Destination Kansas City

Greater Kansas City offers a remarkably strong and diverse range of educational institutions.


In fact, the area’s public and private schools are one of the features that make Kansas City’s quality of life such an enviable one.

To be accurate, one relative gap in this otherwise positive picture involves the Kansas City School District. Although major strides have been made, this district, the largest in the area, has faced numerous challenges. In contrast, however, outstanding public schools are located in that city’s suburban districts and most districts in outlying communities from Sedalia to Topeka.

Aiming High

Higher education is a surprising strength here. Greater Kansas City is home to several major state universities, and residents have easy access to several others. Nearly two-dozen private colleges and universities are located here, including several with national acclaim. I-70, which slices the region from east to west, is home to no less than four state
universities within a short drive of Kansas City. Combined, these colleges and universities host more than 100,000 students within the metro or only a short hour or two drive away.

Though not entirely new, a significant trend is the focus on higher education in the Kansas City area. The competitive higher education field is one reason, with both state and private institutions continuously expanding their programs and increasing resources for them. Another factor is the region’s growing interest in the life sciences and other high-tech fields. This is bringing increased focus on local institutions of higher education, often adding an important plus when state legislatures and boards of directors develop budgets. Both the Missouri and Kansas university systems offer outstanding programs, but each has areas of special strength that local residents and businesses can access because Greater Kansas City straddles the state line.

The University of Kansas and The University of Missouri | KU to the west and MU to the east are both easily accessible from the Kansas City area.

Although the Missouri–Kansas state line is sometimes a problem in other areas, in the field of edu-cation it provides the benefit of two state systems rather than just one and an increase in resources. Res-idents and businesses can access two distinct university systems with outstanding programs, a definite advantage both in terms of afford-ability and range of choice.

Inside Kansas City proper, the largest institution is the University of Missouri at Kansas City, with an enrollment approaching 15,000 students. Granting baccalaureate, first-professional, master’s, and
doctorate degrees, the university operates a College of Arts and Sciences, a conservatory of music, and schools of business and public administration, computing and engin-eering, education, law, pharmacy, dentistry, nursing, medicine, and biological sciences.

The University of Kansas at Lawrence hosts nearly 21,000 undergraduates and some 6,000 graduate students, as well as nearly 3,000 at its medical center in Kansas City. The university enjoys a growing national reputation as one of the top research and teaching universities.

The University of Central Missouri | On the
eastern side of the Kansas City area is one of the most dynamic universities in the Midwest.

Only slightly smaller is the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, with approximately 11,000 students, and Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, with 5,000 students. Both the University of Missouri at Columbia with over 28,000 students and Kansas State University at Manhattan with over 23,000 are readily accessible from Kansas City.

Focused on medicine, the Kansas University Medical Center is located in Kansas City, Ks. The University’s Research Institute is the region’s only Carnegie Level One Research institution.

Smaller Strengths

Many consider the area’s private colleges and universities to be its best asset. William Jewell College in Liberty is ranked annually as one of the best small colleges in the nation. Park University in Parkville, Rockhurst University in Kansas City, University of Saint Mary in
Leavenworth and Missouri Valley College in Marshall, among many others, are respected institutions with innovative programs. Other recognized programs are offered by the Kansas City Art Institute, Avila College, MidAmerica Nazarene University, Baker University
in Baldwin, Ks., and Benedictine College in Atchison, Ks.

Some of the specialization offered by local schools deserves comment. While Cleveland Chiropractic College is widely known for its medical education, Devry University offers two locations here that are widely recognized in business. The Kansas City
University of Medicine and Biosciences’ success is evident by its growing campus near Downtown Kansas City.

Business owners and operators should also know that nearly all of these institutions offer vocational, career and business programs that can be a major plus. One of the most unusual is at William Jewell, which operates Pryor Leadership Center and several advanced, executive training programs. UMKC offers several programs that have earned national acclaim.

For programs directly related to business, the greatest concen-tration of curriculum may be found at the local community colleges: Metropolitan Community College on the Missouri side, Johnson County Community College and the Kansas City Kansas Community College in Kansas. All three operate a number of specialized training programs on their multiple campuses, including several operated with corporate partners tailored to the needs of individual companies.

Private schools for elementary and secondary education are also strong here. Barstow, Oakhill Day, Oxford Park Academy, Pembroke Hill and Wentworth Military Academy offer widely recognized programs. In addition to outstanding public districts in almost every county, excellent parochial schools are available as well. From kinder-garten to the university level, education is a priority to the residents of the Kansas City area.   


Partnerships Produce Dividends Creative, mutually beneficial collaborations between business and education is so common in Kansas City that it's no exaggeration to say each institution of higher education has several partnerships with area corporations. In addition to training programs and workforce development projects, the area's educational leaders are inordinately responsive to community-wide initiatives. For example, area colleges and universities have developed innovative curriculums to facilitate the continuing development of industries like life sciences and biotechnology. As corporate challenges continue to grow increasingly complex, it's obvious that strong ties between the two worlds will only get stronger.