What’s the difference between College and University?

Email Newsletter 

Subscribe to our email newsletter to stay up to date with the latest news, articles and stories from our dedicated team:

    When searching for colleges or universities, an international student should understand the differences between these terms. In the United States, colleges and universities are often addressed interchangeably. It is important to note that colleges and universities have several differences that could affect which type of school is the best fit for you!


    What is a College?

    • A college is an institution of higher learning which provides a general or liberal arts education rather than technical or professional training. The population size of a college would be smaller compared to universities.


    For example, the following schools are just a few colleges that provide a general or liberal arts education in the U.S.: Northampton Community College, Wellesley College, and Middlebury College. Kelly Mae Ross, a staff writer for the U.S news, discusses in her article that a college is typically a small institution that mainly focuses on providing undergraduate degrees in the United States. Ross says, “some colleges, known as liberal arts colleges, give students an education in a broad range of academic areas instead of having them specialize early in one particular subject” (Ross). It allows students to explore their interests and decide what they want to focus on pursuing. Another type of institution that is considered is known as a community colleges; which focuses on delivering associate degrees or career-related certificates. If a student decides to go community college after they graduate, they can pursue further education through a four-year college or university to get their bachelor’s degree.


    What is a University?

    • A university is known to be a larger institution that has both undergraduate and graduate degrees within the school. The programs at a university have a broad range of studies that students can take advantage of as well.


    For a better understanding, here are some examples of public/private universities in the U.S.: Harvard University, Stanford University, Kent State University, Case Western Reserve University, and John Carroll University. In the U.S., universities are larger institutions that focus on providing both undergraduate and graduate programs. Most universities have the sub-divisions of college within the university. Some examples at certain schools are; the college of business, college of art and science, college of theologies, etc. However, not all institutions labeled as universities are considered significant or more extensive; there are plenty of private universities with smaller population sizes. For example, John Carroll University has an enrollment of 3,555, including both undergraduate and graduate students. Whereas, Kent State’s University enrollment size is about 231,122, including both undergraduate and graduate students.


    How would you decide which one is best fit for you?


    When it comes to choosing between college or university, you need to look into what each one offers and the cost of that particular school. It also depends on your significant choice of field and how many years you plan to stay; if you are someone who prefers a small number of people, then focus on choosing private universities or colleges that have a narrowed focus on your major. However, if you’re undecided and want to explore career choices, look into universities with colleges’ sub-divisions. You will have more options, and it could lead you in the right direction for choosing your major.

    Related Post

    If you enjoyed reading this, then please explore our other articles below: