Oklahoma State Regents For Higher Education - School Classification

School Classification

The State Regentsuses a three tier classification system to establish a framework for overarching goals and objectives of the public institutions of higher education. Institutions of higher education can be categorized into one of three classifications:

  • Research University: "Also known as a "comprehensive university," a university that grants bachelor's, graduate and professional degrees and offers a wide variety of courses and degree programs. Along with instruction, research institutions also focus on research, extension and public service. Research universities usually have large student bodies and expansive campuses. Oklahoma's two public research universities are Oklahoma State University and the University of Oklahoma." Tulsa University, a private institution, is also classified as a Research University. Basic research, fundamental research (sometimes pure research), is research carried out to increase understanding of fundamental principles, to expand the body of a profession’s knowledge. A professor at a research university almost always has a terminal degree in their field of study, and is expected to bring in at least three times their salary in research grants to fund their endeavors to expand their profession’s body of knowledge. Because of the focus on research, graduate assistants (students working to achieve a terminal degree) often teach undergraduate classes; a form of a teaching apprentice program. At the graduate level, the focus is on typically on educating the student how to think, how to construct and destruct problems, the synthesis of ideas, and the development of new ideas, concepts, and theories.
  • Teaching University: including the “Regional Universities” has a primary focus of teaching and a “responsibility for institutional and applied research...” Institutional research is the minimum a university professor needs to do assure they are constantly imparting the leading edge of knowledge to students. Applied research is using some part of the profession’s accumulated theories, knowledge, methods, and techniques, for a specific, often for governmental, commercial, or client driven purpose. A professor at a teaching university usually has a terminal degree (but may have a master’s degree) and has a primary focus on teaching. In Oklahoma, at least ½ of a professor’s time must be spent performing teaching related activities in order to be considered full-time faculty. Applied and Institutional Research is typically funded through budgets and allocated through “release time” – obtaining an adjunct (or part-time instructor) to cover the professor's teaching requirements that are re-allocated to research. A teaching university focuses on Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, although a few institutions may offer highly specialized terminal professional degrees. An undergraduate student at a Teaching University will typically be taught by a professor (as opposed to a graduate assistant) and have smaller class sizes than a typical undergraduate student at a Research University.
  • Community College: A Community College will focus on offering certificate programs and two-year associate degrees aimed at professional focused curriculum. Most colleges provide for open admissions (few, if any, prerequisites need to be met for enrollment.) Some Oklahoma Community Colleges have supplemental funding from an Ad valorem tax district. Community colleges typically focus on teaching students how to be successful in a profession. In general, the State Regents define the following functions for a coummunity college:
    • To provide general education for all students (typically the first two years of a four-year degree; these “general education” courses are transferrable between any public higher education institution in the state)
    • To provide education in several basic fields of study for those students who plan to transfer to a university and complete a baccalaureate degree.
    • To provide one- and two-year programs of technical and occupational education to prepare individuals to enter the labor market
    • To provide programs of remedial and developmental education for those whose previous education may not have prepared them for college.
    • To provide both formal and informal programs of study especially designed for adults and out-of-school youth in order to serve the community generally with a continuing education opportunity.
    • To carry out programs of institutional research designed to improve the institution’s efficiency and effectiveness of operation
    • To participate in programs of economic development independently or with universities toward the end that the needs of each institution’s geographic service area are met.

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