Do students at liberal arts universities have 'harder' courses than students at research universities?
Computer Science curricula at large research universities have 5 to 6 courses per semester. The Liberal Arts model dictates roughly 4 courses per semester. If the load on the student is considered to be equivalent, there must be something special to the teaching in the Liberal Arts model.
How is it that a 4 course Liberal Arts semester is as intensive as a 6 course research university semester?
UPDATE: Many of the comments below say the course load I mention above is inaccurate. I have obtained the figures as follows.
- The Liberal Arts Computer Science Consortium (LACS) has released 3 LACS curricula in response to ACM/IEEE CS curriculum recommendations. The first in 1986 in response to the 1978 recommendation, next in 1996 in response to the 1991 recommendation and the most recent in 2007 in response to the 2001 recommendation. The 4 year course breakdown in all the LACS recommendations is roughly the same:
- 4 courses per semester
- 30-35% CS courses, 10% math, 5% science, and the rest, i.e. 50% or more courses on arts, humanities and social sciences.
- A typical graduation requirement at a research university is at least 120 credits, which comes to 5 3-credit courses per semester. Many require more than 120 so 6 course semesters are not uncommon.