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What are the main Differences between a College vs. a University?

What differentiates a College from a University? Are there real differences between a College and a University?

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A college is different from a university in many ways. The difference also depends on where the individual lives like for instance in the U.S., a college refers to a school or institution that offers four-year courses and nothing more than a bachelor’s degree. A college may also refer to separate departments or school inside the institution. In some countries, colleges refer to different levels of education. On the other hand, a university refers to an institution that offers postgraduate programs that lead to master’s degree or doctoral programs.

Terminology for Different School Levels

The terms “college” and “university” are most of the time used to refer to an institution that has gained a higher status in providing advance education to students. There are also multiple public-degree granting systems in some areas. Often times there are several community and junior colleges and technical or art schools on the same level. Universities are institutions that offer higher degrees that take more than four years to complete.

Colleges in Traditional Settings

Before, the word ‘college’ refers to a part of a university. Big universities are divided into different colleges or departments that offer different degrees and college courses. Each college then is headed by a dean. The university is responsible in granting the degrees. Also universities offer programs that lead to master’s degree and doctoral programs.

Historical Context for Colleges

The term “college’ was first used in the U.S. back when the schools established were just small. They did not follow the magnificence of European, particularly Oxford. Back then only men were allowed to attend early schools like Harvard. They can only advance to doctorate degrees if they studied abroad.
When colleges started to expand and grow, that’s when they adopted the name “university”. This suggests that advanced degrees are being offered and that there are many smaller schools. Still there are old colleges or institutions that decided to retain their old name even if they already offer advance courses which later has created confusion in the U.S.

Alternative uses in Various Countries

There are countries that use the term “college” but are not really institutions of higher learning. The term “college” refers to secondary schools in places like Ireland, New Zealand, Hongkong and South Africa. In Canada, “college” refers to junior or certificate schools that offer training. In France, college is a junior high or secondary school while in the UK, it is a part of a bigger university.

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