Is there any university in the United States (or Europe) fully committed to graduate programs (master and PhD)?

Why this is not a common scheme? Why research universities are not interested in this model? Without huge number of undergraduate students, a university can save money on campus expenses, and heavily uses its resources for research.

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    – JeffE
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 7:55
  • 1
    What do you mean "fully committed"? I can imagine that many of them are rather committed. Do you mean that they have no undergraduates? Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 7:57
  • @DaveClarke yes I meant no undergraduate program, only graduate.
    – user13854
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 10:42
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    This isn't worthy of an answer, but regarding the financial savings, at generalist universities there can be huge cross-subsidies between undergraduates in cheap disciplines (humanities, law) and postgrads in expensive ones (sciences, engineering)
    – sapi
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 12:32
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    How about middle east? i.e., KAUST kaust.edu.sa
    – seteropere
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 20:25

5 Answers 5


There are some universities that offer primarily postgraduate degrees; Wikipedia has a list. Some notable examples on this list are Rockefeller University (US) and the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel).

However, this doesn't necessarily save money; undergraduates in the United States typically pay tuition, after all. Other sources of income for universities in the United States (such as federal Pell grants) also apply only to undergraduate students. Furthermore, having a local population of undergraduate students allows budding academics (PhD students) to get teaching experience.

  • Not sure why they qualify their list "primarily". I suppose in order not to exclude an institution that once awarded an undergraduate degree for some obscure special case, or maybe a program that "rushes" students through a bachelor's degree into postgrad? Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 11:32
  • @SteveJessop a school that offers undergrad degrees as part of a dual bachelors/masters program but not as stand alone BA/BSes might also qualify. Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 14:01
  • @SteveJessop At least one institution on the list (Cranfield, UK) used to offer undergraduate degrees; so (a) there could conceivably be stragglers who complete the requirements for their degree later than their cohort, and (b) the decision to stop admitting undergraduates does not necessarily mean that the university statutes are amended to remove the option of admitting undergraduates.
    – avid
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 14:21

I don't think it's a common scheme, but such places do exist (e.g., the Austrian Institute of Technology).

In Europe, the main reason why there are not more of these places is that it is damn hard to get public funding for them (and most universities around here are funded almost exclusively by the state). Simply put, the main incentive for the government to fund universities is undergraduate teaching, hence getting them to pay for a university without any of those is a tough sell. We tended to half-jokingly mention that teaching undergraduates is our day job, which we do to support our breadless research.

The above-mentioned AIT is a special case, in the sense that it is pretty young and mostly the result of a political process. That is, it was not a "scientific decision" to get the AIT started, but a political reaction to divert public attention away from the ever-sinking buget for the regular universities.


Behold the Claremont Graduate University and the Keck Graduate Institute.

It's a little of a cheat, though; both are part of the Claremont Colleges consortium whose other five members are undergraduate-only institutions.


University of California at San Francisco offers only graduate degrees. From the aforelinked web page:

UCSF is unique in that it only offers graduate degrees (meaning it does not have an undergraduate student population).

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    UCSF is primarily a medical school but also offers masters and doctoral degrees in health-related fields: bioengineering, neuroscience, etc. Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 2:53

What you call is a research institute, not a university.

For example, my institute ICFO - The Institute of Photonic Sciences does not have undergraduate students (except for some visitors/interns). Some Master's and mostly - PhD students.

And at least in Europe such institutes are common (or at least - not uncommon).

a university can save money on campus expenses

Undergrads are the ones bringing money, if anything. ;)

  • As an undergraduate, I attended an "institute", and some of the postgrad-only places in the Wikipedia list I found are named "university". So I'm not sure this distinction is entirely accurate.
    – ff524
    Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 20:09
  • @ff524 "Institute" by itself is a generic word (and mean anything, from an independent organization to some faculty/department). I know research institutes providing education at selected levels. When it comes to university, at least in continental Europe (or at least in Poland?), there is a strict law saying what can bear its name (and certainly not every higher education institution); in US it not regulated en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University#Classification. Commented Jun 9, 2014 at 20:26
  • I think Research Institutes typically cannot grant degrees by themselves - they usually cooperate with a university to do so. As such, they are legally somewhat different from a university that only has gradudate students. However, research institutes are certainly more common than postgraduate universities.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 10:36
  • @xLeitix You are right. But still the question is about running postgraduate programs, not official grant-giving organs (in my case, I never visited its campus or anything). Commented Jun 10, 2014 at 12:28

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