What Is The Typical Teacher To Student Ratio For College Classes?

Average class size, the teacher to student ratio for any given class, is an important factor to take into consideration when looking at any college in order to determine what can be expected in terms of individual attention and feedback.

Student Ratios vs. Average Class Size


Often people get teacher to student ratios and average class size mixed up. While teacher to student ratios refer to the demographics of the university as a whole, teacher to student ratios specifically for college classes refer to how many people can be expected to be in an average class. While some universities may have a low student to teacher ratio, this is not always a clear indicator of low class size and vice versa, especially since research colleges often have high faculty counts but each member may only teach one or two courses.Average teacher to student ratios for college classes vary based on the academic focus of the college and the level of the course being offered. Due to the nature of the data, there are simply too many outliers for an average to be statistically sound. However, given the knowledge that non-profit 4 year colleges have, on average, one teacher for every 20 students, it’s safe to assume that despite variances, the average should fall somewhere around there.

Understanding the Variances

Variances do exist, however- some as severe as 400 students per class or more, though this primarily impacts public institutions. Private universities shift the curve to small class sizes, but will offer very large sections if a course is in high demand (such as an intro or cross disciplinary course). All top ten universities ranked by class size were private, indicating that this is not common or at least is much less common than at public schools. However, many of these schools are extremely small, suggesting that overall size of the school may be the biggest impact. If you need individualized attention, small universities would be preferable due to the commonness of reduced class size.There is some argument as to how far reaching the impact average class size is on the efficacy of a course, with recent data suggesting that a +/- 0.0108 difference is measurable in averaged performance of students in class sizes from 20 to 1,0002, but this was done with the same curricula and same professors in a controlled circumstance. Without the controls of an experiment, it’s hard to say what the impact could be. Other evidence suggests that in exceedingly large courses, attendance drops– as does active participation, satisfaction, and teacher ratings. There is little motivation for the reassessment of these courses as things stand as student to faculty ratios continue to be viewed as more important than class size.


For the most helpful and relevant information, it’s best to consult each college’s statistics separately and present them as percentages of courses that fall into each class size. Limiting this number to required courses also yields a more clear result as it removes the influence of highly specialized courses, which may have as few as 10 students per teacher or less.Typical ratios suggest students should expect 11-24 students per every teacher overall and extraneous courses should follow this pattern, while extremely common courses likely will not. Despite the lack of averaged data, class size still is a major consideration for any student in order to see if a school can fit their needs.