What is the Difference between College & University?

1,067 Views Updated: 30 Aug 2017
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What is the Difference between College & University?

We have often come across the term university and colleges. They are used quite frequently and often create a lot of confusion for a person. Students or at times their parents start to look for options in post secondary education and end up wondering what really is the difference between colleges and universities.

There are those who get completely confused about the difference between college and university. They think that college specifically refers to a private institution whereas the state funds universities. There are even those that feel that universities provide a better education than a college. Let's simplify things and clear out the difference between college and university.

What is a College?

Colleges are typically smaller institutes that they generally offer undergraduate degrees. There are certain colleges such as community colleges and junior colleges that may offer only two-year degrees. Some colleges offer a bachelor's degree, and there are those that offer an associate degree. There are further subdivisions in college such as community college and junior college.

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What is a University?

A university, on the other hand, is an institute that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Universities also offer graduate programs that lead on to more prestigious master's degree or even a Ph.D. These institutions also offer professional degrees for medical and law students who wish to pursue them. Universities also offer a certain special program where the student can earn both the degrees simultaneously in a limited amount of time. Students can earn both an undergraduate degree and a graduate degree this way. Universities have the upper hand as they provide a more diverse offering of classes and programs than a college. This diversity is owing to the fact that a whole lot of students enroll in a university to study and hence the Institute has a variety of courses to cater to everyone’s need.

(Image Courtesy: US News & World Report)

Difference between College and University? 

The whole thing comes down to one simple thing, and that is the size of the school system. Universities offer full-time undergraduate and graduate programs and a lot of diverse courses. This means that they have multiple schools within their system. You would find a plethora of courses and subdivisions in a university, among the various schools such as a school of arts and sciences and a school of engineering. College though offers very limited programs to the students and don't offer any master’s program.

What is similar in College and University?

Some of you may be wondering as to why certain schools like Dartmouth College or Boston College are not called universities. These two provide extensive undergraduate and graduate programs, and by that logic, they fall in the criteria of a university, but that's clearly not the case here.

(Image Courtesy: Newsweek)

So, the thing is that not all institutions of higher education who can call themselves university choose to do so. Despite the fact that the term university rather holds more value, these institutes prefer to stick to the old term ‘college’. In present America, the term university holds more value and prestige; some highly respected universities call themselves school purely due to traditional reasons. One such example of a university is the Dartmouth College. Even according to the grammarian, we seldom hear people say going to university in the US, rather after high school, you generally go to a college, irrespective of that college being a university. Grammarist, we seldom hear people say going to university in the US, rather after high school, you generally go to a college, irrespective of that college being a university. 

Were you also confused over the difference between a college and a university? We sincerely hope we have erased all your doubts. Do leave us feedback in the comment section. 

(Featured Image Courtesy: Difference Talk)

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