What exactly is an 'institute of technology'

There are colleges & universities like the California institute of technology, Massachusetts institute of technology, Georgia institute of technology, New Jersey institute of technology, Illinois institute of technology, etc and several others.

What seperates an ‘institute of technology’ from a college or university? Is it just a voluntary title or do you have to have a higher level of academic standards and research to be called that?

In general, the name of an institute of higher learning means very little. Most of the time, in the US, universities and institutes are composed of several individual schools (sometimes called colleges) which focus on one subject area. Colleges are often smaller institutions which may have a wide variety of subjects under the auspices of one school.

But nothing obeys this rule strictly. Every institution has exceptions.

I think, roughly speaking, IITs are more focused on practical training versus liberal arts training, and tend to be more research oriented

It seems to me that they’re simply universities (which include both educational and reseach facilities) that specialize in the natural sciences.

It also seems to be that if MIT had been named differently, there wouldn’t be any other “institutes of technology” in the U.S.

I went to an Institute of Technology here in Melbourne. It focused heavily on IT and engineering courses, with a negligible Arts faculty only offering communications and social science degrees.

Please make my day and tell me that there’s a Massachussets Institute for Novel Genetic Engineering, a Texas Institute of Technology and Science, or a Baltimore Institute of Genetics, Physics, Engineering, Networking and Information Sciences! :wink:

Don’t forget Polytechnic Institutes, too: Worcester Polytechnic, Renssalaer Polytechnic (RPI), Rochester Institute of Technology, etc. I believe there’s a large technical school in Richmond, Virginia as well.

Yes, and RIT is always careful to mention that it is a university.

Plus the two campuses of California Polytechnic University, at Pomona and San Luis Obispo. Their website mentions they are one of only six polytechnic universities nationwide, whatever that means.

Historically, I think it simply means that the older colleges were traditionally liberal arts schools and didn’t have engineering programs. Specialized schools for engineers were given other names to signal what kind of degrees they gave out. The names have changed over the years as well. RIT originally started at the Rochester Mechanics Institute. That was before mechanic took on its modern meaning as someone who fixes cars or planes.

Similarly, there were also Ag schools, like Texas A & M, originally the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas. There’s also Florida A&M, Georgia A&M, etc.

State colleges were usually designed to give out “practical” degrees, with the U of [State] colleges more academically oriented, with liberal arts degrees and the professional colleges of medicine and law.

Most of these were land grant colleges:

Cornell is the odd exception, an Ivy League college that is a land grant university. But it has a College of Veterinary Medicine and a College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Normal schools were teachers’ colleges.

There were other specialized, usually very small, colleges as well, but most of these have closed, merged with other schools, or changed their names and functions over the years, like the Normal schools did.

Nice one Exapno Mapcase!

You covered it, more or less. I worked at both MIT and Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo. Very tech-y institutions. It should be noted that both schools have commendable liberal arts departments, though one typically doesn’t apply to either school if you’re planning to major in English Lit. The students who majored in liberal arts typically were strong students in the sciences as well, especially at MIT. Not as true at Cal Poly; as a state school a lot of people were business or liberal arts majors who had absolutely no interest in science and technology.

Not to hijack, but to really tick off a Georgia Tech graduate one can call it that “North Avenue trade school”.

Don’t know about Richmond, but in Blacksburg there’s the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, more commonly known as Virginia Tech.

In addition to Exapno Mapcase’s post, this Wikipedia article has a lot of information.

I’d love to know what on earth they mean by that, too.

I work for a Research Institute affiliated with a university.

We do contract work for the Department of Defense. We are pretty much like any other contractor, in that we have to submit proposals, deliver stuff, meet cost and performance milestones, etc. But there are some differences when compared to other government contractors, namely:

  1. We are non-profit.

  2. Some of our “profit” goes to the university.

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology used to be called Rose Polytechnic Institute. :wink:

There are also ‘Polytechnic’ high schools, which may or may not have a tecnical or scientific emhasis. For instance, L.A.'s Francis Polytechnic High got its start in 1900 as the ‘Commercial High School’ which emphasized training for business and office work. The name was changed to Poly early on, in 190-somthing.

Are you sure about this? I lived near RIT for yeatrs, and never, in any written item or other way did I ever hear them refer to themselves as a “University”. It would have been confusing, since the University of Rochester is just down the road, and if you said “University” someone would think you meant the U of R.

The biggest difference between Institutres of Technology and other academic institutrions is that the concentration of disciplines is different. At my sister’s college you had all the liberal arts spread out in their own departments, and all of “Engineering” in one department. At MIT there are separate departments for Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Aero and Astro Engineering, and Nautical Engineering. The Liberal Arts all get smooshed together in a department of “Humanities” (which you can major in at MIT. A friend of mine did. He started out in computers, but switched over).

Positive. I lived at RIT from 2000-2004, and heard it often from the higher ups. Now we students and professors just called it RIT (along with some less flattering names), but President Simone found a way to work the word university in almost every campus email he sent out. It’s all part of the plan to reach Ivy League status which was started around 2001 or 2002, and to distance the school from purely technical places like DeVry and ITT tech.

From the announcement of Simone’s retirement

Here’s a link to RIT news , which is called “university news” and the official RIT magazine which is called "university magazine.

Hijack: when were you in Rochester Cal? Were you there for college, or did you grow up around here?

I was there in the late 1970s early 1980s to attend the U of R for my doctorate. We had a disagreement (they thought I shouldn’t get a degree – after I’d passed all the courses and qualifying tests and done the bulk of my research – and I thought I should), and I ended up completing my degree in Utah.