What Is the Difference Between a College and a University?
You might consider yourself a college student or say you are going to college no matter what type of higher learning institution you will attend. Even though this usage is perfectly acceptable, colleges and universities have several notable differences that may affect which type of school you choose.
Differences Between Colleges and Universities
There is a lot of overlap in the description of a college and a university. Both offer undergraduate degrees. Although a bachelor's degree is often the highest degree offered by colleges, some colleges may offer master's degrees. Universities, on the other hand, offer master's and doctorate degrees. To be called a university, a school must offer at least one master's degree.
Size plays no role in the distinction between a college and university. Some universities may be quite large, but there are also colleges that are larger than some universities. Additionally, whether a school is private or public also doesn't distinguish it as a college or university because either type of school can be public or private. The same is true for non-profit and for-profit schools, as both colleges and universities may be non-profit or for-profit.
There are other distinctions that may be made between the different of schools. This include a distinctions between different types of colleges and some additional factors that help to distinguish universities from colleges.
Type of Colleges
A 4-year college may offer certificate, associate, bachelor's or master's degree programs.
Community and Technical colleges typically offer programs focused on career preparation and train you in a specific career field rather than offering a more general education in a subject area. Community colleges may offer certificate, associate, and, occasionally, bachelor's degrees. Technical colleges usually offer only certificate or associate degrees.
Universities offer master's and doctoral degrees in addition to associate and bachelor's degrees. These institutions are often separated into colleges and departments; for example, while attending a university you might be a student of their liberal arts college.
Professors at universities are often involved in research, since many universities make scientific or scholarly research a point of focus. Some universities may house medical research facilities where students and professors work to solve real world medical issues.