Our recent article “The Benefits of Attending a Liberal Arts College” addressed liberal arts colleges most commonly associated with the United States. The American liberal arts college model is distinctive in its focus on undergraduate education, small class sizes, and a strong sense of community. However, did you know that you can pursue a liberal arts education fully taught in English outside of the U.S. ? Even at liberal arts colleges similar to the U.S.?
Studying Liberal Arts in Europe
While the American liberal arts college model may be unique in some respects, the concept of a broad-based, interdisciplinary education is not limited to the United States and can be found in various forms in countries around the world.
The easiest way to find a liberal arts education in Europe is enrolling at a branch campus of a U.S. university abroad, like Suffolk University or St. Louis University in Madrid or a private, independent U.S. college like The American University of Paris. They offer a liberal arts core curriculum. Often times you can start your Bachelor’s at a branch campus abroad and then finish your degree at the respective college in the United States. That’s especially convenient if you want to have a study experience in both countries and end up with a U.S. degree.
If you prefer to study in an anglophone country then Ireland or the UK might be an option for you. University College Dublin (Ireland) or University College London (UCL) in the UK offer study programs in the Liberal Arts and Sciences.
What About a Traditional Liberal Arts College Experience in Europe?
Attending a European university generally requires the student to decide on a specific major right from the start. That’s what is often called direct entry. Declaring a major in the second year as we know it from the USA is normally not possible. If you decide a certain degree program is not for you after all, it is often difficult if not impossible to switch majors. The few liberal arts colleges in Europe with a broader curriculm are therefore a welcome option especially for U.S. students desiring a more U.S. like education model.
Bard College Berlin, in Germany, was one of the first European Liberal Arts Colleges. It started out as European College of the Arts (ECLA) in 1999 and merged with Bard College in Annandale (US) in 2011 offering students the typical small residential campus, intimate class sizes with high-quality small-group teaching, and strong connections to professors. Students live on campus in dorms that are located near the university in the borough of Pankow in North-East Berlin. They will graduate with both a German BA and an American BA.
Liberal Arts Colleges in the Netherlands
The country in Europe that has most of the liberal arts college experiences as described above and also started one of the first, is the Netherlands. You can find 10 liberal arts colleges in the Netherlands. Each one is part of a well-know Dutch research university and includes some kind of residential component as part of the overall college and education experience. Liberal arts colleges in the Netherlands are small with a student body of about 200 to 900 students. They are considered honors colleges and students will graduate with either a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelors of Science (BSc) depending on the focus of their curriculum.
Many of the Dutch University Colleges have a special focus. Leiden University College The Hague (LUC The Hague) has a theme-based curriculum with a focus on four Global Challenges: Peace and Justice, Sustainability, Prosperity and Diversity, while other University Colleges might have a focus on engineering or the natural sciences.
What’s unique about pursuing a liberal arts undergraduate degree at a Dutch University College is that the progam, similar to a regular Bachelor’s degree at most European universities, has a three-year structure contrary to the four-year U.S. degrees!
Are you intrigued by the oppportunity to attend a liberal arts college in Europe? Let’s us know and we can help you find one that’s right for you.
Discuss your college options with us. Set up a 20-minute Discovery Call !
Make sure to sign up for our mailing list and receive updates, timely articles, and special offers for our college application programs.