Living-Learning Communities and Independent Higher Education

Living-Learning Communities brief cover


  • Living-learning communities combine curricular, co-curricular, and residential components of college life. They are a relatively new variation on the residential education that has been part of the undergraduate experience at America’s independent colleges and universities for centuries.

  • Research suggests that living-learning communities have a positive impact on academic performance, intellectual development, civic engagement, and the smooth transition of first-year students into college life, among other desirable student outcomes.

  • Challenges to developing and maintaining effective living-learning programs include difficulties related to assessment, faculty participation, collaboration between academic affairs and student affairs, and program costs.

  • Independent colleges and universities have developed living-learning communities for a wide range of student populations—first-year students, first-generation students, upper-class students with specific academic interests, even commuters—in a variety of residential settings from traditional dorms to yurts.

​Council of Independent Colleges
By Philip M. Katz
October 2015