Difference Between College and University

4 minute read
Difference Between College and University

At least once in our lives, we come across the terms like University and College and we wonder what it is like to be studying in them? This question arises especially when we are about to finish our school education and are considering our choices for the pursuit of higher education from India or abroad. It is fascinating to see the students pursuing higher education in the fields of their choice but do we know the difference between the two? Hence, to bring some clarity, we are here to help you understand what is the fundamental difference between college and university. 


To know the difference between college and a university, we will first have to understand how these institutions function at the primary level.

A college is an establishment or an educational institution that aims to provide vocational training courses and academic degrees as well at the undergraduate level. The courses at college usually span for 3 years but in some cases, the course duration is stretched to 4 years. Some colleges follow a yearly academic pattern while as the majority of them design their curriculum semester wise. The courses at the college level are divided into 6-8 semesters with each semester of 6 months. A college can be a part of a university or an autonomous functioning body. 

On the other hand, a university is an extended version of a college where a student is given the opportunity to specialize in a particular program. The university degrees span over the duration of 2 years and by the end of which a student is expected to go for a research degree or start looking for a job. The degree programs offered at the university are more intensive and give students an in-depth knowledge of the subjects. The professional courses like MBA, MIM, Aeronautical Engineering, Criminology etc that are taught in a university are widely pursued after due to the increasing demand for the highly trained professionals in these fields. University usually is an amalgam of colleges that specialize in different disciplines.

For example, Arts colleges, Medical colleges, Business colleges may have a common parent university. Don’t be confused if you see the word ‘school’ being used for a college which is a common trend in the US. Comparing the two it is easier to tell the difference between college and university, but in the case of privately owned colleges and universities, the line sometimes gets blurred. 

Difference between College and University – Which One to Go For?

Students often are caught in a quagmire of thoughts when they complete their high school. Due to lack of awareness, students can make mistakes while choosing a career path. To avoid confusions which can have a negative impact on the career of a student, it becomes imperative to have a career map. It not only helps them to be confident about their decisions but also gives them a roadmap to follow in order to accomplish goals and pursue a successful career. The confusion about the difference between college and university often leads to making unplanned decisions. Depending upon their need, students can research the courses they want to pursue and choose an institution accordingly.

The question is not whether a college is a better option or a university should be given preference but it is about what a student is looking for.

Let’s simplify it further.

Choosing Academic Courses

For academic courses, there are strict guidelines for the eligibility criteria at both college and at university as well. If a student is planning to study an undergraduate program after completing high school, the college is the place to go to. On the other hand, the university offers masters degree programs, Integrated PhD and research degrees for those who wish to pursue higher education. For bachelor’s courses at college, the eligibility criteria require a student to have qualified the high school examinations and complete other institution-specific formalities like aptitude tests and language tests. 

Choosing Training Courses

In the case of certificate programs and short courses, it is important to look for the right available options. If a quick certification course is required after the high school, then colleges may offer specific certification and training course while as for specialized and more professional courses, the university is the better choice. Universities offer advanced diplomas and post-graduation diplomas in a range of fields apart from short-time certificate courses languages. 

We hope that this blog helped you in understanding the key difference between college and university. Especially if you are thinking to move abroad to pursue higher education, then, understanding the basic difference in these two terms comes in handy. So, if you want to pursue overseas education, then, our robust network of mentors and counsellors at Leverage Edu can help you navigate through the broad range of universities and colleges abroad to help you find your personalised pathway. 

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