MyTC advises American and international students about selecting the best-fit school for their undergraduate education. In the United States, “college” and “university” are used interchangeably to designate the institution for undergraduate education leading to the bachelor’s degree (B.A. or A.B., B.S. or S.B., B.Sc., B. Eng.). In the USA, there are more than 2,500 colleges and universities offering bachelor’s degree programs.
So which is the correct term – college or university? The answer is simple: Both!
College is the generic term for an educational institution offering a bachelor’s degree program. A college offers undergraduate programs of study (4 to 5 years in length) leading to the bachelor’s degree.
A university is made up of several colleges, including the undergraduate college which confers the bachelor’s degree. (Other colleges at a university are designated by areas of study or graduate/professional degree programs.) The institutional reputation and the quality of the undergraduate education do not depend on whether the undergraduate institution is a college or a university.
Some advantages of attending a 4-year college are:
- Smaller campus size
- More interactions with professors
- More personal attention
- More opportunities for leadership positions
- Greater accountability for providing a quality education
Some advantages of attending a university are:
- Larger campus size
- Greater community diversity
- More undergraduate courses of studies
- More interdisciplinary programs
- More research opportunities
Generally stated, each type of institution offers certain advantages. For the most part, the quality of a student’s undergraduate experience is determined by factors other than the institutional designation of “college” versus “university.”