An Introduction to Colleges & Universities in St. Louis

by Jessica Ponden
An Introduction to Colleges & Universities in St. Louis

Beneath the famed St. Louis Gateway Arch is a city with many worthy attractions, including nationally acclaimed universities, Fortune 500 companies and accomplished sports teams.

The metropolitan area encompasses 16 counties and has a population of about 2.7 million people. A recent Brookings Institution study of U.S. Census data found that more people are migrating to the area, especially college-educated people between the ages of 25 and 34.

Part of the appeal for young people is the city's reputation as one of the top 10 places to live, according to Money magazine. St. Louis was also named one of Forbes magazine's "150 Best Metropolitan Areas" in the U.S. for 2005. Also, six St. Louis-based companies – Panera Bread, Talx, Labarge, Reliv International, Young Innovations and ESCO Technologies -- made Forbes' list of "The 200 Best Small Companies" in the U.S. this year. In addition, Talx and Reliv also made Forbes' list of "100 Fastest Growing Public Companies."

It's not all work though -- there's plenty of opportunities for play in St. Louis.

The city offers more, free visitor attractions than any other place outside of the nation's capital, according to the St. Louis Regional Chamber and Growth Association (RCGA). There's the Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis Zoo, Cahokia Mounds, Museum of Westward Expansion, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri History Museum, Anheuser-Busch Brewery and Grant's Farm.

Also topping most people's list of things to see in the area is the aforementioned Gateway Arch. Standing 630 feet in height, it is the tallest man-made national monument and a true architectural wonder. The area also has a rich literary history. T.S. Eliot, Maya Angelou, Tennessee Williams, William Burroughs and Jonathan Franzen have all called St. Louis home. Plus, the ice cream cone, iced tea and kindergarten were all invented in St. Louis, according to the RCGA.

Going to School in St. Louis

With area universities and colleges enrolling nearly 89,000 students, the St. Louis area produces nearly 23,000 graduates with bachelor's, post-bachelor's or professional degrees each year, RCGA statistics indicate. The area has an extensive network of community colleges, which enroll an additional 66,000 students, as well as vocational and technical training facilities. Four-year institutions include the following:

Community colleges include:

About 30 technical and vocational schools enroll another 5,400 students. Areas of study include electronics, information technology, health care, cosmetology, aviation, administration and more. Many of the area's schools continually rank among the best in the nation. At Washington University, The Olin School of Business is ranked 12th in the country by U.S. News & World Report for 2005. The magazine ranks the university overall at 11th among national universities. Also listed is the School of Medicine at number three in the nation, and the George Warren Brown School of Social Work is number two in the nation.

Also making U.S. News & World Report's list is Saint Louis University, ranked among the top five Catholic universities in the country for 2005, and as one of the nation's best education values. And Webster University is recognized as "distinctive" in its study abroad programming. The university has overseas campuses in Geneva, Vienna, London, the Netherlands, Bermuda, Shanghai, China, Thailand and Japan. "The U.S. News & World Report survey confirms what we have known for a long time," said Benjamin Akande, dean of Webster University's School of Business & Technology. "Webster University is on the verge of greatness, it's refreshing that our peers recognize our contributions as well."

St. Louis Community College also has its share of acclaim. The biotechnology program recently received the Excellence in Education Award from the Missouri Biotechnology Association. The college also recently began development of a Life Science Center.

Lewis and Clark Community College will begin offering a new Associate of Applied Science degree - a program that was developed to meet the rising need for refinery operators locally and on a national level. Salaries in this lucrative profession start at $50,000. "These are high-paid jobs in high demand," Lewis & Clark President Dale Chapman said. "We are extremely pleased to be able to offer our area residents this degree and to aid our area employer by providing properly trained workers for these positions."


The cost of higher education in St. Louis varies and can be as low as $62 per credit hour to more than $30,000 year.

Lewis and Clark Community College, for example, charges in-district students $62 per credit hour, out-of-district students $195 per credit hour and out-of-state students $260 per credit hour. Tuition at Washington University, meanwhile, is at $30,546.

Financial Aid

All students are encouraged to apply for financial aid to help pay their expenses. The types of financial assistance available generally include scholarships, grants, loans and student employment.

At Saint Louis University, awards range from $2,000 to full tuition and are generally renewable at the same level if the required academic progress conditions are met. About 96 percent of incoming freshman receive aid.

Also, at private universities such as Blackburn and Greenville, about 90 percent of students get some sort of financial aid.

Washington University also offers a list of scholarships. The school awarded nearly $52 million in financial aid in the 2004-05 academic year.

The University of Missouri – St. Louis also works with students to meet their financial need. Students are instructed to check out the following websites for more scholarship and grant opportunities – FinAid!, FastWeb! and SallieMae's College Answer for more resources.


Students are strongly encouraged to get hands-on experience outside the classroom in the form of internships, coops and other specialized programs.

Washington University maintains a database of nearly 1,300 internship opportunities. And at Greenville, students have completed internships at places such as the city's historical society, chamber of commerce and city hall. In addition, Saint Louis University students have interned at AG Edwards and Sons, American Airlines, Anheuser-Busch, Boeing, Edward Jones, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Ernst & Young, NASA, Pfizer and many other prestigious companies, said Clayton Berry, director of university media relations.

"Saint Louis University follows the Jesuit tradition of educating 'the whole person,' which means that learning goes beyond the textbook," he said.

Fontbonne, meanwhile, offers a professional development program that combines academic courses with leadership community service, career preparation and professional readiness experience. More than 70 local companies participate including A.G. Edwards, Banana Republic, Ernst & Young, Pepsi-Cola and the St. Louis Dispatch.

At Lindenwood University, students can take advantage of the Work and Learn Program, which provides students exposure to volunteer agencies and social service programs.

More information is available by contacting an institution's career services representative or internship coordinator.

Employment in St. Louis

The St. Louis area boasts a work force of 1.44 million, according to data from the RCGA. The top regional employers with more than 10,000 employees, according to the St. Louis Business Journal Book of Lists 2005, include BJC HealthCare, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Schnuck Markets Inc., Scott Air Force Base, SSM Health Care, United States Postal Service, Washington University in St. Louis and Wal-Mart. The area is also home to some of the country's largest privately held companies, including Enterprise Rent-A-Car and UniGroup, parent company of Mayflower Transit and United Van Lines


Five St. Louis-headquartered companies also made BusinessWeek magazine's 2005 ranking of the nation's 100 "Hot Growth Companies," RCGA President and CEO Richard C.D. Fleming said.

"At a time when the region is putting such civic priority on nurturing and growing its entrepreneurial base, this positive showing in BusinessWeek's annual ranking is welcome news," he said. "This is the second consecutive year in which St. Louis was highly ranked."


Getting a degree at a school in St. Louis is enhanced by the area's excellent educational and internship opportunities, plus the diverse economy and great recreational resources make for a fabulous social environment for students in this city.

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