Why You Should Consider Attending a Research University

Whether you’re getting ready to pursue a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree and trying to decide between colleges, you want to know the school is at the forefront of your chosen field. Your college education is too important to attend a school that fades into the background.

If you want to become an industry leader, you need to be trained by an industry leader. That’s why, as you’re looking at colleges, it’s wise to take special note of whether the school is involved in significant research.

What Is a Research University?

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education has become the most influential way to recognize a university’s commitment to research. The organization classifies doctoral/research universities in three ways:

  1. R1 universities have “very high research activity.” These universities expect professors to be primarily involved in research. Accordingly, graduate students or adjunct professors tend to teach undergraduates.
  2. R2 universities have “high research activity,” but they still expect professors to be teachers first. Most courses are taught by professors who are involved in research (and may even involve their students in the work as well).
  3. Universities that fall into the third group, the Doctoral/Professional Universities category, have research activity but don’t meet the qualifications to be designated “research universities.”

To be considered an R1 or R2 university, a school must have awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees and had at least $5 million in total research expenditures. The Carnegie classification system relies on data provided by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

Why Should You Attend a Research University?

Students, like you, look at many factors when making their college decisions—from a school’s expertise in their intended field, to the social strengths of the campus, and career preparation opportunities. But as you’re looking at schools, you should also add the university’s research aptitude into the mix. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Research puts you on the cutting edge. When you attend a university that invests in research efforts, you’re learning through the experience of your professors. Professors bring what they’ve learned into the classroom and provide fresh, firsthand insights into the fields that matter to you.
  2. Research gives you access to top-notch educators. The best educators typically want to teach at research universities—they want to know the university will support their ideas and interests. Attending a research university ensures you’re taught by professors who are at the top of their game.
  3. Research allows you to be a part of something bigger than yourself. Research universities are hard at work solving the fundamental problems facing the world. When you attend a research university, you get the chance to be a part of groundbreaking research that could influence society for generations to come.

Why APU’s R2 Designation Matters for Incoming Students

Recently, the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education awarded Azusa Pacific University with an R2 designation. This is a major accomplishment that the university had long been working toward.

“The R2 designation is a real middle ground,” said Stacy Kula, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership at APU. “We have higher research activity, but the primary focus of our faculty is still on students and on teaching.”

Kula explained that the designation means students are getting significant interaction with their professors, many of whom are highly active in their fields and have a high level of expertise. She also noted that many students—including undergraduates and graduates—get to work on research projects with professors, providing hands-on experience in topics that matter in their chosen fields.

The R2 designation comes as APU celebrates its 25th anniversary of offering doctoral degrees. Kula said she believes the designation is a natural result of the university’s focus on research. “There has been an increased expectation that everyone is going to be involved in some type of scholarship, even if they don’t publish,” she noted. “They need to be involved in their field.”

Interested in attending Azusa Pacific University and helping to advance important research efforts? Learn more about the university’s available degree programs and apply today.