The aim of the Johns Hopkins University is to advance human knowledge through scholarship and research. From the very outset of its establishment, the institution has proven its value in research. Differing greatly from other U.S. institutions of higher learning, the Johns Hopkins University has brought revolutionary changes to the higher education in the United States. Today the university offers undergraduate and graduate programs in a number of fields ranging from engineering and social sciences, to natural sciences and the humanities. Established primarily in Maryland, the university has expanded to include campuses in Washington D.C., China and Italy. It is seen as a recognized leader in teaching, discovery and patient care, which determines its status of a prominent research university. Based on the German university model, the Johns Hopkins University was the first in the nation to conduct teaching through seminars instead of lectures only. It is also regarded as the first research university in the country to grant doctoral degrees. All of these innovations were the basis for the establishment of the majority of American research universities, and the Chicago Research University in particular.
The Johns Hopkins University School was named in honor of its great benefactor, who donated $7 million for the foundation of the school and the Hospital. From the very beginning, the university attached much importance to the graduate education. More than 80% of the university's undergraduate students produce research by the time of graduation. Today the name of the Johns Hopkins University is associated with 30 Nobel Prize winners. The prominent undergraduate and graduate departments of the university, includes Astronomy, Biology, Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, Art History, Economics, Creative Writing, English, Film and Media Studies, Environmental Engineering, History, German, International Studies, Political Science, Romance Languages and Near Eastern Studies. The Department of Biomedical Engineering is regarded as one of the best nationwide, while the French Department is seen as a center of excellence, providing deep insight in the French culture. The Creative Writing Department ranks second in the United States, according to the US News and World Report. Undergraduate and graduate degrees of the research university are also offered at the School of Nursing and the Peabody Conservatory. Among the internationally respected professional schools are the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. The Johns Hopkins University was one of the founding members of the Association of American Universities together with such institutions of higher education as Harvard, Stanford, Yale, Cornell and Columbia. The Association is dedicated to maintaining and reinforcing a system of academic research and education. The university is also a member of the Consortium on Financing Higher Education, which brings together top private colleges and national universities.