FAQ: Hiram and the Liberal Arts

Is Hiram College a university?

In the U.S., the terms "college" and "university" are used interchangeably and always denote post-secondary institutions. Their degrees are equivalent and interchangeable. Colleges and universities can be public or private.  Private colleges like Hiram (1850) are among the oldest and most respected in the U.S.

The two types of institutions are distinguished by what they emphasize, not the quality of education. Colleges generally have smaller enrollments, focus primarily on undergraduate education, and employ faculty who are master teachers. Universities tend to have significantly larger enrollments and offer a wider array of undergraduate and graduate programs. Private institutions are funded by fees and contributions. Public institutions are funded primarily by state allocations, fees, and research grants and they may charge higher fees to students from outside of that state or the U.S. than they charge students who are in-state residents.
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Is Hiram College an approved university?

There is no central Ministry of Education in the U.S.  There are six regional accrediting bodies which employ a rigorous, complex system of monitored self-study to determine whether or not an institution is recognized. This recognition is called "accreditation." Additionally, there are professional bodies which recognize professional programs in selected fields such as chemistry, nursing, education and music.
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How is Hiram ranked?

Hiram College is one of the 200 oldest post-secondary institutions in the U.S. and is acknowledged nationally as a leading liberal arts college. Just as there is no central accrediting Ministry of Education in the U.S., there is no official governmental list which ranks post-secondary institutions. In the absence of such a list, various non-governmental organizations and agencies evaluate institutions on a wide variety of criteria and Hiram enjoys national recognition.
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What degrees does Hiram offer?

We are a four-year college of liberal arts and sciences that awards the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) for majors in the arts, natural sciences, humanities, and social sciences and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.). Hiram offers over 30 majors and pre-professional programs.

U.S. colleges and universities like Hiram generally award the bachelor degree. The two most common degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.). They are equally recognized as the foundation for admission to graduate study for the Master's (M.A. or M.S.) and the doctorate (Ph.D.) in any discipline, as well as to professional schools such as business, law, and medicine.
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What are the "liberal arts?"

The short answer is—liberal arts are the disciplines which develop students' problem-solving and critical thinking skills. They equip you intellectually to succeed in any career field, whereas a professional program equips you to succeed in one specific career field.

The longer answer is that colleges of liberal arts and sciences are among the country's oldest institutions of higher education and are distinctive to American tertiary education. Liberal arts degrees are university degrees—equivalent in every way for employment and entrance into graduate and professional schools.

The liberal arts encompass a broad base of courses in the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and arts. Emphasis on the development of critical thinking and communication skills – useful in any profession – are integrated across all disciplines. At Hiram, synthesizing knowledge across disciplines through interdisciplinary courses is one of the distinctive features of the curriculum. And within the liberal arts experience, each student has in-depth exposure to one academic subject through intense work in a field of study, called a major. Majors at Hiram require a senior seminar or research project suitable to the discipline. It synthesizes the knowledge acquired in the liberal arts and the major and serves as a capstone to the student's area of specialized focus.

A distinct advantage of a liberal arts education is the flexibility not found in other educational systems. For students who arrive on campus knowing the major they wish to pursue, coursework in their chosen field begins immediately. With careful planning, such students may add a secondary area of emphasis called a minor which can be completed within the four years. For students who arrive wanting to explore their options before making a final choice, there is ample opportunity to do this prior to year two, by which time most students will have determined their major. In any of these scenarios, the liberal arts make sense.

And Hiram's education doesn't teach you what to think, it teaches you how to think. It's not just theoretical and philosophical, but practical. It connects you directly to the real world and teaches students how to work, how to find work, and how to succeed at work.
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Are Hiram's classes right for me?

If you thrive in learning environments with small class sizes, personal attention, varied class formats and lots of hands-on learning, Hiram is a great choice. On the other hand, if your preference is for large lectures, standardized tests and a chance to fade into the crowd, Hiram may not be the best choice.
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How will my semester be organized?

Our academic calendar, with long (12-week) and short (3-week) sessions complementing each other, exposes you to learning formats best-suited for different subjects. Since not all classes are the same, why should they be taught using the same format? In the 12-week, you'll be able to cover a breadth of material, undertake major research projects, and make connections in material learned in concurrent classes. In the 3-week sessions, you'll enroll in one small, seminar-style course on a special topic where the focus might be field experience, study abroad, or research.
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Will I "fit in"?

That is something only you can determine. However, what we do know is that if you're a bright student, you'll want to surround yourself with intellectual peers. The majority of students in Hiram's entering classes score in the top 20 percent on national standardized testing and graduate in the top quarter of their secondary school classes.

The College is home to traditional students from 26 states and over 30 countries and there are over 80 students from overseas in our student body. Beyond saying that they are intelligent, friendly, and engaged, there is no "typical" student. Hiram students come from areas urban and rural, high schools public and private, and a variety of cultural, religious and socio-economic backgrounds. In fact, our students take great pride in this diversity and develop lifelong friendships with student colleagues and faculty mentors. The campus, which blends 40 traditional college buildings and historic homes, provides a close-knit, academic community, ensuring a student-centered environment with an excellent safely profile. The fact that students must reside on the campus and many faculty members live within walking distance fosters a sense of community that extends beyond the classroom.
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What's there to do on campus?

College should give you opportunities to exercise leadership skills and prepare for a future of working with others in many different settings and situations. Hiram is small enough that students can make a difference. In fact, we depend on students to fill all sorts of leadership roles on campus. International students are fully integrated into the life of the school and serve as officers on student senate and other organizations, as well as engaging in cultural, community service, and athletic activities. If your college activities list includes nightly parties and a list of events already planned for you, Hiram may not be your ideal choice. Hiram students are engaged participants, not passive observers. They are active in more than 70 campus organizations and athletic groups and organize all campus events from Homecoming and Spring Fest to the IF Dinner and Talent Show. For students who want the opportunity to shape the world around them, Hiram is a great match.

Hiram's location is also a plus. Our international students, from cities big and small, praise the natural beauty of the area. And, the College is only 35 miles from the heart of Cleveland – a major city and home to a world-renowned orchestra, art museum, theatre district, professional and recreational sports, and other recreational attractions.
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How long does it take to earn a degree from Hiram?

At colleges and universities in the U.S., students meet graduation requirements by accumulating credits rather than years. Each successfully completed course/class is worth a certain number of credits. Credit hours range from 1-4 per course, with most bearing 3 or 4 credits. A Hiram degree requires a minimum of 120 semester credit hours. The vast majority of students who complete their Hiram degree do so in eight semesters (four academic years). To achieve this, a student must complete 15-16 credit hours per semester. Students who bring AP, IB, A-level, or transfer credits with them, or who enroll in summer school courses, may complete their degree in fewer than the traditional four years.
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What does my major have to do with potential careers?

Contrary to what most first-year students think, a college major is not necessarily the same thing as a future career. At Hiram we recognize that the two may be related but are not necessarily directly linked. Choosing a major at a liberal arts college opens up many career opportunities, not just one. If you determine that your initial career choice doesn't suit you, it is possible to change majors early in your college career or you may decide to change your career aspirations without necessarily having to change your major. At many non-liberal arts colleges where careers are directly tied to highly specific majors, changing majors may be difficult or result in a longer time to complete the degree.
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What will I do when I graduate?

Our 160 years of experience tell us that the answer to that question is: "Whatever you want to do!"

Many of our graduates choose to work after completing their studies. This is true for an international student with an F-1 visa which permits them to remain in the U.S. for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT is full-time paid employment in a position commensurate with the student's degree, anywhere in the U.S. Students engaged in STEM programs of study may apply for an additional 17 months of OPT.

Hiram's Career Center plays an active role in assisting students beginning as early as the first year at Hiram.  Hiram's Centers of Distinction, such as the Writing Center, Entrepreneurship Program, Garfield Institute and other similar career oriented, campus-based opportunities encourage students to explore options and provide tangible links between classroom theory and the world of work.

While many of our graduates enter the work force after Hiram, 60 percent choose to go to graduate or professional school within five years. Hiram College alumni have gained admission into some of the finest and most selective graduate and professional schools in the country such as Harvard, Princeton, Ohio State, Cornell and Duke. They have distinguished themselves in a variety of fields including law, research, business, communication, education, medicine and veterinary science. If you wish to continue your education and you have done your part as a student at Hiram, our degree can open doors for you at some of the most respected programs in the country.
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