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Olin Library and the Andrus Center on the campus of Wesleyan University, an American liberal arts college

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

A "liberal arts" institution can be defined as a "college or university curriculum aimed at imparting 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. Prominent examples in the US include the so-called Little Three and Little Ivy colleges in New England and the surviving, predominantly female Seven Sisters colleges along the northeastern seaboard, but similar institutions are found all over the country.

Liberal arts colleges are found in countries all over the world as well. Examples of such colleges are Bishop's University in Canada, European College of Liberal Arts in Germany and Roosevelt Academy, University College Utrecht and Amsterdam University College in the Netherlands. The “liberal arts college experience”, however, is typically American. Indeed, it is a key feature of a college career in the United States.

The “liberal arts college experience” in the US is characterized by three main aspects that demarcates it from undergraduate experience in other countries:
(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; and
(3) a typically two-year exploration of the liberal arts or general knowledge before declaring a major.

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