A research university or a research-intensive university is a university that is committed to research as a central part of its mission. They are the most important sites at which knowledge production occurs, along with "intergenerational knowledge transfer and the certification of new knowledge" through the awarding of doctoral degrees. They can be public or private, and often have well-known brand names.
Undergraduate courses at many research universities are often academic rather than vocational and may not prepare students for particular careers, but many employers value degrees from research universities because they teach fundamental life skills such as critical thinking. Globally, research universities are overwhelmingly public institutions, while some countries like the United States and Japan also have well-known private research institutions.
Institutions of higher education that are not research universities or do not aspire to that designation, such as liberal arts colleges, instead place more emphasis on student instruction or other aspects of tertiary education, and their faculty members are under less pressure to publish or perish.