What’s the difference between Colleges and Universities

Let’s be honest. Choosing the college you want to attend isn’t easy. With so many considerations and schools to choose from, many students are overwhelmed with questions. One such question, what is the difference between a college and university?

On the outside, colleges and universities are seemingly similar. But there are some differences that you should be aware of.

So, What Is A College Exactly?

Like a university, colleges are higher education institutions where students can get their degrees. The major difference here is that colleges tend to be smaller and offer a more comprehensive range of lower degree options such as two-year degrees and certification programs. 

A college can include community colleges and junior colleges, offering students the chance to slowly step into the college world before jetting off to the bigger university option. 

While there are colleges that offer four-year bachelor degrees like their university counterpart, you will still find these schools to be much smaller as far as class options and campus size.

How is a University Different from a College?

As mentioned above, a university is generally a much bigger school than a college and offers additional higher education options. For instance, universities offer undergraduate and graduate degrees — this allows students to get their masters, Ph.D., or professional degrees after they’ve completed their undergraduate education. 

Since universities are bigger, they also tend to offer a more extensive selection of classes and more diverse programming. For specialty majors, a university will generally be a better choice, as they’re more likely to offer the courses you need. 

The Murky In-Between of College and University Status

These differences are not necessarily hard lines. It’s essential to keep that in mind when you’re making your decision. Some institutions have been around for a long time, and despite being called a “college,” they actually offer higher education options not traditionally offered by most colleges. 


Sometimes, it’s all in the name and how long it’s been around. Whether the school you choose has the status of “college” or “university” doesn’t matter as much as long as you know they offer what you need. To ensure the school you want to attend provides the major and courses you want, you should contact the admissions office directly.