In conversation, many people in the US use the words ‘college’ and ‘university’ interchangeably, but what is the difference between the two? Is there really a difference between the two? And how will it impact your education?
The level of degree obtained at either a 4 year college or university in the US is generally the same. However, colleges such as ‘junior’ or ‘community’ colleges, more commonly just run 2 year programs, resulting in a different type of degree, e.g. an associates degree. In most states, gaining a 2 year degree will allow you entry into a 4 year college or university (however, rules vary depending on the college/uni, so check for your chosen school specifically if in doubt).
Overall, colleges are usually smaller than universities, with fewer students and smaller class sizes. Both 4 year colleges and universities are authorised to grant various levels of degrees.
The regulations set to define a university vary from state to state, but generally, universities offer a wider range of undergraduate and post-graduate courses than colleges, with a greater focus on research and with some classes being taught by post-grad students as well as professors.
Universities can be broken down into colleges, e.g. college of arts, within a university. Colleges within a uni can then be broken down into schools, e.g. school of visual design, within the college of arts, within the university.
But remember – the name of your chosen school isn’t as important as the school’s ability to meet your educational needs. You must ensure your chosen school runs classes that will interest you and that the school environment is right for you, regardless of whether it’s a college or university.
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