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Difference Between College and University (With Table)

College vs University

Whenever parents and students start there to hunt for different post-secondary educational options, they often tend to wonder about the difference between a college and a university.

Mostly these terms are used interchangeably which always creates confusion in students’ minds.

It’s fundamentally really important for the students to comprehend the difference so that they can make a correct decision.

Usually, people assume that college is a private institution while the university is a state-funded institution.

There are people who think that universities provide a much better quality of education.

The key difference between college and university is the courses they provide. Typically, the college offers students some undergraduate and associate degree programs due to the availability of limited resources.

On the other hand, a University has various departments that provide students with all major degree programs including undergraduate and postgraduate degrees leading to a master’s degree or a Ph.D.

Though it is a fact that exceptions are always there that’s why not all the colleges and universities will have the same traits.

Some of the universities may be very small in size while some colleges may have extensive research facilities available for the students.

Because of this sometimes the line of difference between the two is not well defined.


 

Comparison Table Between College and University (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonCollegeUniversity
DefinitionCollege is an educational institution for higher learning that typically offers undergraduate degrees.University is an educational and research institution that offers undergraduate and graduate degrees leading to a master’s degree or a PhD
AffiliationUsually, they are either affiliated to a university or any autonomous body.They do not require any affiliation from other universities.
SizeSmaller in size.Larger in size.
Research ProgramsCollege does not offer any research program to the students.University offers various research programs to the students.
HeadA Dean or Director is the head of a college.Vice-chancellor
Fee structureDue to limited facilities and small size, the fee structure is usually less.Due to multiple facilities and programs available, universities are way costlier than college.
CoursesA limited number of courses for graduate studies.Variety of courses varying from graduate-level studies to professional courses.

 

What is College?

A smaller educational institution that offers undergraduate courses to the students is termed as a college.

Most of the colleges offer bachelor’s degree while some offers associate degrees as well. There are various junior colleges that also offer only two-year degrees.

Meanwhile, colleges don’t offer any graduate programs.

They are usually smaller size due to which it provides only some limited research options to the students who are willing to pursue their higher education.

There are multiple colleges that simply focus on a single type of degree.

This more often than not provides the students with a greater amount of personalized attention from the faculty.

There are various colleges that also offer specialized courses and structures because of their limited enrollment.

There are colleges that also offer custom curriculum for students who have very specific interests.

College might be a suitable option for the students if they are looking specifically only for an undergraduate degree.

Also, if someone is not able to decide their major and overall academic goals, they should join a college so that they will get clarity about the type of career they want.

Popular Colleges in America
 

What is University?

A larger educational institution that offers both undergraduate and post-graduate degrees to the students is termed as a University.

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Usually, the graduate programs lead to a master’s degree and Ph.D.

Due to a larger enrollment of students in the university, they offer a greater variety of courses and programs.

Moreover, there could be several colleges working on one site. This is mainly because the majority of the universities are further divided into various small groups that are known as colleges.

Universities tend to focus mainly on research. Students are provided with opportunities for hands-on learning through independent research programs.

Universities have partnerships with some of the qualified graduate students on various projects which leads to a higher quality faculty.

There can also be times when these universities might provide little less and improper attention.

This is mainly because the tasks of research given a higher priority compared to undergraduate teaching.

In fact, there are a few universities that also offer both bachelor’s and master’s degrees. These are also offered in a comparatively shorter period.

Popular Universities in America

Main Differences Between College and University

  1. A college offers an undergraduate degree to the students while a University offers both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees leading to a master’s degree and Ph.D. to the students.
  2. Colleges have a smaller campus in size while universities have a huge campus area.
  3. No research programs are offered by the college to the students while University offers research programs to the students.
  4. Colleges have a lower student-to-faculty ratio while the university has a large student-to-faculty ratio.
  5. Colleges are less expensive as they provide limited facilities to the students while universities are expensive because of the wide range of their offerings to the students.

 

Infographic

College vs University

 

Conclusion

Generally, college and university are academic equals. In fact, as per the need of the student, a single kind of institution is best.

Most of the colleges are affiliated from Universities so they are a subpart of a university.

The difference is courses provided by them as college only provides undergraduate degree while a university offers you both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

Universities also provide you with the resources for your research work while colleges are not able to provide these because of their small size.

If someone wants to have a variety of programs and courses then the university will be a perfect choice but if they want small-sized class and some personalized attention of the professors then the college is a good choice for them.

So, basically, the universities offer more diversity in terms of programs and classes. The main reason behind this is the number of students that are enrolled.

So, whenever you start your hunt for some different post-secondary educational options you should always keep in mind the difference between a university and a college so that you can make a properly informed decision for your career. 


 

Word Cloud for Difference Between College and University

The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on College and University. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.

Word Cloud for College and University

 

References

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/College
  2. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/university