These Are America’s 10 Most Innovative Colleges

The United States is home to some of the most innovative colleges and universities in the world.

However, innovation and prestige are not mutually exclusive; many of the most innovative schools happen to be among the best higher education institutions worldwide.

So what makes a school innovative? For this list, we looked at unique curricular structure as well as groundbreaking research.

Many of these schools have a unique approach to higher education, often promoting a non-conventional classroom style of learning.

Other schools consistently make scientific & research advancements that have changed the world for the better.

So which schools make the list for the most innovative colleges and universities in the US? Here is our take for the 10 most innovative colleges in the country.

10. Goddard College (Plainfield, VT)

photo by Goddard College via Wikimedia Commons

Goddard College, founded in 1938, has a very different approach to education than most other colleges.

The college is particularly famous for its low-residency program. That program builds on the ideas of legendary educator John Dewey who argued in favor of intricate links between experience and education.

Through this program, students are given an 8-day intensive residency on the campus for each semester. This is followed by a semester that lasts for 16 weeks.

This is all done in close collaboration with a faculty advisor. Through this program, students are made in charge of the type of research they will do.

Students are allowed to design studies around their interests. The 8-day residency program includes interactions with alumni, staff, students, and faculty advisors.

All of this is made possible through an award-winning faculty consisting of experts. This customization of a curriculum allows for more one-on-one interactions and a better learning environment.

This method was pioneered to meet the needs of adult students that have parental and family obligations.

This allows them to get real-world experience as well as education. The low-residency model was pioneered in 1963 and has been a success ever since.


9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA)

photo by DrKenneth via Wikimedia Commons

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is one of the most prestigious universities in the world. It is revered as one of the best science universities in the world due to its consistent dedication towards research. Just a few of its most recent accomplishments include:

2010: Designing computer techniques that can decipher ancient languages

2011: Designing a radar system that can see past walls at a distance of 60 feet

2012: Discovering a new state of matter called Quantum Spin Liquid

2013: Designing a process that produces oxygen

2014: Designing a paper strip test for diagnosing the Ebola virus

2016: Recording the first gravitational waves ever in conjunction with Caltech and other institutions

2018: Designing the first plane that relies on ion-flow instead of moving parts, culminating in a steady flight

These accomplishments show how the university is still advancing in the field of science.

However, it became famous during World War II. The Radiation Laboratory at MIT, so named to avoid suspicion worked on Radar, accomplished wonders. Through the innovations made in that field, enemy aircraft and movements were more accurately detected.

Today, MIT is ranked as the best college for physics and the 2nd best for natural sciences, economics, and business.


8. Bennington College (Bennington, VT)

photo by Taylor & Burns via Wikimedia

Bennington College has integrated its classroom studies with annual field experience.

Each year, students at Bennington are given the option to choose from different fieldwork experiences. These can impart real-world experiences and “work-based competency development.”

Students are helped throughout their experience by the Office of Career Development and Fieldwork Team. The academic advisor allows students to choose from a large variety of work and learning experiences.

The program includes:

  • Summer or winter internships
  • Fellowships that include entrepreneurship, theater, or public services
  • Campus work that is eligible as work experience
  • Community or volunteer activity
  • Study away programs
  • Advanced research or independent study
  • Apprenticeships or professional certifications

Students are mandated to complete, at least, a single internship and can’t repeat any of the fieldwork experience options. They can only do the latter in very specific circumstances.

The total number of hours of fieldwork to be completed each year number 200. This means 6 weeks of full-time work. The typical completion of fieldwork is done through the winter term, although students can fulfill their obligations year-round.

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