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A liberal arts college is a college with a primary emphasis on undergraduate study in the liberal arts and sciences.

Students in the liberal arts generally major in a particular discipline while receiving exposure to a wide range of academic subjects, including sciences as well as the traditional humanities subjects taught as liberal arts.

A "liberal arts" institution can be defined as a "college or university curriculum aimed at imparting broad general knowledge and developing general intellectual capacities, in contrast to a professional, vocational, or technical curriculum."[1] Although what is known today as the liberal arts college began in Europe,[2] the term is commonly associated with the United States[citation needed]. Prominent examples in the United States include the so-called Little Three, Colby-Bates-Bowdoin, and Little Ivy colleges in New England, the surviving, predominantly female Seven Sisters colleges along the northeastern seaboard, and the Claremont Colleges in Southern California, but similar institutions are found all over the country. Most are private institutions, but a handful of public liberal arts schools exist, for instance the University of Mary Washington.

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Liberal arts colleges are found in all parts of the world. Examples of such colleges are Bishop's University in Canada, St. Thomas University in Fredericton, Canada, John Cabot University in Rome, Italy, European College of Liberal Arts in Germany, University College Utrecht in the Netherlands, Foundation for Liberal and Management Education in Pune, India, Shalem College in Jerusalem, Israel, Campion College in Sydney, Australia and Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco. However, especially in Europe, many topics covered in the general education conveyed at American liberal arts colleges are also addressed in specialized secondary schools.

The “liberal arts college experience” in the United States is characterized by three main aspects that demarcate it from undergraduate experiences in other countries:[dubious ][citation needed]

  1. smaller size than universities, which usually means more individual attention is given to each student;
  2. residential, which means students live and learn away from home, often for the first time, and learn to live well with others. Additionally, the residential experience of living on campus brings a wide variety of cultural, political, and intellectual events to students who might not otherwise seek them out in a non-residential setting (though not every college has such strict residency requirements); and
  3. a typically two-year exploration of the liberal arts or general knowledge before declaring a major.

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