Like many other New England states, the state of Vermont has a large amount of colleges and universities given the size of the state itself. There are 23 different institutions of higher education in Vermont, and in addition to the typical private and public universities, several of these institutions are unique specialty schools.
The largest school in the state and the only public research institution in the state is the University of Vermont. The university was first founded in 1791, and became the fifth college to be created in New England. In 1862, the university also become the premier land-grant institution in the state and added a focus on agriculture to its repertoire. Some of the fields of study available at the University of Vermont include community entrepreneurship, ecological agriculture, management information systems, engineering and education. Ben Affleck, the actor, director and screenwriter, went to the University of Vermont for one semester before he dropped out of school. Notable alumni include author Jessica Seinfeld, skier Billy Kidd and actor Kerr Smith.
Historical titles are battled for in Vermont, as three schools within the state share the distinction for being the oldest university in Vermont. The oldest operating institution is Middlebury College, which was the first college in the state to provide a degree to a student. The degree was conferred in 1802. On the other hand, Castleton State College can trace its roots back to 1787 with a line of succession to previous institutions. The University of Vermont also shares in this distinction, because it was chartered in 1791. However, instruction did not begin at the school until 1800 and it did not award its first degree until 1804.
In addition to the average university or college in the country, the state of Vermont has several more unique institutions of higher learning. For instance, within its borders are a professional art school, a culinary school and a law school. The state also boasts the title of having the most expensive college in its borders, which is also the most recent addition to the higher education field in the state - Landmark College. Landmark College was founded in 1984, and it provides students with learning disabilities the opportunity to have a higher education that is tailored to their needs. There is also a work college in Vermont. Sterling College, which has the smallest enrollment in the state at just under 100 students, focuses on environmental studies work programs.