Difference Between College And University
By Rebecca Rodriguez - October 29, 2021

Often used interchangeably in the United States, the terms “college” and “university” are actually not synonyms. While both kinds of institutions offer undergraduate education, they are not the same thing. The main difference between colleges and universities is degree types and program offerings.

Table Summary

Undergraduate programsUndergraduate and graduate programs
Mostly privatePublic or private
Usually more devoted to undergraduate teachingGenerally more devoted to research
Smaller student populationLarger student population
 Harvard University

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There are numerous types of colleges: liberal arts colleges, community colleges, and technical/vocational colleges. These institutions are often smaller than universities with fewer students and more intimate campuses, as well as fewer program offerings. Colleges are usually private institutions that receive little to no state funding, which means they don’t focus as much on research.

Universities are private or public institutions that offer both undergraduate and graduate programs. They usually have larger campuses and more students than colleges and offer a variety of programs. Unlike colleges, universities are generally more devoted to research and tend to feature several research facilities and labs.

College VS University

Colleges and universities are both higher education institutions that offer undergraduate degrees. While colleges generally offer fewer programs, universities not only offer more undergraduate degrees but also graduate programs. Besides, colleges tend to focus more on undergraduate teaching, while universities generally focus on research.