Some schools are called colleges; others are called universities. What is the difference between college and university? Should you consider moving to one or the other? This article explains what it means when your school is a college or university and which type of school is right for you.

What is a College?

To begin with, a college is a place where people can pursue higher education and acquire specialized professional training.

However, a lot of people believe that all colleges are private establishments. It’s untrue. Both two-year institutions, including community colleges that grant associate degrees and four-year universities that grant bachelor’s degrees, are considered colleges.

Other colleges, meanwhile, concentrate on a single field. For two examples, it could be an engineering college or a military institution.

Class sizes and student populations are occasionally, but not always, smaller in colleges. They frequently foster a community atmosphere where students with specific interests gather.

Many people think of liberal arts colleges when they hear the word “college,” and they provide a wide selection of humanities and sciences courses. Because liberal arts schools provide more flexibility for people who want time to decide what they want to study, a student may begin there uncertain of what major they want to pursue.

Colleges typically grant undergraduate degrees in a wide range of subject areas. international students are occasionally unfamiliar with liberal arts universities because they are uncommon outside of the United States.

Admissions experts say prospective students occasionally might perceive incorrectly that liberal arts colleges only emphasize the humanities. But several of these institutions also grant degrees in the sciences.

Another widespread misconception is that institutions with the word “college” in their names don’t provide many opportunities for conducting original research. But, for example, 65 percent of Franklin and Marshall students participate in research before they graduate. 

A community college is a different category of an institution having “college” in its name in the United States. These two-year institutions award certifications and associate degrees focusing on the workplace. Despite having “college” in their name, several community institutions have sizable enrollments.

 Some students start their studies at a community college before transferring to a four-year institution to finish their bachelor’s degrees.

What is a University?

Many larger institutions with the word “university” in their name provide a choice of undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

 Some of the largest institutions are public universities, which may have tens of thousands of students enrolled. These institutions place a strong emphasis on research output.

However, it is a myth that all institutions with the word “university” in their name are large. On the contrary, some are relatively tiny, like Marymount California University, which, according to data from U.S. News, had 985 students enrolled in the fall of 2016.

Additionally, not every university is public. Some of the Ivy League colleges, including Princeton University, are among the many institutions that make up private universities.

Large universities frequently consist of smaller sections called colleges, which can sometimes add to the complexity for international students. In addition, these universities each have a distinct academic specialization, such as commerce, engineering, or social work.

Additionally, liberal arts education is not just offered at tiny colleges. Undergraduates at some universities, but not all, follow a core curriculum that requires them to study a range of general education courses before concentrating on their major.

Large universities typically provide a greater range of research opportunities than small institutions due to their size.

However, undergraduate students may have to compete with graduate students for chances and resources.

Universities are in public and private forms, much like colleges, but we frequently identify them with very sizable state institutions. A college must satisfy the following conditions for at least five years in order to be considered a university:

The institution must have a graduate studies program that is distinct from the undergraduate curriculum and staff members whose main duty is to oversee that program.

A minimum of three academic subjects must be covered by graduate programs that result in advanced degrees.The institution needs to be approved.

Graduate degrees, which all universities are required to offer, are ultimately what distinguish “college” from “university.”

Finally, research is a primary focus at most universities. Through collaborative research efforts and relationships with graduate students, this enables possibilities for practical learning



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College vs. University – Which do international students use more?

College vs university? The question of whether attending a university is preferable to attending a college is one that international students frequently ask. In fact, both might be excellent choices, and the one you make will depend on your needs and professional objectives.

When deciding between a college or university, keep the following three considerations in mind:

1. Size of the class

Class size may be crucial when choosing between a college and a university, depending on your learning preferences.

Colleges typically have smaller classrooms, whereas universities typically have larger ones. Some students find large classes daunting, especially when they have to ask questions. You have more possibilities to interact with the lecturer for a more individualized learning experience in smaller classrooms.

2. Career Opportunities

Universities in the USA may provide more possibilities if your goal is to obtain a master’s or a PhD. Universities may have additional resources and opportunities accessible to you since they emphasise research more. On the other hand, if you’re eager to learn more about a specific subject of study for an undergraduate program, a college would suit you just fine.

3. College Life

Your experience as an international student on campus will significantly impact how you define and shape your future. In this situation, both schools and universities offer their students a variety of chances and experiences to participate in and enjoy the experience of studying in the US. You can choose to participate in a sport, join a volunteer organization, or go to events taking place on campus, depending on how you would like to experience life on campus.

 It’s crucial to research the campus activities and programs offered by each institution or university before deciding where to enroll to ensure that they match your preferences.

 So the conclusion is that the universities are more frequently chosen by international students seeking higher education overseas than colleges, which local students often prefer.

Universities often consist of schools, colleges, or academic divisions. In this instance, departments within a university are equivalent to colleges. The academic staff is divided into departments, each focusing on a specific field.

Advantages of colleges

Universities and colleges have unique features and offerings that provide a well-rounded education. Recognizing and comparing aspects that may suit your academic and career goals can assist in choosing the right school.

 First, let’s look at the advantages of colleges then we’ll talk about the disadvantages of colleges:


Smaller class sizes that might offer a personalized learning environment are typical at US colleges. Smaller class sizes can foster a friendly atmosphere where you can get to know your lecturers and classmates. In a smaller classroom setting, discussing academic topics may be simpler, asking for assistance navigating the US educational system and taking advantage of opportunities to network professionally.


Many colleges are committed to fostering an outstanding undergraduate student learning experience by supporting various teaching approaches. Colleges prioritize teaching over research more (whereas universities often emphasize producing research). A college may be a good option if you want an education that offers individualized guidance and direction to pursue your undergraduate degree.

Disadvantages of colleges

Now it’s time to talk about the disadvantages of colleges:


Some colleges, especially those in rural locations, might not have the same varied student body as big universities. If your subject of study is research-based, a smaller atmosphere  could also mean having less access to resources and labs.

LIMITED Curriculum

Several universities, like community colleges, provide two-year associate degrees that just cover the fundamentals. Students must often transfer to a university to finish their studies if they want to earn a bachelor’s degree. However, even if you enroll in a university that grants bachelor’s degrees, you might be unable to locate opportunities for longer-term study because not all universities grant master’s or doctoral degree programs. Therefore, a university may be a better option if you want to continue your studies after receiving your bachelor’s degree.

Disadvantages of universities


Universities can accommodate a larger number of students. Although this can vary between schools, professors’ teaching styles may not be as individualized as college instructors because they frequently instruct students in huge courses.


Since universities house many students, enrolling in programs and classes can be more complicated than at a college. (Don’t worry if you can’t register for the courses of your top choice in time! Your advisor can help you navigate a variety of detours to keep you on course and help you reach your objectives.)

Advantages of Universities


Universities offer a wider selection of programs than colleges, giving students more options. They also offer credentials for professions like medicine, law, and many more that some universities might not be able to offer.


Since they actively seek out students from throughout the world, universities, particularly those public or located in cities, frequently have a wide range of students. As a result, you might interact with peers and professors from various origins and identities when you attend university. In addition, universities can offer a wealth of networking opportunities that could introduce you to future employment.

Why should we choose a college?

Compared to universities, colleges tend to be more immediately career-oriented. As a result, they frequently provide practical or hands-on instruction in smaller settings, promoting more contact between students and teachers.

Apprenticeships, certificate programs, diplomas, and degrees are just a few of the programs that colleges offer. Program lengths range from a few months to three or four years.

Should I study in college or university now?

Students need to consider several variables when determining whether to attend a university or college. Compared to small colleges, which promise a close-knit community and more personal learning environments, large universities provide an almost infinite range of academic pathways, people, and resources.

Vocational and technical schools may be the perfect choice for those who want to avoid wasting too much time in general education classes and get into the workforce as soon as feasible. Although the cost of trade school should be considered, full-time students can typically complete career-specific credentials in less than two years.

Students drawn to the conventional college experience may feel more at home at a large university or small liberal arts college because of the rich campus environments and different student bodies.

Students on a budget who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree might think about starting at a two-year university. However, finishing general education prerequisites before attending a four-year university is affordable and can save you thousands of dollars.

However, starting at a community college might not be the greatest option if you’re concerned about maintaining interest in your studies and would feel more productive in a buzzing university setting.

You must choose the one most closely fits your personality, interests, and financial and professional objectives.

Finally, choosing a university or a college depends on your career development strategy and long-term goals. Keep in mind that there is no right or incorrect decision. Instead, you can determine which colleges best suit your purposes by considering your hobbies and the talents you’d like to hone. Then, you can enroll in a school that will help you achieve your goals.

Concluding remarks

Universities and colleges have their own advantages and disadvantages. Before any decision you must examine and see which one is more suited for you.

Whether you choose colleges or universities, you should find the best way to apply for that university. And if you want to study in other countries like Canada, you have to apply for the visa too. Univly‘s experienced and dedicated team is ready to answer you and offer advice on studying in Canad

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