012–13 [continued]
YearAssociate degreesBachelor's degreesMaster's degreesFirst-professional degreesDoctor's degreesa
—Not available.
aIncludes Ph.D., Ed.D., and comparable degrees at the doctoral level. Excludes first-professional, such as M.D., D.D.S., and law degrees.
bIncludes first-professional degrees.
cFirst-professional degrees are included with bachelor's degrees.
Note: Data for 1869–70 to 1994–95 are for institutions of higher education. Institutions of higher education were accredited by an agency or association that was recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, or recognized directly by the Secretary of Education. The new degree-granting classification is very similar to the earlier higher education classification, except that it includes some additional institutions, primarily 2-year colleges, and excludes a few higher education institutions that did not award associate or higher degrees. Data for 1998–99 were imputed using alternative procedures. Some data have been revised from previously published figures. Detail may not sum to totals due to rounding.
Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Alexandra G. Tan, and Charlene M. Hoffman, "Table 249. Earned Degrees Conferred by Degree-Granting Institutions, by Level of Degree and Sex of Student: Selected Years, 1869–70 to 2012–13," in Digest of Education Statistics, 2003, NCES 2005-025, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, December 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, average faculty salary decreased during the late 1970s and then recovered during the late 1980s. It remained relatively stable for the next decade and then increased again, starting in the late 1990s. In 1977–78 the average salary for full-time faculty (expressed in 2002–03 dollars) was $57,000, and in 2002–03 it had increased to $62,800. With all benefits included, the average faculty salary was $66,600 in 1977–78 and $78,300 in 2002–03. In 2002–03 the average salary of a full professor was $86,100. For associate and assistant professors, the average salaries were $62,800 and $52,800, respectively, while instructors earned an average of $47,300 and lecturers earned $43,700. (See Table 9.13.)


According to the U.S. Department of Education in The Condition of Education 2005, public two- and four-year degree-granting institutions took in $138 billion in education and general revenue in 2000–01. Federal, state, and local governments provided 46% of that sum ($64 billion); tuition and fees at public institutions accounted for 23% ($32 billion) of income; and donations, endowments, and government contracts produced another 30% ($42 billion) in 2000–01. Combined spending on post-secondary institutions from both public and private sources averaged $20,358 per student in the United States in 2000, the highest dollar amount in a survey of the thirty countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. (See Table 2.8 in Chapter 2.) This figure was up 6% from the $19,220 per student spent in 1999 in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

TABLE 9.10
Degrees conferred by degree-granting institutions, by control of institution, level of degree, and discipline division, 2001–02
Discipline divisionPublic institutionsPrivate institutions
Associate degreesBachelor's degreesMaster's degreesDoctor's degreesaAssociate degreesBachelor's degreesMaster's degreesDoctor's degreesa
aIncludes Ph.D., Ed.D., and comparable degrees at the doctoral level. Excludes first-professional degrees, such as M.D., D.D.S., and law degrees.
bIncludes "Agricultural business and production," "Agricultural sciences," and "Conservation and renewable natural resources."
cIncludes "Business management and administrative services," "Marketing operations/marketing and distribution," and "Consumer and personal services."
Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Alexandra G. Tan, and Charlene M. Hoffman, "Table 257. Degrees Conferred by Degree-Granting Institutions, by Control of Institution, Level of Degree, and Discipline Division, 2001–02" in Digest of Education Statistics, 2003, NCES 2005-025, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, December 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Agriculture and natural resourcesb6,13521,0513,9181,1463592,30260120
Architecture and related programs3536,7702,944123902,0381,62260
Area, ethnic, and cultural studies853,7918071202342,76677196
Biological sciences/life sciences1,40039,6334,1233,05911720,6232,0821,430
Communications technologies1,51652811005055824399
Computer and information sciences14,38125,8737,93644816,58421,4268,177302
Construction trades2,216730042312990
Engineering-related technologies17,28010,3677841415,6153,7501121
English language and literature/letters81336,4355,2211,0665116,7272,047380
Foreign languages and literatures43110,1472,080557865,171781286
Health professions and related sciences65,79146,27223,2242,04914,09724,24520,4201,474
Home economics and vocational home economics9,00415,5581,5692554762,5951,047100
Law and legal studies3,8621,106854102,9638653,19969
Liberal arts and sciences, general studies, and humanities198,92427,6261,112338,23911,7071,64280
Library science94734,13943219742
Mechanics and repairers7,69774004,3899000
Multi/interdisciplinary studies12,97220,2821,8352102327,3471,376174
Parks, recreation, leisure, and fitness studies65715,1272,1891381735,42756513
Philosophy and religion893,842438212455,464896394
Physical sciences and science technologies2,22411,6783,6842,693846,1731,3501,110
Precision production trades6,968356003,85011220
Protective services15,25819,0371,580461,4316,4991,3553
Public administration and services3,00713,25415,7843113166,1389,664260
R.O.T.C. and military technologies623000000
Social sciences and history5,33486,4548,7732,45725946,4205,3391,445
Theological studies/religious vocations00004147,7854,9521,355
Transportation and material moving workers7411,6497404182,3716350
Visual and performing arts8,26236,5495,73271112,64930,2245,863403
Not classified by field of study53000312264240

What Students Pay

The cost of a college education has been increasing dramatically for some time. In The Condition of Education 2005, the U.S. Department of Education reports that government appropriations per student for public institutions increased 3% from 1969–70 to 2000–01 when adjusted for inflation, but that tuition and fees paid by individuals had increased by 99% during the same period. According to Trends in College Pricing (College Board, 2004), in 2004–05, the average residential student paid $14,640 in total costs if he or she attended an in-state, four-year public college, including $5,132 in tuition and fees, $6,222 in room and board, $853 in books and supplies, $774 for transportation, and $1,659 in other costs. At a four-year private college, total costs were $30,295. The West had the lowest tuition rate for public four-year institutions, the Southwest had the lowest

TABLE 9.11
First-professional degrees conferred by degree-granting institutions in dentistry, medicine, and law, selected years, 1949–50 to 2001–02
YearDentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)Medicine (M.D.)Law (LL.B. or J.D.)
Number of institutions conferring degreesDegrees conferredNumber of institutions conferring degreesDegrees conferredNumber of institutions conferring degreesDegrees conferred
TABLE 9.11
First-professional degrees conferred by degree-granting institutions in dentistry, medicine, and law, selected years, 1949–50 to 2001–02 [continued]
YearDentistry (D.D.S. or D.M.D.)Medicine (M.D.)Law (LL.B. or J.D.)
Number of institutions conferring degreesDegrees conferredNumber of institutions conferring degreesDegrees conferredNumber of institutions conferring degreesDegrees conferred
—Not available.
Note: Data for 1998–99 were imputed using alternative procedures.
Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Alexandra G. Tan, and Charlene M. Hoffman, "Table 259. First-Professional Degrees Conferred by Degree-Granting Institutions in Dentistry, Medicine, and Law, by Number of Institutions Conferring Degrees and Sex of Student: Selected Years, 1949–50 to 2001–02" in Digest of Education Statistics, 2003, NCES 2005-025, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, December 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)

tuition rate for private four-year institutions, New England had the highest rate for private four-year institutions, and the Middle states had the highest rate for public four-year institutions. (See Table 9.14.)

TABLE 9.12
Employees in degree-granting institutions, by selected characteristics, Fall 2001
Primary occupation, sex, employment status, and type and control of institutionTotalWhite, non-HispanicBlack, non-HispanicHispanicAsian/Pacific IslanderAmerican Indian/Alaska NativeNonresident alienRace/ethnicity unknown
    Total, all institutions3,083,3532,232,847309,252157,128148,94518,423135,02681,732
Professional staff2,132,1501,600,939141,53575,120111,79710,831125,03366,895
    Faculty (instruction and research)1,113,183881,24361,84936,37654,8695,34628,94944,551
    Instruction and research assistants261,136134,7749,2037,86920,4421,13576,18811,525
    Non-faculty professionals605,793459,15256,31225,46332,8243,44019,2229,380
Nonprofessional staff951,203631,908167,71782,00837,1487,5929,99314,837
Men, total1,451,7731,051,988117,74668,96776,2698,08284,72044,001
Professional staff1,105,053826,07057,74336,08061,8665,15080,23137,913
    Faculty (instruction and research)644,514509,61629,83120,14735,4472,85219,88526,736
    Instruction and research assistants142,12067,5553,6113,81311,63851448,7576,232
    Non-faculty professionals239,071181,74918,1699,53112,8721,35711,1904,203
Nonprofessional staff346,720225,91860,00332,88714,4032,9324,4896,088
Women, total1,631,5801,180,859191,50688,16172,67610,34150,30637,731
Professional staff1,027,097774,86983,79239,04049,9315,68144,80228,982
    Faculty (instruction and research)468,669371,62732,01816,22919,4222,4949,06417,815
    Instruction and research assistants119,01667,2195,5924,0568,80462127,4315,293
    Non-faculty professionals366,722277,40338,14315,93219,9522,0838,0325,177
Nonprofessional staff604,483405,990107,71449,12122,7454,6605,5048,749
Full-time, total2,043,2081,520,204236,129112,27499,84412,93042,64419,183
Professional staff1,283,6841,014,65894,91646,02870,7176,74537,55313,067
    Faculty (instruction and research)617,868499,55731,68118,51438,0262,77520,7556,560
    Non-faculty professionals519,293393,73249,51522,28329,1503,09416,1645,355
Nonprofessional staff759,524505,546141,21366,24629,1276,1855,0916,116
Part-time, total1,040,145712,64373,12344,85449,1015,49392,38262,549
Professional staff848,466586,28146,61929,09241,0804,08687,48053,828
    Faculty (instruction and research)495,315381,68630,16817,86216,8432,5718,19437,991
    Instruction and research assistants261,136134,7749,2037,86920,4421,13576,18811,525
    Non-faculty professionals86,50065,4206,7973,1803,6743463,0584,025
Nonprofessional staff191,679126,36226,50415,7628,0211,4074,9028,721
Public 4-year1,558,5761,102,022153,29776,73789,83410,34297,97828,366
    Professional staff1,069,161775,81166,40835,90469,4455,91193,59622,086
        Faculty (instruction and research)438,459345,63621,66012,83329,0452,26219,1537,870
        Instruction and research assistants218,260115,3457,5766,38417,15698562,6838,131
        Non-faculty professionals352,197265,57530,96514,53921,7732,31811,5125,515
    Nonprofessional staff489,415326,21186,88940,83320,3894,4314,3826,280
Private 4-year912,924669,59196,89140,32041,2302,63133,79828,463
    Professional staff627,364482,50541,62818,28230,6521,56529,28123,451
        Faculty (instruction and research)325,713260,16116,3677,68815,9547967,91916,828
        Instruction and research assistants41,61118,5551,4851,4323,26010313,4933,283
        Non-faculty professionals194,301148,35918,2357,2669,7954997,4642,683
    Nonprofessional staff285,560187,08655,26322,03810,5781,0664,5175,012

Many factors have contributed to the increase in costs at public schools, including declines in government appropriations, increases in instructional and student services costs, and increases in research expenditures. States have raised room and board and tuition costs at once-inexpensive state schools to compensate for declining federal aid. Public schools still remain significantly less expensive than private schools, but they are not quite the educational bargains that they once were. Private schools attribute their increases to several factors, including higher student aid, increases in salaries and benefits for faculty and staff, higher energy costs, and maintenance of academic programs and libraries.

Financial Assistance for Students

Federal assistance that goes directly to students includes Pell Grants, funds from the Stafford Student Loan Program, and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants. Colleges or universities also receive assistance, which they in turn pay out to students, through Campus-Based Programs and Perkins Loans. In general, the federal government has shifted its spending from grants to loans.

TABLE 9.12
Employees in degree-granting institutions, by selected characteristics, Fall 2001 [continued]
Primary occupation, sex, employment status, and type and control of institutionTotalWhite, non-HispanicBlack, non-HispanicHispanicAsian/Pacific IslanderAmerican Indian/Alaska NativeNonresident alienRace/ethnicity unknown
Source: Thomas D. Snyder, Alexandra G. Tan, and Charlene M. Hoffman, "Table 228. Employees in Degree-Granting Institutions, by Race/Ethnicity, Primary Occupation, Sex, Employment Status, and Control and Type of Institution: Fall 2001," in Digest of Education Statistics, 2003, NCES 2005-025, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, December 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)
Public 2-year578,394435,67455,91638,08516,8895,0013,18023,649
    Professional staff408,792321,57031,08919,60110,9563,1032,10220,371
        Faculty (instruction and research)332,665262,45322,44315,1549,3982,1731,84419,200
        Instruction and research assistants1,21583214051254711109
        Non-faculty professionals52,34640,0946,3343,1651,071530231921
    Nonprofessional staff169,602114,10424,82718,4845,9331,8981,0783,278
Private 2-year33,45925,5603,1481,986992449701,254
    Professional staff26,83321,0532,4101,33374425254987
        Faculty (instruction and research)16,34612,9931,37970147211533653
        Instruction and research assistants5042221012
        Non-faculty professionals6,9495,1247784931859315261
    Nonprofessional staff6,6264,50773865324819716267
TABLE 9.13
Average salaries of full-time instructional faculty at degree-granting institutions, selected academic years, 1977–78 to 2002–03
[In constant 2002–03 dollars]
Compensation, salary, and benefitsa1977–781982–831987–881992–931997–982002–03Percent change 1987–88 to 2002–03
∗Total compensation is the sum of salary and fringe benefits. Salary does not include outside income. Fringe benefits may include, for example, retirement plans, medical/dental plans, group life insurance, other insurance benefits, guaranteed disability income protection, tuition plans (dependent only), housing plans, Social Security taxes, unemployment compensation, worker's compensation, or other benefits.
Note: Full-time instructional faculty on less-than-9-month contracts were excluded. In 2002–03, there were about 3,500 of these faculty, accounting for less than 1 percent of all full-time instructional faculty at degree-granting institutions. Salaries, benefits, and compensation were in constant 2002–03 dollars, which were adjusted by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and rounded to the nearest 100. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
Source: John Wirt, Susan Choy, Patrick Rooney, William Hussar, Stephen Provasnik, and Gillian Hampden-Thompson, "Faculty Salaries: Average Salaries of Full-time Instructional Faculty at Degree-granting Institutions by Academic Rank and Type of Institution, Average Fringe Benefits, and Total Compensation: Selected Academic Years, 1977–78 to 2002–03," in The Condition of Education, 2005, NCES 2005-094, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics,Washington, DC, June 2005, (accessed July 26, 2005)
    Total compensation$66,600$63,100$70,000$72,700$73,500$78,30011.9
    Academic rank
        Associate professor58,00051,80057,50058,10058,60062,8009.2
        Assistant professor47,40042,30047,40048,20048,40052,80011.4
        No rank52,10046,60049,60048,10049,00046,500−6.3
    Type of institution
        Doctoral universities64,60059,40067,50068,60070,80075,50011.9
        Master's colleges and universities55,70050,30056,40055,10056,00057,8002.5
        Other 4-year47,40044,60048,80050,40050,40052,7008.0
Fringe benefits9,60011,00011,60013,70013,80015,50033.6

According to Trends in Student Aid (College Board, 2004), aid to all students consisted of 56% loans, 38% grants, 1% work, and 5% tax benefits in 2003–04. For undergraduate students, 44% of aid received was in the form of grants, and almost half (49%) was in the form of
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loans. Graduate students relied on loans 75% of the time and grants 22% of the time.

According to the College Board, in 2003–04 undergraduate and graduate students received more than $122 billion in financial aid. The largest share of aid was in the form of federal loans, which accounted for more than 47% ($56.8 billion) of the total. Institutional grants made up more than 19% ($23.3 billion) of the total aid to students, and federal Pell Grants made up about 10% ($12.7 billion).


Regardless of the increases in costs of attendance, the investment in higher education offers impressive returns, and the number of years of school completed by those twenty-five and older steadily increased between 1940 and 2002. (See Figure 9.6.) According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2002 median annual income for people twenty-five and older with a bachelor's degree or more was nearly twice as much as median annual income among households headed by workers who were high school graduates. (See Figure 9.7.) The unemployment rate of people twenty-five and older with a bachelor's degree or higher in 2002 was 2.9%, compared to 8.4% for people who did not graduate from high school. (See Figure 9.8.)


Distance education is not a new concept. It started with classes taken by mail (correspondence courses) and by watching teachers' lectures on videos or cable television. Now the term refers to education or training courses delivered to off-campus locations via audio, video, or computer technologies. Distance learning can be used to describe various types of courses, programs, providers, and delivery systems, including online learning.

Distance education is growing rapidly. Many colleges and universities offer online/distance education programs. Enrollment, number of courses, and degrees offered are increasing. Schools usually team up with course management system vendors, which provide the software platforms for online courses. Other schools enter into corporate-university joint ventures run by hybrid content providers that offer courses and programs designed by individual faculty members at universities. Purely "virtual" universities also exist. Generally, these distance education providers offer undergraduate and graduate degrees, and enrollment ranges from a few hundred students to more than 20,000.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2000–01 enrollment in distance education courses had nearly doubled since 1997–98. More than half (57%) of the institutions in the sample offered distance education courses in 2000–01, up from 34% in 1997–98. While the majority of public two-year and four-year institutions (90% and 89%, respectively) offered distance education, it was less common at private four-year institutions (39%) in 2000–01. In 2000–01 more than three-quarters (76%—2,350,000 of 3,077,000) of the enrollments in distance learning programs were at the undergraduate level. (See Table 9.15.)


Illicit Drug Use

Monitoring the Future: National Survey Results on Drug Use, 1975–2003, Volume II: College Students and Adults Ages 19-45 (National Institute on Drug Abuse, Bethesda, MD, September 2004) was prepared by Lloyd D. Johnston, Patrick M. O'Malley, Jerald G. Bachman, and John E. Schulenberg at the University of Michigan. The survey of drug use among college students covers full-time students, one to four years out of high school, who were enrolled in two- or four-year institutions.

Compared to their nonstudent peers, college students showed a somewhat higher annual prevalence of illicit drug use in 2003 (36.5%, compared to 33% for young adults ages nineteen to twenty-eight). College students also reported a greater prevalence of drug use in the thirty days prior to the survey than did their nonstudent peers (21.4% versus 19.9%). Annual prevalence means using a drug at any time within the year preceding the survey; thirty-day prevalence refers to using a drug in the thirty days prior to the survey. Drug use among college students has generally increased since 1991.

In 2003 more than one-third of college students (33.7%) reported that they had used marijuana at some time during the previous year, compared to 29% of nonstudents. Fewer students used cocaine (5.4%) than did their nonstudent peers (6.6%). Use of cocaine within the previous year increased for both college students and young adults not in college. Heroin use remained under 1% among both students and nonstudents in 2003.

Alcohol Use

College students who responded to the 2003 survey were slightly less likely to have used alcohol in the past year than their nonstudent peers (81.7%, compared to 83.3%). The high incidence of heavy or "binge" drinking (five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks) among college students has been an important issue in recent years. In 2003 about 38.5% of college students reported bouts of heavy drinking in the previous two weeks, compared to 35.8% of nonstudent young adults. Binge drinking has not fluctuated much among either group since 1991.

Tobacco Use

According to Monitoring the Future, full-time college students were less likely than other people in the same age group to be regular smokers. In 2002 nearly 16% of college students reported smoking daily, down from 19% in 1999. About 8% reported smoking half a pack or more per day. About 21% of nonstudents in the same age group reported smoking daily, while 14% said they smoked half a pack or more a day.

TABLE 9.15
Distance education institutions and enrollment, by level and type of institution, 1997–98 and 2000–01
Type of institutionTotal number of institutionsNumber of institutions offering distance education coursesTotal number of enrollments in all distance education coursesNumber of enrollments in college-level, credit-granting distance education courses
Undergraduate and graduate levelsUndergraduate coursesGraduate/first-professional courses
∗Reporting standards not met (too few cases).
Note: The sample for the 1997–98 survey consisted of 2- and 4-year postsecondary institutions (both higher education and postsecondary institutions) in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The 2000–01 survey consisted of 2- and 4-year Title IV-eligible, degree-granting institutions in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The change was made because NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) shifted the way in which it categorizes postsecondary institutions. Data for private 2-year institutions are not reported in a separate category because too few private 2-year institutions in the sample offered distance education courses to make reliable estimates. Data for private 2-year institutions are included in the totals. Enrollments may include duplicated counts of students because institutions were instructed to count a student enrolled in multiple courses for each course in which that student was enrolled. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding, missing data, or because too few cases were reported for a reliable estimate for private 2-year institutions.
Source: John Wirt, Susan Choy, Stephen Provasnik, Patrick Rooney, Anindita Sen, and Richard Tobin, "Table 32-1. Total Number of Institutions That Offered Distance Education Courses, Total Number of Enrollments in All Distance Education Courses, and the Number of Enrollments in College-Level, Credit-Granting Distance Education Courses, by Level and Type of Institution: 1997–98 and 2000–01," in The Condition of Education, 2004, NCES 2004-077, U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC, June 2004, (accessed July 26, 2005)
All institutions5,0101,6801,661,0001,364,0001,082,000281,000
Public 2-year1,230760714,000691,000691,000
Public 4-year610480711,000453,000290,000163,000
Private 4-year2,050390222,000209,00091,000118,000
All institutions4,1302,3203,077,0002,876,0002,350,000510,000
Public 2-year1,0709601,472,0001,436,0001,435,000
Public 4-year620550945,000888,000566,000308,000
Private 4-year1,800710589,000480,000278,000202,000

Colleges and Universities

views updated May 11 2018


The term college is a general one that encompasses a wide range of higher-education institutions, including those that offer two- to four-year programs in the arts and sciences, technical and vocational schools, and junior and community colleges. The term university specifically describes an institution that provides graduate and professional education in addition to four-year post-secondary education. Despite these distinctions, the terms college and university are frequently used interchangeably in the United States.

The first institution of higher education in the United States was Harvard College, founded in 1636. At the time of the Revolutionary War, nine colleges existed in the colonies—a number that had tripled by the time of the Civil War. In 1876, the first true university in the United States was established, with the founding of Johns Hopkins, in Baltimore. The university format rapidly gained popularity, and prominent private and state-run colleges soon assumed university status. According to the Statistical Abstract of the United States, 4,084 colleges and universities operated in the United States in 1999.

U.S. colleges and universities fall into two general categories: private and public. Private institutions are usually corporations operating under state charters. Although tuition and private gifts and endowments provide much of their financial support, most private colleges and universities also receive some degree of government support. Many of the 2,000-plus private colleges and universities in the United States claim a religious affiliation.

Public institutions are established either by state constitution or by statute, and they receive funding from state appropriations as well as tuition and endowments. Although the federal government operates several institutions of higher learning, such as the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy, it is prohibited by statute from exercising direct control over other educational institutions.

The Legal Climate

U.S. colleges and universities are governed by many of the same laws that regulate the rest of U.S. society. In addition, they have generated a unique body of law. Educational institutions reflect the legal climate of the rest of the country, but the importance of a good education has elevated equal access, equal opportunity, and academic freedom to a higher status than they might otherwise assume.

Three general types of laws affect the operation of colleges and universities. State laws affect public and private colleges and universities in the absence of federal laws that supersede them. Federal laws may affect public and private institutions, and they usually affect entities that receive federal funding or that are subject to regulation under the commerce clause of the Constitution. The most common such laws are statutes that prohibit discrimination. Finally, the Constitution governs public, but almost never private, institutions.

As state entities, public institutions must conform to constitutional provisions that prohibit the state from discriminating and from denying constitutional rights. Thus, much of the law of public institutions stems from constitutional amendments such as the following:

  • the Free Speech Clause of the first amendment, which guarantees that the government will not interfere with freedom of speech
  • the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, which ensures that the government will not interfere with or outlaw religious expression
  • the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, which prohibits the government from endorsing or establishing a state religion
  • the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment, which guarantees that a state will enforce its laws equally with respect to all persons, with certain exceptions
  • the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which requires the state to provide certain procedural safeguards before depriving an individual of a liberty or property interest. State-run institutions also are subject to state and often federal law.

Private institutions are not governed directly by the Constitution. Instead, they are regulated solely by state and federal law. Since the mid 1960s, federal laws enacted pursuant to Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce have enabled the federal government to regulate much private university activity that the Constitution cannot reach directly. Such federal statutes often protect against discriminatory behavior not otherwise foreclosed by the Constitution, such as discrimination based on age or disability. Accordingly, a university may not discriminate merely because it is a private entity. The most important statutes governing the behavior of private universities are the same statutes regulating public accommodations, employment, and federally funded activities:

  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C.A. § 2000a et seq., which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race by entities that receive federal funding
  • Title VII of the civil rights act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, or religion, by entities employing a certain number of workers (generally 15)
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (codified in scattered sections of 7, 12, 16, 20, and 42 U.S.C.A.), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender by entities that receive federal funding
  • the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 U.S.C.A. § 621 et seq., which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of age against individuals between the ages of 40 and 70 by entities employing a certain number of workers (generally twenty)
  • the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, codified in scattered sections of 2, 29, 42, and 47 U.S.C.A., which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability in public accommodations, transportation, and employment, by a wide range of privately owned entities
  • the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C.A. § 701 et seq., which prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by entities that receive federal funding
  • the Higher Education Act, 20 U.S.C.A. § 403 et seq., which establishes federal financial aid programs and the conditions accompanying them; the education department (until 1980, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare) administers Title VI, Title IX, and the Higher Education Act.

Racial Discrimination

The Equal Protection Clause and Public Institutions The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibits a state from denying to individuals the equal protection of the laws. This clause requires, among other things, that a state and its instrumentalities may not treat members of different racial or ethnic backgrounds differently unless the discriminatory action is necessary to achieve a compelling government purpose and is narrowly tailored to satisfy that purpose. Despite the Fourteenth Amendment's passage in 1870, public higher education in the United States remained legally segregated on the basis of race until the mid-1950s. This de jure (i.e., legally sanctioned) segregation may be traced to a pre-Civil War decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Court upholding the legality of segregated schools in the heart of abolitionist territory (Roberts v. Boston, 59 Mass. [5 Cush.] 198 [1849]).

After the Civil War, Congress outlawed slavery and made discrimination by the state unconstitutional, with the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution. Not much changed, however, as states, obligated to provide all citizens with the equal protection of the laws, devised bifurcated educational systems that provided white citizens with one set of schools and black citizens with a supposedly parallel, but grossly underfunded and qualitatively inferior, set of schools. These systems were approved by the U.S. Supreme Court as "separate but equal" in Cumming v. Board of Education of Richmond County, 175 U.S. 528, 20 S. Ct. 197, 44 L. Ed. 262 (1899).

Public centers of higher education also remained segregated and unequal. Many states established dual systems of higher education. A number of states established whites-only flagship campuses, with separate blacks-only campuses that received less funding and fewer resources; others simply refused to admit black students.

In the early twentieth century, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (naacp) began its attack against segregated schools at the university level, where it won a series of cases that eroded the separate-but-equal principle. In the first of these cases, decided under the Equal Protection Clause, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a state could not avoid training qualified black law students by providing them tuition payments to out-of-state

law schools rather than permitting them to attend an in-state school (Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada, 305 U.S. 337, 59 S. Ct. 232, 83 L. Ed. 208 [1938]). Next, in McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents, 339 U.S. 637, 70 S. Ct. 851, 94 L. Ed. 1149 (1950), the Court held that the University of Oklahoma could not force its only black graduate student to sit in a hallway adjoining the classroom in which a course was offered, nor could it require the student to sit behind a railing marked "Reserved for Colored." Finally, in Sweatt v. Painter, 339 U.S. 629, 70 S. Ct. 848, 94 L. Ed. 1114 (1950), the Court found that a proposed blacks-only law school in Texas would be unequal to the prestigious and then-all-white University of Texas Law School not only in the quality of its tangible facilities but also in the quality of such intangibles as reputation and education.

Despite these early victories, de jure racial segregation of public colleges and universities did not become illegal until the Court decided brown v. board of education of topeka, kansas, 347 U.S. 483, 74 S. Ct. 686, 98 L. Ed. 873

(1954). Following Brown, schools throughout the United States were required to adopt desegregation policies, but de facto (i.e., actual) segregation remained in many university systems.

Litigation in the federal courts continues more than 40 years after Brown. In 1992, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the state of Mississippi had failed to satisfy its duty to desegregate the state university system, in United States v. Fordice, 505 U.S. 717, 112 S. Ct. 2727, 120 L. Ed. 2d 575 (1992). In Fordice, the state had eliminated its requirement that blacks and whites be educated separately, but allowed previously white schools to remain distinct from previously black schools, and inaccessible to black students. By the mid-1980s, previously all-white schools in Mississippi remained over 80 percent white and previously all-black schools remained over 90 percent black. The Court found that the state's policy of requiring higher American College Test (ACT) scores for admission to white schools than to black schools perpetuated the state's formerly de jure dual system because it effectively foreclosed many black students from attending white schools and forced them to attend black schools, which received less funding. The Court ruled that merely abolishing legal segregation and implementing race-neutral policies (i.e., policies that purport to treat individuals equally without regard to race) did not satisfy the state's duty to desegregate. Instead, the Court held, if schools or school policies maintain racially identifiable characteristics that can be traced to state action, the state may be deemed to perpetuate former discriminatory practices in violation of the Equal Protection Clause. In the wake of Fordice, federal courts re-examined segregated systems of higher education in several states (Knight v. Alabama, 14 F.3d 1534 [11th Cir. 1994]; United States v. Louisiana, 9 F.3d 1159 [5th Cir. 1993]).

Federal Law and Private Institutions In 1964, in response to the slow pace of racial reform, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race (and sometimes gender) in public accommodations, federally funded programs, and employment. Title VI of the act prohibits discrimination "on the basis of race, color, or national origin," in "any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance," which includes many centers of higher learning in the United States. Title VI reaches state and private schools that receive direct federal funding. It also reaches some institutions that receive no direct federal aid but that have a significant proportion of students who do (Grove City College v. Bell, 465 U.S. 555, 104 S. Ct. 1211, 79 L. Ed. 2d 516 [1984]).

Affirmative Action Beginning in the late 1960s, in response to the civil rights movement, many universities began adopting affirmative action policies. Such policies attempt to encourage or to promote racial equality by ending de jure inequalities that remain even though legal inequalities have been abolished. In the beginning, many institutions employed quotas that reserved a certain number of spots for applicants of racial minorities. Other institutions considered membership in a racial minority as one variable in determining whether to admit a student.

It was not long before affirmative action policies came under legal attack as "reverse discrimination." The first serious challenge to affirmative action, regents of the university of california v. bakke, 438 U.S. 265, 98 S. Ct. 2733, 57 L. Ed. 2d 750 (1978), fundamentally changed its structure. In Bakke, Allan Bakke, a civil engineer of Norwegian descent, applied for admission to a medical program at the University of California. The program in question set aside 16 spaces for minority students out of a class of 100. Candidates for the set-aside spaces did not have to meet the minimum grade-point-average threshold established for other candidates. Although Bakke's grade-point average fell slightly below the minimum, he argued that he would have been admitted on an evaluative basis if the set-aside spots had not existed. He sued the university under Title VI and the Equal Protection Clause, arguing that the affirmative action program discriminated against him on the basis of his race. The U.S. Supreme Court found that the university's affirmative action program violated Title VI because it used strict racial quotas to determine admission.

The Court found that the program also violated the Equal Protection Clause, because it was not narrowly tailored to meet a compelling government interest. The Court observed that the program was designed to remedy the effects of general societal discrimination (a legitimate, but not compelling, government interest), not its own specific discriminatory practices, which might constitute a compelling interest. Nonetheless, the Court held that the use of race as one criterion in determining admission does not violate either Title VI or the Fourteenth Amendment. In doing so, it did not prohibit all consideration of race in admission decisions, noting with approval certain programs that take race into account to promote educational diversity.

Following Bakke, programs that set aside a fixed number of spaces for minority students no longer constituted an acceptable means of affirmative action. Most universities that maintained affirmative action programs adopted the type of program approved in Bakke, which permits the consideration of race in admission or scholarship decisions in order to encourage diversity. Some schools also introduced scholarships that were designed to benefit only certain groups, such as students belonging to a particular race. Beginning in the mid-1980s, as the U.S. Supreme Court began holding that affirmative action programs designed to remedy the effects of past discrimination would need to satisfy the same strict standards as other race-based classifications (City of Richmond v. J. A. Croson Co., 488 U.S. 469, 109 S. Ct. 706, 102 L. Ed. 2d 854 [1989]), race-restricted scholarships became the focus of lawsuits.

In Podberesky v. Kirwan, 38 F.3d 147 (4th Cir. 1994), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit considered a challenge to the University of Maryland's Banneker Scholarship program, a merit-based scholarship for which only black students were eligible. Daniel J. Podberesky, a Hispanic student, qualified for the Banneker Scholarship in all respects but race. He sued the university, alleging that the scholarship program discriminated on the basis of race. The university countered that the program was designed to remedy the institution's own past discrimination, which had led to the underrepresentation of black students at the university. The court held that the Banneker program violated the Fourteenth Amendment because it was not narrowly tailored to remedy the effects of the university's past discrimination.

Gender Discrimination

Segregated Public Institutions The Equal Protection Clause does not require states to satisfy the same strict standards for gender discrimination as for racial discrimination. Whereas states are held to a "strict scrutiny" requirement with regard to racial discrimination, they need only demonstrate that discrimination on the basis of gender substantially furthers an important government purpose.

The men-only policies maintained by the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and the Citadel, of South Carolina, have been challenged throughout the years by women seeking admission. In the early 1990s, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit considered two unrelated cases that challenged the legality of men-only public colleges: Faulkner v. Jones, 51 F.3d 440 (1995), cert. denied, 516 U.S. 910, 116 S. Ct. 331, 133 L. Ed. 2d 202 (1995), and united states v. virginia, 44 F.3d 1229 (1994), cert. granted, 516 U.S. 910, 116 S. Ct. 281, 133 L. Ed. 2d 201 (1995) (hereinafter VMI).

The same court reached two different results in VMI and Faulkner, because Faulkner involved an individual plaintiff who had sought admission to the Citadel, whereas VMI was brought by the department of justice and did not involve a particular student.

In Faulkner, the Court required the Citadel to admit the plaintiff, Shannon Faulkner, because Faulkner was a "real live plaintiff." The court explained that, although admission to the school was the only appropriate remedy in a case involving a live plaintiff, the state might later develop a parallel program, as recommended in VMI, or adopt a coeducational policy.

In VMI, the court held that because "homogeneity of gender" was integral to the type of

leadership education provided at VMI, maintaining a men-only college substantially furthered the legitimate public purpose of providing unique leadership education. It then held that the establishment of a separate-but-parallel, state-sponsored women's college with substantially the same goals as VMI's would satisfy the requirements of the Equal Protection Clause. Faulkner withdrew shortly after the school year began, putting an end to any possible appeals in her case. However, the Court did hear the government's appeal from the VMI decision and held that Virginia's categorical exclusion of women from VMI denied equal protection to women (United States v. Virginia, 116 S. Ct. 2264). The Court agreed that gender-based classifications are not completely forbidden by the Equal Protection Clause, but it stated that Virginia had failed to provide "exceedingly persuasive justification" for excluding women from VMI. In addition, the Court held that the separate-but-parallel women's college that Virginia had proposed violated the Equal Protection Clause, terming the women's college a "pale shadow of VMI" in terms of its educational and leadership opportunities.

Title IX Eight years after Congress enacted Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, it amended the act to extend protection against discrimination in federally funded programs to include gender. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 parallels Title VI and has been used to attack gender discrimination in such diverse areas as admissions, scholarships, discipline, and sexual harassment. For example, in Sharif v. New York State Education Department, 709 F. Supp. 345 (S.D.N.Y. 1989), a federal district court held that the state of New York could not use Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores as its sole criterion for awarding college scholarships, without violating Title IX. Because girls scored an average of 60 points lower on the test than boys did, and because the SAT was not, and did not purport to be, a measure of past performance in school, the court ruled that its use had a discriminatory effect on the awarding of scholarships without bearing any relationship to a reward for successful performance in high school. In Yusuf v. Vassar College, 35 F.3d 709 (1994), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that a private college may have discriminated against a male student who allegedly sexually harassed a female student, by systematically applying different and stricter standards to sexual harassment proceedings than to other disciplinary proceedings. And in Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U.S. 60, 112 S. Ct. 1028, 117 L. Ed. 2d 208 (1992), the U.S. Supreme Court held that Title IX also prohibits sexual harassment in educational institutions and that teachers who sexually harass or abuse students discriminate on the basis of sex in violation of Title IX.

Title IX's most visible effect has been in college athletics. Most colleges and universities operate men's and women's athletic programs, some of which participate in intercollegiate competitions administered by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Title IX caused a great deal of concern when first enacted, as many schools were concerned that they could not remedy unequal participation by men and women in various athletic programs without going to considerable expense or cutting successful programs to achieve gender equality. These schools also were uncertain about the degree of equalizing that would be necessary in order to avoid lawsuits.

In response, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (now the Department of Education) established a three-part test for determining whether an institution is complying with Title IX with respect to its athletic program. An institution has accommodated the interests of male and female students if it satisfies any of the three benchmarks:

… intercollegiate-level participation opportunities for male and female students are provided in numbers substantially proportionate to their respective enrollments; or

Where the members of one sex have been and are underrepresented among intercollegiate athletes, … the institution can show a history and continuing practice of program expansion which is demonstrably responsive to the developing interest and abilities of the members of that sex; or

Where members of one sex are under-represented among intercollegiate athletics and the institution cannot show a continuing practice of program expansion, … it can be demonstrated that the interests and abilities of the members of that sex have been fully and effectively accommodated by the present program (44 Fed. Reg. 71,418 [1979]).

The balance between a university's interest in maintaining a profitable and successful athletic program and its need to comply with Title IX is a delicate one. In Kelley v. Board of Trustees, 35 F.3d 265 (1994), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit addressed a typical case involving these competing interests. In Kelley, the men's swim team at the University of Illinois sued the university for violating Title IX after the school cut the men's, but not the women's, swimming program in an attempt to eliminate unprofitable athletic programs and to reduce its budget deficit. Although neither swim team was popular with spectators, and both programs were historically weak, the university did not cut the women's program because its legal counsel advised that doing so would violate Title IX. The court ruled that eliminating the men's program, but retaining the women's program, did not violate Title IX even though the school treated the two programs differently.

Although Title IX continues to have many critics, the effect that it has had upon women's athletics is practically unquestioned. Twenty-four years after the enactment of Title IX, the number of female athletes at the Olympic Games in Atlanta had risen to 287. The interest among spectators was almost startling, especially because women's athletics had suffered for years in order to garner support. About 65,000 fans watched the women's soccer team in 1996 win the gold medal, and another 35,000 spectators watched the women fall in the finals of the softball competition.

Interest in women's sports continued to increase throughout the 1990s. Although several professional women's basketball leagues had been established, few were successful. This changed in 1997 with the establishment of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), which garnered support from the established National Basketball Association. The league has had unprecedented success, maintaining contracts with television networks that show the games. The focus on women's athletics expanded to a national scale in 1999, when the United States women's soccer team won a stunning victory in the World Cup competition. Neither the men's nor the women's soccer teams had had success in world-class competition, and the women's victory transformed many of the female athletes to celebrity status.

Few question that these events would have occurred were it not for Title IX. Women's college basketball, probably the highest-profiled sport for female athletes, typically receives equal attention as the corresponding men's programs. Likewise, softball and soccer have gained popularity among individual schools as spectator sports. Nevertheless, college and universities continue to pour extensive resources into larger men's program, especially football and men's basketball.

Many athletic departments note that these men's programs earn more revenues based upon a much larger fan base, so the support is justified. Athletic departments often chose to drop minor men's sports instead of adding women's sports, citing the budgetary constraints. Advocates for women's programs counter that cutting the budgets of these programs would not likely hinder the revenues significantly and that it would allow athletic programs both to add women's programs and to retain smaller men's programs.

Policies under the administration of President george w. bush have come under fire from supporters of women's athletics. During his campaign, Bush stated his opposition toward any racial or gender quotas, and some felt that this policy could cause conflict with Title IX. In 2002, the secretary of education established the Commission on Opportunity in Athletics, which issued its final report on February 28, 2003. Although the commission found that opportunities should be improved for all competitors, women's groups claimed that the report undermines the importance of improving opportunities for women's programs specifically.

Academic Freedom: The Right to Speak Freely

The First Amendment prohibits the federal and state governments from infringing on freedom of speech. Not surprisingly, freedom of speech, which is central to academic freedom, is highly prized on college and university campuses. At the same time, most educational institutions recognize the importance of maintaining an atmosphere in which all students enjoy equal educational opportunities and freedom from discrimination. The need to balance differing individual rights has led many universities to enact policies purporting to regulate or discipline certain types of speech, and was the focus of many First Amendment cases in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Racially and religiously motivated acts of vandalism, intimidation, and violence on college campuses began to attract increased attention in the mid 1980s. Much of this activity involved incidents like the following:

  • A fraternity fund-raising "slave auction" featuring fraternity members in blackface who were "sold" to provide services to bidders
  • The distribution at a state school of leaflets warning,"The Knights of the ku klux klan Are Watching You"
  • A poster made by a student and hung on her dormitory room door, listing "homos" as a category of people who would be "shot on sight"

In response, many universities adopted policies that prohibited speech and conduct that caused offense or interfered with educational opportunities based on any number of characteristics, especially race, national origin, gender, and religion. The University of Michigan adopted a typical policy on discrimination and discriminatory harassment that became the subject of a lawsuit in 1989. In Doe v. University of Michigan, 721 F. Supp. 852 (1989), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan examined this policy and determined that it violated the First Amendment because it was vague and overbroad—that is, it was unclear about the scope of the speech that it would affect and thus potentially encompassed constitutionally protected speech. Doe was filed by a graduate student who feared that his theories about genetic bases for differences between men's and women's relative abilities to perform certain tasks would be regarded as a violation of the policy were he to discuss them in class, because some students might regard them as sexist and offensive.

The court agreed that the university policy violated the First Amendment and had a "chilling effect" on the free exchange of ideas. The court observed that the policy certainly applied to speech that would not be constitutionally protected, such as imminent threats of violence, but also swept under its umbrella speech that might be controversial or even offensive but otherwise constitutionally protected. "It is firmly settled," noted the court,

that under our Constitution the public expression of ideas may not be prohibited merely because the ideas are themselves offensive to some of their hearers. These principles acquire a special significance in the university setting, where the free and unfettered interplay of competing views is essential to the institution's education mission.

The court then observed that because Michigan's policy was so vague that it encompassed even constitutionally protected speech, and because this vagueness led to the potential for arbitrary enforcement, the policy was unconstitutional.

First Amendment protection is not limited to the classroom setting alone. In Iota Xi Chapter v. George Mason University, 993 F.2d 386 (1993), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that George Mason University, a state university, had violated the Sigma Chi Fraternity's First Amendment rights by suspending its privileges as a university organization after the fraternity held an event, called the Ugly Woman Contest, that depicted women in a particularly degrading manner. The court held that skits, like motion pictures, movies, theatrical productions, and nude dancing, are a form of expression that are entitled to First Amendment protection.

Public university professors and employees also enjoy First Amendment protection, but as workers in the public sector, they are subject to certain limits. Generally, unlike private-sector employees, who may be disciplined or terminated for nearly anything that is not prohibited by state or federal law, public-sector employees may not be disciplined on the basis of their speech if the speech involves a matter of public concern. The state may discipline an employee if it can show that it would have done so regardless of the speech, or if the speech actually interfered with the effective fulfillment of public responsibilities.

In Jeffries v. Harleston, 52 F.3d 9 (1995), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit held that the City College of New York could reduce the term of a black studies professor's chairmanship based on an off-campus speech he had made (which had included derogatory remarks about Jews) about bias in the New York public-school system. The court ruled that although the speech involved an area of public concern, the college was justified in reducing Jeffries's term because it was motivated by a reasonable prediction that the speech would adversely affect the school's operation. In an earlier case, the same court had held that the City College of New York could not undermine a philosophy professor's classes by setting up "alternative" sessions for students who might want to transfer out of the classes after the professor had published letters to scholarly journals that denigrated the intelligence of blacks (Levin v. Harleston, 966 F.2d 85 [1992]).

Even so, not all speech by public university employees is protected. Employees still may be disciplined for speech that does not involve an area of public concern, as the courts have defined it. In Dambrot v. Central Michigan University, 839 F. Supp. 477 (E.D. Mich. 1993), aff'd, 55 F.3d 1177 (6th Cir. 1995), the district court upheld the termination of a basketball coach who used the term nigger in a locker-room pep talk. The university refused to renew the coach's employment contract, arguing that his use of the term violated the university's policy on racial and ethnic harassment. Although the court found that the school's policy violated the First Amendment (for the same reasons as in Doe), it also found that the coach's speech did not involve an area of public concern.

A public institution also may restrict religious speech by faculty if failure to do so would violate the First Amendment's Establishment Clause (Bishop v. Aronov, 926 F.2d 1066 [1991]). In Bishop, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that the University of Alabama could constitutionally restrict a professor from discussing his religious views during class, and could instruct him not to hold optional class sessions to discuss Christian perspectives on academic topics. The court noted that were the professor permitted to engage in these activities, the university would risk violating the Establishment Clause, which prohibits states from establishing religion and, by extension, extending preferential treatment to, or endorsement of, a particular religious view.

Religion and Public Funding

The Establishment Clause prohibits states from establishing an official religion. Thus, a public university may not denominate itself as a religious school, nor may the state directly fund

a private religious school. At the same time, the Free Exercise Clause prohibits states from restricting individuals in the practice of religion. Thus, a public university may not permit all student groups except for religious groups to use its facilities. Maintaining a balance between the two clauses is not simple, and it has generated controversy in two principal areas: the extent to which the state may fund attendance at private religious schools indirectly, and the extent to which public schools may fund religious activities on campus directly.

Public Funding of Private Religious Practice In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 91 S. Ct. 2105, 29 L. Ed. 2d 745 (1971), which defined the scope of the Establishment Clause. In Lemon, the Court held that a state policy or practice violates the Establishment Clause if it fails to satisfy a three-part test: First, the policy must serve a secular purpose. Second, the primary effect of the policy cannot be to advance or inhibit religion. Third, the policy cannot foster an excessive entanglement of the state with religion.

Unfortunately, the Lemon test is easier to state than to apply, and it has led to numerous lawsuits concerning the relationship of state-funding programs to private religious organizations. Generally, a state law that provides benefits to individuals without regard to religion does not violate the Establishment Clause even if an individual uses the state benefits for a religious purpose. For example, in Witters v. Washington Department of Services for the Blind, 474 U.S. 481, 106 S. Ct. 748, 88 L. Ed. 2d 846 (1986), the U.S. Supreme Court held that a blind Washington resident was eligible for state vocational rehabilitation assistance, even though he planned to use the funds to complete his religious training at a Christian college. The Court held that payment of public assistance by the state satisfied the Lemon test because the aid was provided directly to the individual, was not skewed toward religion in any way, and created no financial incentive for students to undertake religious education. Furthermore, the Court noted that the primary effect of the assistance program was not to advance religion and that religious programs would not benefit in any significant or disproportionate way from the state program.

In contrast, in Stark v. St. Cloud State University, 802 F.2d 1046 (1986), the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit held that a state university violated the Establishment Clause by permitting education students to satisfy their student-teaching requirement at parochial schools. The court noted that the public university approved the use of religious schools, including them on a list of appropriate schools for student teaching, and that because of this, the university had entangled itself excessively with religion.

Public Schools and Religious Activity Funding of religious activities in public schools requires similar balancing. The U.S. Supreme Court held in 1995 that a public university may fund a student-run religious publication without violating the Establishment Clause. In Rosenberger v. Rector of the University of Virginia, 515 U.S.819, 115 S. Ct. 2510, 132 L. Ed. 2d 700 (1995), a sharply divided Court considered a Christian student group's claim that the university's refusal to pay the publication costs of its newspaper, even though it paid the costs of printing other student publications, violated the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. The university had convinced the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that it had a compelling interest in not funding the newspaper: specifically, to avoid violating the Constitution's Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from establishing, or promoting, religion. Before the U.S. Supreme Court, the university backed off on this argument and instead stated that it had a right to be selective in its choice of recipients of public funds (i.e. university student fees). The Court considered both arguments and found that the university's policy regarding the distribution of monies from student fees was neutral, that is, that it could not be seen as a policy designed to advance religion; the Court therefore concluded that the free speech rights of the student publication prevailed and ordered the university to pay the publication costs of the Christian student group's newspaper.

Termination of Employment Claims

Colleges and universities have often been the subject of lawsuits by former employees who have been terminated. Many of these claims arise when an institution refuses to grant tenure to a faculty member. In most educational institutions, teachers and other faculty members are not guaranteed permanent employment when they are hired for a teaching position. The institution generally requires the teacher or professor to achieve certain goals, such as publishing scholarly articles or demonstrating superior teaching skills, within a prescribed period of time, often six to eight years. In state institutions, the process for granting tenure is usually prescribed by statute.

At the conclusion of this time period, an institution reviews the performances of the teacher, professor, or other employee. If the review is favorable, the institution may award tenure to the employee. Although tenure does not necessarily guarantee lifetime employment, it provides considerable protection for the employee from being terminated by the institution. On the other hand, if the employee is denied tenure, he or she will not be retained as an employee of the institution.

More often than not, disgruntled former employees lose their cases when they contest denial of tenure. Many contest the tenure process, while others claim breach of contract on the part of the institution. Additionally, several courts have had to consider whether a college or university has violated the constitutional rights of an employee by denying him or her tenure. For example, in Hendrich v. Board of Regents of University of Wisconsin System, 274 F.3d 1174 (7th Cir. 2001), the complainant claimed that the University of Wisconsin atwhitewater had violated her equal protection and due process rights when the school denied her tenure. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit denied her claims, finding that she had failed to meet the necessary burden of persuasion on these issues.

further readings

Census Bureau. Statistical Abstract of the United States. Available online at <> (accessed November 11, 2003).

Eisenberg, Theodore. 1996. Civil Rights Legislation: Cases and Materials. 4th ed. Charlottesville, Va. Michie.

Giamatti, A. Bartlett. 1988. A Free and Ordered Space: The Real World of the University. New York: Norton.

Grossman, Joel B., and Richard S. Wells. 1988. Constitutional Law and Judicial Policy Making. 3d ed. White Plains, N.Y.: Longman.

Journal of College and University Law. Various issues.

Kaplin, William A., and Barbara A. Lee. 1997. Legal Guide for Student Affairs Professionals. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

——. 1995. Law of Higher Education. 3d ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.


Religion; School Desegregation; Schools and School Districts.


views updated May 29 2018


The half century after 1820 was the heyday of the classical college in American higher education. It was also characterized by the proliferation of denominational colleges. Both these developments took shape in the 1820s.

Although instruction in Latin (primarily) and Greek had been the core of the curriculum for the colonial colleges, standards had deteriorated by 1800. Latin ceased to be the language of instruction, and the dominance of the ancients was vigorously challenged as undemocratic in the early Republic. However, experiments with modern languages such as French and Italian invariably failed, and the classical pedagogy—the teaching of Latin and Greek—was gradually rehabilitated, with considerably greater emphasis on Greek. This refurbished course of study was emphatically defended by Yale College against proponents of more modern or practical subjects. The Yale College Reports of 1828 defined the aims and methods of the classical college, which became the standard across American colleges.

Denominational colleges also became entrenched during the 1820s, as minority religious groups reacted against existing, often state-sanctioned colleges, most often dominated by dogmatic Presbyterians. As states relaxed barriers to chartering colleges, each denomination or splinter defensively founded colleges to educate its own flocks. The classical course and denominational sponsorship, however, convey little of the nature of college education. The ancient languages were but one component of the collegiate experience. And as ministerial preparation was confined to theological seminaries, the standard classical course was basically secular, even if offered in a Christian ambiance. Moreover although denominational colleges multiplied everywhere, collegiate education developed distinct regional traditions. In the East the original colonial colleges spearheaded an academic development that introduced more subjects and more learned teachers. In the South, led by North and South Carolina and Virginia, state-sponsored universities became the dominant institutions. And beyond the Appalachians—the West for all practical purposes—denominational colleges sprouted in the wake of the advancing frontier.

This pattern was altered appreciably after 1850 without dislodging the hegemony of the classical course. Now the leading institutions of the East added schools of science and graduate study to accommodate the growth of knowledge. The western colleges sought to include more kinds of instruction for a broader clientele, including women, thus becoming "multipurpose colleges." In the South, however, innovation was largely smothered by the catastrophe of the Civil War. The years from 1820 to 1870 thus form a coherent era when the classical college was the characteristic form of American higher education.


Student learning took place through recitations, lectures, written and oral exercises, and activities outside the curriculum. The classical college is best known for the first of these, the unfortunate recitations, easily the most stultifying element. Students typically "recited" on three subjects per term, five or six days per week. Latin and Greek were standard for the first three years. Mathematics was intermittently the third subject, with geography, philosophy, and science for upperclassmen interspersed as well. Students were expected to prepare the day's lesson immediately before the recitation. In class they merely recited the expected answers when called upon and were graded accordingly by the tutors. Tutors, or later instructors, conducted most recitations through the junior year, but professors taught the seniors. "Mental discipline," as extolled in the Yale Reports, may have been the only benefit of this regimen: the classical authors were read in disjointed excerpts, and the emphasis was on grammar not content; other subjects demanded chiefly rote memorization.

By the junior year not only did the recitation subjects become more interesting but students also attended lectures by the professors. Most science was taught this way during the junior and senior years. The number and variety of lectures depended on the resources of the college—the number of professors and their areas of competence—and thus varied far more than recitations across institutions.

The classical college placed considerable emphasis on writing and speaking, and here students seemed to recognize the importance of developing such skills. Writing exercises were usually based on classical subjects. Sophomores and juniors typically gave "declamations"—histrionic speeches based on classical models; and juniors and seniors engaged in stylized disputations. The most adept students were rewarded with parts in the commencement ceremonies—the culmination of the college experience.

Perhaps the greatest psychological impact of the classical college resulted from its structure rather than the academic course. Each class went through the course of study as a unit, taking the same subjects and participating in the same activities for four years. This in itself engendered strong bonds, but the cumulative effect was more powerful still. The freshman year was something like boot camp, where "newies" were ridiculed and persecuted, especially by the sophomores. The latter, having learned the ropes, became for that year the most rowdy of the classes. Juniors faced the heaviest academic load and behaved somewhat more maturely, in part to distinguish themselves from the overbearing sophomores. "Dignity" is the term most often applied by contemporaries to seniors, who assumed increasing aloofness from the ruckus of campus life as they focused their efforts on elaborate preparations for commencement. Thus despite its shortcomings, the classical college instilled a deep sense of camaraderie, accomplishment, loyalty, and maturity in its graduates. This picture of the classical college best fits institutions in the Northeast and a few southern universities, but elsewhere smaller and poorer denominational colleges largely sought to emulate this model.


"Literature" in the early nineteenth century was an inclusive term, not in the least confined to imaginative writings. Samuel Miller in his compendium A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century (1803) devoted a long section to the contributions to the Republic of letters by the United States, a nation "lately become Literary" (2:330–410). By literary he meant virtually all types of writing for an educated audience—philosophy, history, biography, romances and novels, poetry, drama, and the kind of essays that filled literary and political journals. He included colleges in his discussion of literary institutions, and indeed, they were often called "literary seminaries" in this era, chiefly for their association with classical literature, rhetoric, and philosophy but not for any connection with modern literature.

Efforts to secure a place in the curriculum for literature in modern languages were few and far from successful before 1870. The teaching of modern languages was a dismal failure, eventually farmed out to private instructors. In addition, the Yale Reports emphatically held that modern languages were inferior to Greek and Latin for instilling mental discipline. Hence, an underlying enthusiasm for literature, broadly construed, was channeled to other outlets.

One early-nineteenth-century attempt to constitute the republic of letters in America was the Anthology Society in Boston, a group of professionals and would-be intellectuals who met regularly and published a monthly review. One Anthology stalwart, John Kirkland (1770–1840), became president of Harvard (1810–1828); a younger recruit, George Ticknor (1791–1871), resolved to become a man of letters. In 1815 Ticknor embarked for Germany to imbibe true scholarship, and the following year Kirkland offered him the first endowed professorship in modern languages at an American college. Ticknor's travails at Harvard illustrate the obstacles facing literature. He chafed under the rigid protocol of the classical college and sought in vain to reform it. He succeeded only in his own domain. He organized the department of modern languages on the basis of proficiency instead of classes, and himself delivered lectures on the history of Spanish literature. When Ticknor retired in 1835 to become an independent man of letters, the Smith Professorship of Modern Languages was filled first by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (who held the post in 1835–1854) and then by James Russell Lowell (1855–1886), making it a distinguished but isolated outpost for literature in the colleges.

Pioneering attempts to teach English literature lacked such continuity. James Marsh (1794–1842), one of the boldest reformers of the 1820s as president of the University of Vermont (1826–1833), attempted to include English in a new-model curriculum. Only in the late 1830s did it appear to have been taught as lectures to juniors, and this practice was intermittently continued. Also in the 1830s, Henry Reed (1808–1854) was appointed professor of English literature at the University of Pennsylvania (1835–1854). Both Marsh and Reed contributed to literary studies. Marsh introduced Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Aids to Reflection (1829), which was influential in U.S. literature, to American readers. Reed's collected lectures constitute an impressive body of criticism, although they were only published posthumously (1855). Reed also developed a direct relationship with English letters, befriending and serving as the American agent for William Wordsworth.

If a single theme links Ticknor, Marsh, and Reed it would be Romantic nationalism. These doctrines gave literature a special significance of manifesting the unconscious mind of a people or race. Reed was particularly aggressive in his interpretation of Anglo-Saxonism, and Ticknor leaned heavily on national character to explain French and Spanish literature. Due to such racial roots, Marsh and Reed saw the study of English literature as a fundamentally moral subject that should be taught to collegians in order to connect them with their heritage.

This Romantic impulse seems to have waned after Reed's ship sunk on a return voyage from England in 1854. Instead, the next generation found in philology—historical and comparative linguistics—the justification for studying English in the college course. Philology traces its roots to Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) and German Romanticism, but it found its way into the college classroom by imitating the classical languages. Francis A. March (1825–1911), who began teaching English at Lafayette College in 1855, set an example by teaching his subject as Greek was taught; that is, giving minute attention to grammar, etymology, and linguistic history but neglecting the meaning of literary works themselves. The transposing of the philological approach to English literature implied a historical focus that seldom advanced beyond William Shakespeare or John Donne. It only reached college classrooms at the end of this era in the teaching of Moses Coit Tyler (1835–1900) at Michigan and Francis Child (1825–1896) at Harvard. Philology better characterizes the professionalization of the discipline after 1870.


In relation to questions of literature, students were left to pursue the interests and activities that most appealed to them on their own initiative. The image that students had of themselves was that of budding gentlemen, a role that implied the capacity to speak eloquently and knowingly on issues of the day and to be conversant with literature—again, broadly understood. But such things were only touched upon obliquely in junior or senior studies. Students needed to cultivate these qualities among themselves.

Their chief means for such self-improvement were the literary societies. These institutions were begun in the colonial colleges and persisted on some campuses into the twentieth century. However, the years of their greatest influence stretched from about 1815 to the Civil War, with the zenith for the Northeast in the 1830s. Although arrangements at each campus were unique, literary societies were a staple of the classical college, officially sanctioned by the institution. Most colleges had two societies, and often every student would belong to one or the other. Competition between the societies was fierce, but largely indirect. Each sought to outperform the other in recruitment, campus recognition, and awards. But the societies focused internally on the intellectual interests of their member students. Before the 1830s, literary societies were virtually the only approved outlet for extracurricular activities; but after that decade, the growth of other outlets, especially fraternities, eroded the campus influence of the societies, at least in the Northeast.

Literary societies were entirely run by students. Besides conducting long business meetings according to parliamentary procedures, their chief activities were to provide a forum for public speaking and to maintain a library. Public speaking included the delivery of orations and the reading of essays, all written by the students themselves, but greatest interest was on conducting formal debates. The debates were heavily focused on current affairs. They gave students the opportunity to express views on the pressing issues of the day, including slavery, tariffs, foreign policy, or preserving the Union. Literary or philosophical questions seem to have been addressed less frequently. However, literary interests were fulfilled instead through the libraries.

The building of library collections was a major effort of most literary societies from 1820 onward. Book purchases often accounted for a substantial part of their expenditures, and they also sought donations. The 1830s and 1840s were the peak for this endeavor in the Northeast, but activity in southern and western societies was unabated until the Civil War. By 1840 society libraries at the older colleges contained more books than the college libraries—and far more useful books as well. College libraries consisted largely of antiquated Latin or theological tomes, and they tended to be open only a few hours per week. The society libraries owned canonical authors and eighteenth-century English writers, but they also purchased contemporary literature. The most popular volumes were the Waverly Scottish border romance novels of Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832). The historian Thomas Harding notes that one society even debated "is the moral and literary influence of the Waverly novels beneficial?" (p. 77). James Fenimore Cooper (1789–1851) and Washington Irving (1783–1859) were the American writers most read, and Lord Byron (1788–1824) captured the imagination of collegians for some time. Overall, novels were the largest holding, although the libraries also had substantial collections of drama, poetry, biography, history, essays, and travel books. The more affluent societies maintained subscriptions to the major liter-ary journals of the United States and Great Britain (North American Review, Knickerbocker, Blackwood's Magazine, Edinburgh Review). Without doubt, the libraries were heavily used by students—for leisure reading and to gather material for writings and debates.

The literary societies filled a large lacuna in collegiate education and were so recognized by the colleges. A mirror image of the classroom, the societies were entirely student run, engaged with current affairs, and connected as well with contemporary literature. The societies thus tended to be linked with students' own literary enterprises.

The Yale Literary Magazine, founded in 1836, was the first continuous student publication. Previously at Yale and elsewhere, student attempts at literary publications appeared and disappeared, seldom achieving more than a few successive volumes. At Union College in Schenectady, New York, for example, some eleven publications were launched from 1807 to 1854 before the Unionian achieved some continuity (1854–1871). The second oldest college literary magazine, the Nassau Literary Magazine at Princeton, was begun in 1842. Most of the successful magazines were cooperative efforts between the rival literary societies, a model set by Yale. Their contributions seemed to oscillate between the aspirations of collegians to emulate popular essayists and the attraction of portraying aspects of college life. Since they were independently financed, reader interest seems to have pulled them toward the latter subjects.

The popularity of student literary magazines spread rapidly after 1850 and was only dampened temporarily by the Civil War. One of the most ambitious undertakings, however, was a casualty of the war. In 1859 the University Quarterly (originally called the Undergraduate) was organized at Yale as a compendium of writings by collegians and professional students throughout the country, and a few studying in Europe. By 1861 it was receiving contributions from "associations" at twenty-eight colleges, mostly in New England, but at least five from the Midwest. The Quarterly published four fat issues of essays and campus news reports in 1860 and in 1861 before contributions evaporated with the war. In even so brief a history, the Quarterly is testimony to the widespread literary impulse of collegians. Not surprisingly, the impulse revived all the stronger after the war. The 1869 Yale graduate Lyman Bagg estimated that by 1870 more than fifty colleges had regular student publications.


Given the intense student enthusiasm for literature in the classical colleges, how did the colleges affect American literature? The question might be answered in different ways. If one were able to chart the careers of collegiate literati, many would be found who became men of letters in nineteenth-century terms and were recognized as such by contemporaries. For example, consider the three young men most responsible for sustaining the Nassau Lit in the 1840s: Theodore L. Cuyler, George H. Boker, and Charles G. Leland. Unknown and unread in the early twenty-first century, Cuyler was a prolific author of books and articles on spiritual themes; Boker wrote two volumes of poems and eleven plays; and Leland wrote widely in a number of areas but became best known for German-dialect ballads. For these writers, and no doubt many others, there was continuity between literary activities in college and subsequent literary pursuits.

The picture changes, however, if one considers the most widely read and enduring American authors. For these figures two patterns stand out: either college had little or no apparent effect on their writings or they are associated with the Harvard-Cambridge milieu. In the first group, Herman Melville, John Greenleaf Whittier, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, and (much earlier) Washington Irving never attended college. William Cullen Bryant spent one year at Williams, and a young James Fenimore Cooper lasted almost two at Yale before being expelled. In the South, Henry Timrod attended the University of Georgia for a single year, and Edgar Allan Poe did the same at the University of Virginia. Timrod and Poe apparently valued their studies and would have attended longer but for financial constraints. One might add Emily Dickinson, who endured one year of evangelical pressure with the founder Mary Lyon at Mount Holyoke. It would be difficult to generalize from these idiosyncratic talents; but the remarkable fact is the absence of literary talents graduating from all the other classical colleges. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne are only partial exceptions. They graduated from Bowdoin in the same class (1828), but both fell into the Harvard-Cambridge orbit—Longfellow as a professor and Hawthorne as a resident of nearby Concord.

In contrast, Harvard graduates form a literary pantheon. Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau promoted transcendentalism from Concord. Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and later Henry Adams first distinguished themselves as students. Horatio Alger Jr. was a Harvard graduate (1852), although he wrote his famous rags-to-riches novels after the Civil War. If one lowers the bar somewhat, there are more literary Harvardians like Richard Henry Dana Jr. and Edward Everett Hale. Moreover, judging from their biographies, all these writers seem to have been shaped to some extent by their Harvard experiences, despite its faults. The rigorous writing instruction of longtime rhetoric professor Edward Tyrell Channing has been widely noted. Lowell, although rusticated (sent to the country) his senior year, edited a student literary magazine and was elected class poet. Henry Adams, who claimed in his 1918 The Education of Henry Adams that his Harvard education had been worthless, made an exception for his interaction with Professor Lowell; furthermore, he was elected class orator—the highest honor a class could bestow. Clearly Harvard sustained an elevated and sophisticated literary culture. The ambient culture of Boston-Cambridge-Concord was certainly one factor. Another might well be the prevalence of Unitarianism rather than the evangelical Protestantism that prevailed at most other colleges. Also, the presence of Ticknor, Longfellow, and Lowell as Smith Professors of Modern Languages at Harvard recurs as a vital influence.

As a tentative conclusion, it seems that the literary activities of classical colleges tended for the most part to promote the kind of superficial eloquence that flourished in mid- and late-nineteenth-century America. Students, for all their enthusiasm, seldom transcended the conventional taste and thinking of their contemporaries. Harvard did somewhat better through closer contact with European thought, by harboring the nation's largest faculty and by mixing with a rich local culture; that is, Harvard promoted enduring contributions to American literature in spite of clinging to the conventions of a classical college until the end of this era.

See alsoClassical Literature; Curricula; Education; English Literature; Fireside Poets; Religion; Rhetoric


Primary Works

Adams, Henry. The Education of Henry Adams: AnAutobiography. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1918.

Bagg, Lyman. Four Years at Yale: By a Graduate of '69. New Haven, Conn.: Chatfield, 1871.

Looney, J. Jefferson, ed. College as It Is; or, The Collegian'sManual in 1853. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Libraries, 1996.

Miller, Samuel. A Brief Retrospect of the Eighteenth Century. 2 vols. New York: T. and J. Swords, 1803.

Yale College. Reports on the Course of Instruction in Yale College. New Haven, Conn.: Howe, 1828.

Secondary Works

Geiger, Roger L. "The Reformation of the Colleges in the Early Republic, 1800–1820." History of Universities 16, no. 2 (2001): 129–182.

Geiger, Roger L., ed. The American College in theNineteenth Century. Nashville, Tenn.: Vanderbilt University Press, 2000.

Graff, Gerald. Professing Literature: An Institutional History. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Harding, Thomas S. College Literary Societies: TheirContribution to Higher Education in the United States, 1815–1876. New York: Pageant Press, 1971.

Schrum, Ethan D. "Henry Reed and the Development of English Studies in Antebellum American Higher Education." Ms. in progress, University of Pennsylvania.

Turner, James. Language, Religion, Knowledge: Past andPresent. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003.

Tyack, David. George Ticknor and the Boston Brahmins. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1967.

Roger L. Geiger


views updated May 14 2018



Background. In colonial America as in Europe, colleges were the primary institutions of higher learning. Their establishment in America was yet another manifestation of the European commitment to preserve Western culture despite the challenges of the wilderness and its savage inhabitants. In Spanish America and New France the Catholic Church led the way in establishing colleges, whose first priority was propagating the faith among both Indians and colonists. The religious motive was also dominant in the founding of Protestant colleges in British North America. Throughout the colonial era Latin and Greek classics dominated the curricula of American colleges. However, under the impact of Enlightenment thought, advances in mathematics and the natural sciences began to make their way into the college curriculum in the later eighteenth century.

Spanish, Dutch, and French. Although learned laymen as well as clergy settled in the Spanish borderlands, no college was established there in the colonial era. From Florida, children of the elite attended college in Santo Domingo or Mexico City, and those from the provinces of New Mexico and Texas went to Mexico City. It should be emphasized that the universities at Mexico City and Lima, both established in 1551, were by 1700 thriving institutions that rivaled the leading Catholic

universities in Europe. Returning to Spain for their college education was another option that some chose. New Netherland did not have a college, but several young men from the Dutch colony attended Harvard, and others returned to the Netherlands for their education. In New France the Jesuits founded a college in Quebec in 1635, though a genuine college curriculum was not instituted there until the 1660s. By 1712 the college was judged as good and perhaps better than Jesuit colleges in France and possessed the same standardized curriculum. There were five Latin classes, one each of rhetoric and humanity and three in grammar. Some history and geography were included in the grammar and rhetoric classes; science was taught along with philosophy, and the theories of Galileo, René Descartes, Blaise Pascal, and Sir Isaac Newton were explored in mathematics and physics. The course of study in letters at the College of Quebec usually took five years or more, and the science curriculum took three years. Students also studied drama and presented plays, including Le Cid in 1652 and Jean Racines Mithri-date in 1694. The College of Quebec, like other Jesuit colleges, did not award degrees, but students completing their studies regularly engaged in public disputation. Among those educated at the College of Quebec was Louis Jolliet, later famous for his explorations of the Mississippi River, who in 1666 argued his thesis in Latin before the leading figures of the province.

Early British Efforts. As early as 1622, plans were afoot and money had been collected in England for the founding of Henrico College in Virginia. The Indian uprising of that year and the subsequent takeover of the colony by the Crown in 1625 put an end to the project. The Puritans in New England were more successful in establishing colleges. In 1633 Reverend John Eliot called for the founding of a college in Massachusetts Bay. Eliot warned that if we norish not Larning both church & common wealth will sinke. In 1636 the provincial legislature agreed, allocating some £400, and college instruction began in Cambridge in 1638. That same year John Harvard, a preacher and recent immigrant, died and left £780 and his library of four hundred volumes to the college, which took his name. According to a promotional pamphlet published in 1642, the purpose of Harvard College was to advance Learning and perpetuate it to Posterity; dreading to leave an illiterate Ministry to the Churches, when our present Ministers shall lie in the Dust. Its charter of 1650 added another objective: the education of Indian youth. Money was collected in England for John Eliots missionary efforts among the Indians, and President Henry Dunster used some to pay for the building called the Indian College. However, few Indians ever attended Harvard, and only one, Caleb Cheeshahteaumuch, ever graduated. In fact, Harvard College, like the Puritan vision of a City Upon a Hill, had little to do with the Indians.

Harvard College: Structure. The Massachusetts Bay legislature put Harvard under the supervision of a board of overseers made up of local civil and ecclesiastical leaders. In 1650 the legislature granted Harvard a charter creating a corporation made up of the president and fellows and empowering it to grant degrees, which it had been doing without any official sanction since 1642. Thereafter, the overseers and corporation jointly governed Harvard. Its structure and curriculum were modeled after Emmanuel College, a fairly young foundation which had become a stronghold of Puritan influence at Cambridge University. Emmanuel and the other colleges at Cambridge and Oxford were rather small, including from twenty to fifty students, a president, two or three tutors, and a few servants. In 1638 Nathaniel Eaton, who had studied under the famed Puritan theologian William Ames, was appointed professor and charged with leading Harvard, which began with nine or ten students. After many complaints Ames was removed in late 1639 for mistreating the students. His successor, Henry Dunster, who had studied at Magdalene College, Oxford, served Harvard until 1655 as professor and president.

Curriculum. The three-year curriculum that Henry Dunster instituted at Harvard reflected four influences that were shaping higher learning in Europe: the seven liberal arts (grammar, rhetoric, logic, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy, and music), taught from Latin texts; Aristotelian philosophy, rediscovered in the later Middle Ages and transmitted in classes on ethics, politics, physics, and metaphysics; humanistic learning from the Renaissance, emphasizing the Latin classics of Cicero and Virgil and knowledge of Greek and other eastern languages; and the Reformation ideal that liberal learning should be devoted to explaining the religious doctrines of the Puritan faith. Dunster initially conducted all the classes six days a week. In later years a tutor would be assigned an entering class and teach all the courses for that class as it moved through one sequence after another toward graduation. Dunsters successor, Charles Chauncy, who served from 1654 to 1672, added another year of study at the freshman level, which dropped the median age at entry to between fifteen or sixteen, the basic requirement for admission being a solid background in the Latin language.

William and Mary. The prime mover behind the establishment of the second college in British North America was the Reverend James Blair, commissary of the Church of England in Virginia. Appointed by the bishop of London to supervise ecclesiastical affairs in the tobacco colony, Blair had powerful friends in England who helped him secure a royal charter in 1693 and raise funds for the proposed college. According to its charter William and Mary was founded for three reasons: to train ministerial candidates for the Anglican ministry, to educate Virginia youth, and to convert the Indians. The latter objective may well have been disingenuous, calculated to capture a share of the scientist Robert Boyles estate dedicated to Christianizing the Indians. Some Indians did attend the college, now and again, but the Boyle legacy was used primarily for the Brafferton Building and library books. Under the 1693 charter William and Mary was governed by a self-perpetuating board of eighteen members; its president until 1743 was James Blair. The charter also called for the creation of four schools (sacred theology, philosophy, Greek and Latin, and Indian instruction) with six professors. After some fits and starts, William and Mary became fully functional in the 1720s and followed the design of the charter until after the American Revolution.


*Governors, councilors, judges, deputies, and permanent officials.
**Died in college or within five years of graduating.
***Most of these individuals are nongraduates before 1663.
Source: Lawrence A. Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experience 1607-1783 (New York: Harper & Row, 1970), p. 221. I
I Physicians1211427
Public Servants131712
I Merchants36110
Soldiers, Mariners0145
I Miscellaneous2305
Died Young**1151127

Yale. In 1701 Harvard alumni became concerned that their alma mater had strayed from Puritan orthodoxy and wanted to found another college in southern New England. Fewer Harvard graduates were going into the ministry, and the proposed Connecticut college was expected to revive both piety and orthodoxy among New England youth. The new college was a modest affair at first, meeting in the home of its president, Abraham Pierson, for five years and moving among several towns for the next thirteen. By 1720 the college had built a permanent building at New Haven, taken the name of its most generous benefactor, Elihu Yale, a director of the East India Company, and had received the eight hundred volumes purchased by Connecticuts English agent, Jeremiah Dummer. The Dummer collection included books by John Locke, Sir Isaac Newton, René Descartes, Robert Boyle, John Milton, and more-recent writers, both clerical and lay. Despite its devotion to Puritan orthodoxy, Yale had a library that included the chief works of the European Enlightenment, and that library, especially the works of Locke and Newton, encouraged two young tutors, Samuel Johnson and Daniel Browne, to reject Congregational orthodoxy and turn to the Church of England in 1722. The apostasy scandal grew worse when

Yales rector, Timothy Cutler, like Browne and Johnson, was found guilty of Arminianism and prelatical corruptions. They were all summarily dismissed. However, the books remained, and others detailing rationalism and the scientific method would be added to the collection. Others, including conservative clerics such as Jonathan Edwards, read and had to come to terms with them.

Later Schools. After the establishment of Yale in 1701 demographic and economic expansion and shifting religious and intellectual currents brought forth the founding of six additional colleges in British North America. During the late 1730s and early 1740s the leadership of both Harvard and Yale opposed the revivalism of the Great Awakening. In response evangelical Presbyterians, breaking with the more conservative Synod of Pennsylvania and organizing the Synod of New York, founded the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) in 1745. Its first president was the Reverend Jonathan Dickinson, followed by the Reverend Aaron Burr, a Yale graduate, during whose ten-year tenure the college became housed in the Nassau Building at Princeton. In Pennsylvania and New York civic pride and the mercantile spirit led to the founding of colleges. In Philadelphia Benjamin Franklin organized the movement that led to the Philadelphia Academy in 1753 and which became the College of Philadelphia two years later. After a decade of discussion and two years of intense controversy, Kings College (later Columbia University) was chartered in New York City in 1756. Under the presidency of the Reverend William Smith, the College of Philadelphia became identified with the Church of England. From the beginning, Anglican influence was dominant at Kings College, where Samuel Johnson, one of the 1722 Yale apostates, became the first president. Evangelicals were also behind three more colleges: in 1765 the Baptists founded the College of Rhode Island (later Brown University); the Dutch Reformed Church obtained a charter in 1766 from New Jersey for Queens College (later Rutgers University); and the Reverend Eleazar Wheelock, a Congregational minister, founded Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1770.

Curriculum. Although Latin and Greek classics remained at its heart, the eighteenth century brought changes to the traditional college curriculum. Among the thousands of Scotch-Irish immigrants to America were graduates of Scottish universities, which were among the leading centers of Enlightenment learning. They also led in pedagogical reforms such as offering instruction in English instead of Latin, having professors specialize in just one discipline instead of teaching all subjects, and utilizing demonstration and modern methods in teaching the sciences. Some of these innovations were applied in British North America, first in the academies run by Presbyterian preachers and later in the evangelical colleges. Lockes writing on education and psychology, no less than Newtons insights into mathematics and physics, were influencing the curricula of colleges both old and new. Americans such as Benjamin Franklin campaigned aggressively for a more practical education in both academy and college. Franklins College of Philadelphia had perhaps the most modern curriculum of any American college, rivaled closely by Kings College in New York, where William Livingston and other opponents of an Anglican establishment argued for a nonsectarian institution of higher learning. Despite their Anglican leanings, neither the College of Philadelphia nor Kings College advertised itself as a divinity school. Instead each touted its broad plan of instruction, including the classical languages, grammar, rhetoric, logic, and mathematics as well as surveying, navigation, geography, history, husbandry, commerce, and government. Kings College claimed its curriculum offered everything useful for the comfort, the convenience and elegance of life, in the chief manufacturers relating to any of these things. Such extravagant claims aside, the college curriculum was becoming more secular, scientific, and concerned with nurturing leaders in the professions.


James Axtell, The School upon a Hill: Education and Society in Colonial New England (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974);

Lawrence A. Cremin, American Education: The Colonial Experience, 1607-1783 (New York: Harper & Row, 1970);

Mario Gongora, Studies in the Colonial History of Spanish America, translated by Richard Southern (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975);

Jurgen Herbst, The First Three American Colleges: Schools of the Reformation, Perspectives in American History,8 (1974): 7-52;

David C. Humphrey, From Kings College to Columbia, 1746-1800 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976);

Howard Miller, The Revolutionary College: American Presbyterian Higher Education: 1707-1837 (New York: New York University Press, 1976);

Samuel E. Morison, The Founding of Harvard College (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1935);

David W. Robson, Educating Republicans: The College in the Era of the American Revolution, 1750-1800 (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1985);

Douglas Sloan, The Scottish Enlightenment and the American College Ideal (New York: Teachers College Press of Columbia University, 1971);

Thomas J. Wertenbaker, Princeton, 1746-1896 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1946).

Colleges and Universities

views updated May 17 2018

Colleges and Universities

Colleges and universities in the new American nation were established slowly and deliberately until the American Revolution, at which point establishments ceased for a decade and then resumed in increasing numbers through the 1820s. During this period, these institutions were substantially devoted to imparting "liberal education," with the purpose of forming leaders and citizens for colonial and then republican society. The functions of advancing knowledge and providing graduate or professional education, commonly associated with higher education from the late nineteenth century onward, were not adopted by colleges in the new American nation, apart from informal or ancillary modes, the medical school at the College of Philadelphia being one possible exception. Even taking that into account, there were no "universities" in the new nation as that term would later be understood.

Until the middle of the eighteenth century, just three colleges had been founded in the colonies, and their religious character reflected the fierce sectarian divisions that had arisen in Europe during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and engulfed its universities and colleges. In Massachusetts, the Puritans—who became Congregationalists—founded Harvard College (1636); in Virginia, the Anglicans established the College of William and Mary (1693); in Connecticut, Congregationalists who leaned toward Presbyterianism founded Yale College (1701). Thus, the significant role of higher education in defining religious orthodoxy—and the concomitant battles among the Christian sects for control—was extended to the earliest colonial colleges and continued in the colleges established before the American Revolution.

At the same time, another significant and related characteristic of institutional governance was extended from Europe to the colonial colleges. These

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colleges combined the degree-granting authority of the European universities with the governance model of the European colleges and halls, which had originated as safe domiciles for young students living far from home. The latter, being governed by nonresident trustees who were usually clergymen or men of affairs, became more responsive to the public (and religious) purposes represented by the nonresident trustees than were the universities, being governed by the teaching masters.

In the American colonies, this collegiate form of governance was coupled with the power to grant degrees and became the normative model of organization in American higher education. As a result, the colonial colleges were profoundly shaped by not only religious but also public purposes. In fact, the colonial colleges commonly regarded today as exemplary private institutions were, in this early period, regarded as virtually public institutions, being sponsored and, to some extent, funded by the colonial governments. Hence, the general pattern resulted that the nine colleges established before the American Revolution were, with the exception of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, founded one to a colony in conjunction with the established or predominant Protestant sect in the colony. This general correlation among colony, sect, and college reduced competition for public funds and, to some extent, sectarian bickering, at least within the college itself.

In New York the Anglicans fought off the Presbyterians to establish tenuous control over King's College, later Columbia, in the early years after its founding in 1754. In pluralistic Pennsylvania an alliance of Presbyterians and Anglicans dominated the future University of Pennsylvania from its chartering in 1755. New Jersey was a partial exception to the pattern in as much as the dominant Presbyterians split their efforts between the College of New Jersey (1746), later Princeton, founded by English and Scottish Presbyterians, and Queen's College (1766), later Rutgers, founded by Dutch Reformed Presbyterians. Yet both groups shared virtually the same doctrine, and the colleges nearly merged in 1793. In anomalous Rhode Island the Baptists founded the future

Colleges and Universities Chartered to Grant Degrees before 1820
Current Name of InstitutionYear Opened for Collegiate InstructionPermanent Location as of 1820
Harvard University1638Cambridge, MA
College of William and Mary1694Williamsburg, VA
Yale University1702New Haven, CT
Princeton University1747Princeton, NJ
Columbia University1754New York, NY
University of Pennsylvania1755Philadelphia, PA
Brown University1765Providence, RI
Dartmouth College1769Hanover, NH
Rutgers, The State University1771New Brunswick, NJ
Washington and Lee University1782Lexington, VA
Hampden-Sydney College1783Hampden-Sydney, VA
Dickinson College1784Carlisle, PA
Mount Sion College1785Winnsborough, SC
College of Cambridge (SC)(1785)Never opened for instruction.
Franklin and Marshall College1787Lancaster, PA
Transylvania University1789Lexington, KY
St. John's College1789Annapolis, MD
College of Charleston1789Charleston, SC
Williams College1793Williamstown, MA
Cokesbury College (MD)1794No longer operating.
University of North Carolina1795Chapel Hill, NC
Union University1795Schenectady, NY
Washington College Academy1795Limestown, TN
College of Beaufort (SC)(1795)Never opened for instruction.
Alexandria College (SC)(1797)Never opened for instruction.
University of Vermont1799Burlington, VT
Middlebury College1800Middlebury, VT
University of Georgia1801Athens, GA
Bowdoin College1802Brunswick, ME
Jefferson College1802Washington, PA
Washington College1806Merged in 1865.
Baltimore College1804Baltimore, MD. Merged in 1830.
Tusculum College1805Greenville, TN
University of South Carolina1805Columbia, SC
St. Mary's Seminary and University1805Baltimore, MD
University of Orleans and College of New Orleans (LA)(1805)Never opened for instruction.
George Peabody College for Teachers1806Nashville, TN
University of Maryland1807Baltimore, MD. Granted first B.A. degree in 1859.
Ohio University1808Athens, OH
Hamilton College1812Clinton, NY
Georgetown University1815Washington, DC
Allegheny College1817Meadville, PA
Miami University1818Oxford, OH
Asbury College1818Baltimore, MD
Colby College1818Waterville, ME
University of Cincinnati1819Cincinnati, OH
University of Pittsburgh1819Pittsburgh, PA
University of Tennessee1820Knoxville, TN
Centre College1820Danville, KY
University of Virginia1825Charlottesville, VA
Worthington College1820sOH

Brown University (1765), and in the northern colony of New Hampshire the Congregationalists established Dartmouth (1769). Notwithstanding this cooperative pattern among colony, sect, and college, these foundings were rarely harmonious and were often fraught with disputes among religious parties and between the colonial government and clerical leaders.

debate over liberal education

Stemming from these conflicts, the nature of liberal education at the colonial colleges became a matter of dispute as well. Until the middle of the eighteenth century, the content and nature of liberal arts at Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary largely conformed to the accommodation, inherited directly from Europe, between the scholastic "liberal arts" (artes liberales) at the universities and the "humanistic studies" (studia humanitatis) that had emerged over the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This early colonial program comprised studies in grammar, rhetoric, logic, history, ethics, and metaphysics, with a smattering of mathematics, astronomy, and geography. Most of the subject matter was drawn from Greek or Latin texts and taught by recitations—oral, catechetical quizzing conducted in class.

While this accommodation constituted the bulk of liberal education throughout this period, modifications of this formal program began to appear in the third quarter of the eighteenth century and then to grow in the 1790s and subsequent decades. On the one hand, the modifications concerned whether and how far "modern" authors could be incorporated into the formal curriculum. Such authors included Isaac Newton (1642–1727) in natural science, William Shakespeare (1564–1616) and John Milton (1608–1674) in literature, and Joseph Addison (1672–1719) in rhetoric. Princeton led the efforts to make these modifications during the third quarter of the eighteenth century, but even there the changes were largely marginalized and did not yet breach the dikes built by traditional practice around the formal curriculum.

On the other hand, the modifications were devoted to building what was reflected in the title of a pamphlet written in 1765 by Joseph Priestley, A Course of Liberal Education for Civil and Active Life. Over the subsequent decades, as the essay was republished and eventually appeared in an American edition in 1803, there were increasing calls to incorporate the useful study of sciences, modern languages, and social and political subjects appropriate for citizens of a republic. Priestley emigrated to the United States in 1794 and settled near Philadelphia, where he was offered, but declined, a chair in chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania, the other early institution associated with efforts to broaden the traditional liberal education. Even there, however, these reforming efforts were blunted by the established faculty, and associations outside of the colleges and universities led the effort for reform. Thus, in Philadelphia in 1796, the American Philosophical Society held an essay contest for writings describing "the best system of liberal education and literary instruction, adapted to the genius of the government of the United States" (Essays on Education in the Early Republic, p. xv).

Despite the perceived impracticality of the formal curriculum, students graduated from the colleges and entered a variety of vocational fields, particularly those of the "learned professions" of theology, law, and medicine, as well as teaching. Until 1700 more than half of the liberal arts graduates, all of whom attended Harvard, entered the ministry. At that point, the fraction dropped to a norm of about 40 percent, which held steady through 1750, and reflected graduates of only Harvard and Yale, since William and Mary had become moribund. During the 1750s, as more colleges opened for instruction, this percentage remained consistent and then slid to 30 percent by 1776. Meanwhile, the percentage entering medicine grew from about 5 percent at the beginning of the eighteenth century to about 15 percent by 1776. Law and commerce also saw their respective fraction of college graduates increase to that of medicine, about 15 percent, by 1776. Teaching at all levels consistently attracted about 5 percent of college graduates. These percentages did not vary significantly among the different colleges. After the American Revolution, the fraction of college graduates entering the ministry dropped steadily, while that entering law grew steadily, passing the clergy in about 1820. The fraction entering other fields generally remained consistent over the same period.

Meanwhile, the calls to modify the traditional substance and form of liberal education increased in volume and number in the early decades of the nineteenth century. But the changes made were minimal and largely confined to extracurricular literary and debating clubs and societies formed by the students. In 1828 the Yale president Jeremiah Day (1773–1867) and faculty issued a famous report in which they rebutted a proposal (made, predictably, by a member of the external board of trustees) "to leave out of said course the study of the dead languages, substituting other studies therefore" (Reports, p. 3). Even as it quoted the Roman writer Cicero (106–43 b.c.) in rebuttal, however, the Yale Reports also employed the language of Francis Bacon (1561–1626), the philosophical champion of the new empirical sciences. This rhetorical shift indicated that the prospect for substantial change in the formal curriculum was clearly on the horizon.

college foundings

Part of the reason for the intransigence and uniformity of the colleges was that the leaders of newly founded colleges had graduated from the eastern colleges and adopted the curriculum of their alma maters, if for no other reason than to legitimate their new foundations. For the early nineteenth century, the precise number of colleges is indeterminate because some were founded in name only, others were merely chartered, and still others began to offer instruction but closed soon thereafter. The table presented here, drawn largely from the research of historian Jurgen Herbst, includes virtually all colleges chartered by 1820 to grant degrees. The institutions are listed by the year in which they opened for collegiate instruction, which is a more salient, if elusive, criterion than the date of chartering. The institutions that never opened for instruction, as noted in the table, are listed by the date of their charter, and their charter date is included in parentheses. Some of the institutions opened earlier as academies that did not grant bachelor's degrees.

In surveying these colleges, the instruction they offered, and the vocations entered by their students, it is important to remember that they were all closed to women during this period. Even progressive observers such as Samuel Harrison Smith, winning essayist in the 1796 contest on liberal education sponsored by the American Philosophical Society, observed "that the great object of a liberal plan of education should be the almost universal diffusion of knowledge" (Smith, p. 189). By this qualification he referred to "female instruction," though hoping that it would be "marked by a rapid progress and that a prospect opens equal to their most ambitious desires" (Smith, p. 217). Tutored or self-taught women, who looked on from the outside, were not satisfied with this hope. Yet though they might call for the equivalent of a college education—as did Emma Willard in her Plan of Female Education (1818)—even these proposals did not through the 1820s entail the granting of a college degree.

See alsoProfessions .


[Day, Jeremiah.] Reports on the Course of Instruction in Yale College. New Haven, Conn.: Hezekiah Howe, 1828.

Herbst, Jurgen. From Crisis to Crisis: American College Government, 1636–1819. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982.

Humphrey, David C. From King's College to Columbia, 1746–1800. New York: Columbia University Press, 1976.

Kelley, Brooks Mather. Yale: A History. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1974.

Kimball, Bruce A. The "True Professional Ideal" in America: A History. Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1992.

Priestley, Joseph. "An Essay on a Course of Liberal Education for Civil and Active Life." In Lectures on History and General Policy. Edited by J. T. Rutt. London: Printed for Thomas Tegg, 1826.

Smith, Samuel Harrison. "Remarks on Education: Illustrating the Close Connection between Virtue and Wisdom. To Which Is Annexed a System of Liberal Education" (1797). In Essays on Education in the Early Republic. Edited by Frederick Rudolph. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1965.

Bruce A. Kimball


views updated May 18 2018

col·lege / ˈkälij/ • n. 1. an educational institution or establishment, in particular: ∎  one providing higher education or specialized professional or vocational training. ∎  (within a university) a school offering a general liberal arts curriculum leading only to a bachelor's degree. ∎  (in Britain) any of a number of independent institutions within certain universities, each having its own teaching staff, students, and buildings. ∎ Brit. a private secondary school: [in names] Eton College. ∎  the teaching staff and students of a college considered collectively. ∎  the buildings and campus of a college.2. an organized group of professional people with particular aims, duties, and privileges: [in names] the electoral college.


views updated May 17 2018

college society or corporation of persons having common functions and rights; building occupied by this. XIV. — (O) F. collège or its source L. collēgium association, partnership, corporation, f. collēga COLLEAGUE.
So collegial XIV, collegian XV, collegiate (-ATE 2) XV.


views updated May 21 2018

College ★★★½ 1927

A high school valedictorian tries out for every sport in college, hoping to win the girl. Vintage Keaton antics, including disaster as a soda jerk, an attempt to be a track star, and the pole vault through a window to rescue the damsel in distress. 60m/B VHS, DVD . Buster Keaton, Anne Cornwall, Harold Goodwin; D: James W. Horne; W: Brian Foy, Carl Harbaugh; C: Bert Haines; M: John Muri.


views updated May 23 2018


a body of colleagues or students; a collective body of a profession or religious order; a society of students or scholars. See also academy, institute.

Examples: college of bees, 1790; of canons; of cardinals; of clergy; of courtesans, 1621; of executioners, 1655; of hand-maidens, 1430; of heralds; of paradise, 1502; of scholars; of undergraduates.

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colleges and universities