What is an Institute of Technology?

Perhaps you're considering a degree in engineering, science, or computer programming, and you've heard about institutes of technology, but you don't really know what makes them unique.

Institutes of technology are four-year colleges and universities that offer degrees in fields like electrical engineering, chemistry, applied mathematics, and computer science, as well as “hot” areas like software engineering, interactive media, and biotechnology. They are different from technical colleges or institutes, which are generally trade schools specializing in two-year degree programs.

Degree programs at institutes of technology are often structured so students take courses directly related to their major from the very first semester, and students are usually fairly clear about the career field they want to explore. However, don’t rule out an institute of technology if you’re undecided about a college major. Many also have programs across a wide range of other academic fields. For example, MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, offers degrees in economics, history, and even philosophy. At Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York, students can major in film and animation, accounting, and hotel and resort management. Science and engineering are the primary focus, so make sure to take a look at the list of a college’s programs of study before you enroll to see if they offer what you are looking for.

If there’s one feature institutes of technology have in common, it’s a desire to prepare students for the future. As technologies change in the real world, tech schools are quick to install them in labs and classrooms and to integrate them into the curriculum. Most pride themselves on offering you the opportunity to learn on the most up-to-date equipment—the same stuff used in business and industry. This means when you start your career or head off to graduate school, you’ll be able to contribute from the get-go.

The faculty are also highly trained in their areas of expertise—and they have a passion for teaching. Most are active in their fields as researchers and consultants, which means that you’ll have many opportunities to collaborate on projects and learn from the best. At Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Arizona campus, professor Shigeo Hayashibara teaches various aspects of aerospace engineering fundamentals such as aerodynamics and works with students designing airplanes with advanced computer-aided design (CAD) applications. “Students can actually do better than they think; all we need to do is open a new door and encourage them to step in,” says Dr. Hayashibara.

When you combine future-oriented academic programs, an experienced faculty, and an exciting learning environment, the results of an education at an institute of technology are obvious: career placement is high, access to graduate school is good, and alumni are in demand!

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