Difference Between College and University

What is a College?

College, in the strictest sense, implies a comparatively smaller educational institute that offers undergraduate degree programs to students. Although the term “college” has varying meanings in different countries around the world, it is generally used for an institute that comes after high school. In colleges, the scope of education is limited, ranging from two-year degrees to four-year degree programs.

In some countries like the US and the UK, colleges also mean institutes that impart liberal arts education. The specialty of these colleges is that they offer more comprehensive and multidisciplinary degree programs in contrast with typical specialization degrees. There are also some technical training colleges; such colleges offer short courses for various practical skills.

Some colleges are examples of community colleges. These colleges issue professional certificates and specialized courses. It is to remember always that different cultures have different connotations of the word “college”. Etymologically, this word comes from the Latin root word collegium. To understand it, it is an institute that comes after the high school, varying in factors like offered programs, enrollment size, etc.

What is a University?

University is the largest educational institute in all education systems of the world. Generally, it implies an institute with a single or multiple sub-campuses with a central governing body under which many departments work. As for the educational scope, it offers diverse degree programs, from undergraduate to doctorate and post-doctorate. A single university usually provides more than a hundred degree programs in different fields of knowledge.

University is broader in its scope, territory, opportunities, educational and non-educational activities, and resources. One of the essential characteristics of a university is that it offers more significant opportunities for research and development. There are two types of universities: public-sector universities and private universities. The former is funded by governments, the latter by privately owned organizations. Its enrollment size is considerably larger than other institutes.

In some countries, a university is also characterized by the high qualification of its faculty members. Professors are more qualified, mostly professional researchers and doctorate scholars. This is why the focus of a university is not only on imparting knowledge to students but also enabling them to do research and development. University leads top research projects in arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.

Difference Between College and University

  1. Colleges are smaller in size and degree options, whereas a university offers more degree programs and has a large enrollment size.
  2. Colleges are (generally) limited to offering only undergraduate and specialized programs, whereas universities offer degrees up to post-doctorate.
  3. Colleges, in some cultures, have less qualified faculty, whereas a university has a more qualified facility.
  4. Colleges have a cheaper fee structure, whereas university degrees have a bit more expensive fee structure.
  5. Colleges have less focus on research, whereas university provides a robust environment for research and development.

Comparison Between College and University

Parameters of ComparisonCollegeUniversity
SizeSmaller in size and confined to a specific purposeLarger in size and scope of educational degrees
Programs OfferedOnly undergraduate programs, in most casesDegrees from undergraduate to post-doctorate
Focused AreaMore focus on coursework and homeworkMore emphasis on research and development
FacultyFaculty members are qualified but not greatly More qualified and experienced faculty members
Fee StructureThe fee for college is lesser and affordable for almost all kinds of peopleThe fee structure is relatively expensive and un-affordable for some


  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.4159/harvard.9780674726093/html
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=KJ_2yq7K2E0C&oi=fnd&pg=PA1&dq=university&ots=27RtiOBToJ&sig=X023HSmBDK-aVWNO7c7XqfzBQMw