Sarasota, Florida, City and Higher Education Information

Sarasota, Florida, is a small city on the western coast of Florida. Known for its strong artistic tradition and for being the historic home of the Ringling circus family, Sarasota has several colleges and universities offering career training programs and undergraduate and graduate degrees. Find out more about the residents, economy and schools in this city.

About Sarasota, Florida

Located 50 miles south of Tampa and 225 miles northwest of Miami, Sarasota has a population of 52,910, based on 2012 U.S. census estimates. The city rises on a hillside beside Sarasota Bay on the Gulf Coast and is home to many writers, artists and performers. The Bohemian tradition is strong in Sarasota, which was largely developed by the circus mogul Charles Ringling, and today the area is still one of the state's leading cultural centers and is the base for several performing arts groups.

Sarasota has an extensive array of resorts, restaurants and boutiques. Siesta Key is a residential enclave of Sarasota Beach, popular among artists and writers, and is home to Siesta Village, the area's popular beach hangout area. Visitors and residents can find numerous theaters, an opera house and ballet and a film society. The city also boasts the Ringling estate, the home of the art-loving circus millionaire credited with inspiring much of Sarasota's style.


Sarasota's economy is dependent on tourism, education and the arts. Many local residents work in theater, hospitality and recreation, while a significant number are employed in education, social services, professional and management services and health care industries. A large percentage of employed adults work in management, with 33.7% of residents reporting management, business, science and art jobs as their occupations in 2008-2012 census data. An additional 22.8% work in service occupations, 27.4% in sales or office jobs and just 7% in transportation or production positions.

Higher Education

Sarasota has 16 colleges and schools. Charles Ringling's legacy endures in the city's Ringling School of Art and Design, a private art school that enrolls about 1,300 students. The New College of Florida is a public liberal arts institution based in the Ringling family estate and is known for its nontraditional evaluation and instruction techniques. The largest college in the city is State College of Florida-Manatee-Sarasota, which has almost 11,000 students as of 2012. This public college offers associate's and bachelor's degrees.

Other schools include Sarasota County Technical Institute, Everglades University and Keiser University. A number of proprietary career and specialty colleges are also found in Sarasota, including East West College of Natural Medicine and Sarasota School of Massage Therapy.

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