If you’re considering getting an education beyond high school you might be wondering what is the difference between a university and a college? A lot has to do with where you live but there are some general definitions that seem to apply for most terms used for continuing education.
A college is typically an institution where you can get a degree. A community college typically only offers associate degrees that take up to two years, but nothing beyond that. A university is typically much larger and offers a wider variety of degrees. An online school can be an actual physical school that offers online courses and degrees or a school that operates only through the Internet and correspondence. Each of these must be an accredited school for the degree to actually count for something.
Traditionally in the United States, college is an institution where you can get a degree. Whether it’s a community college that offers only associate degrees or a four-year college where you can get a bachelors degree, the school is typically each one that offers a variety of degrees in many different subjects. What is the difference between a university and a college? College differs from a university both in scope and size. A business college or technical college will focus on those specific subjects. A general college or community college will have a wide variety of offerings but they’re not likely to have extensive offerings in each discipline.
A university, on the other hand, is typically a much larger institution. When you’re trying to determine what is the difference between a university and a college it can get confusing because often universities are said to have colleges within them. A large state university for instance could have a college of law, college of music, college of business, college of nursing and other colleges with specific distinctions. So the university will have several smaller very specialized schools within it called colleges where students studying in those disciplines will spend their time. The university also typically offers degrees beyond a bachelor’s degree. Universities are institutions where you can go to get a master’s degree or a PhD.
So finally, what is the difference between a university and a college? Colleges in the United States first got that name because they didn’t seem to measure up to the size and stature of the large English universities. Some of the biggest differences are the size and prestige. However, today there are online universities as well as colleges that don’t measure up in size or stature, either. That’s because with each passing year the terms are more and more interchangeable. But it’s still widely understood that a university is typically larger and can grant more advanced degrees like doctorates and master’s degrees. A university may also have several separate colleges that operate under its umbrella. It’s acceptable to call a large university a college because the terms are so interchangeable. But you’ll rarely see anyone call a college a university because of that size distinction.