Difference between a University & College in the US

admin / February 28, 2019

In India, we have UGC – to define the term ‘ university ’ to an educational body that meets certain requirements, in the US, there is no such centralized educational regulatory organization to differentiate.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education provides a classifying framework for educational and research purposes, but by and large, the usage of terms ‘university’ and ‘college’ still depends on the institutions themselves. This can be confusing to international students. Let us try to differentiate between these two terms and see how you can make the most out of your study abroad experience.
University is a generic term used for educational institutions that offer full-time graduate programs. These institutions usually grant masters and Ph.D. degrees. Universities are large institutions with student enrollment typically running into thousands. They may be private or state-funded. Most large universities are research oriented and offer great labs & huge libraries.

Colleges, on the other hand, are generally smaller institutions and may offer full-time undergraduate, vocational or associate degrees and diplomas. Also, there are career colleges, liberal arts colleges and community colleges in the US.

For functional and administrative purposes, universities may be organized into colleges (or schools, departments, institutes, faculties, etc.). Also, there are many universities that offer undergraduate concentrations, short-term and certificate programs. Further, colleges like Dartmouth College, Boston College are actually research universities that offer a range of UG and PG courses—they deliberately choose to retain the term ‘college’ only because of their historical prominence. In fact, they do extensive research as well.

Ambiguous? Do not worry about terminology so long as you decide the right college/university for yourself. Here are some bullet points that can help you :

1. What do you want out of your study-abroad experience?

Most of you are already prepared with some goals on your mind. Some may have a thirst for knowledge in a specific field, others may be in pursuit of international exposure. Still, others may foster long-term goals like working and settling abroad. Whatever your goals, be sure to list them out and consider them against each college/program option available to you.

2. What is your field of interest?

The best thing about higher education in the US is its flexibility in regards to courses and credits. You can choose to study music with computer science; you can finish a four-year 120-credit UG degree in 3 to 3 and a half years. You may also choose to do a minor or major in an upcoming field like big data, sustainable engineering or field like aquaponics. The possibilities are enormous, so take your time to explore various programs as per your interests.

3. Where do you stand?

Admissions officers at US universities evaluate your overall profile based on scores in the entrance and qualifying exams, extracurricular activities, internships, writing skills, recommendation letters, etc. Certain universities/programs fit your profile better than others. Do a self-assessment of your profile if required.

4. Who to approach?

Seek help from experienced Global Education counselors. They know the right time to apply and keep tabs on university deadlines. They can help you with profile improvement, application essays and direct you to apply to universities where you stand a good chance of getting an offer. This can save you a lot of stress so that you can focus more on exam preparation. Talk to an admissions counselor @ 9849384093

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