Know the Differences

There are many types of colleges and universities and it is important to know the differences when choosing the school that is best for you.

For starters, it is important to realize the difference between two-year and four-year colleges.

A two-year college is a community college or trade school. At a two-year college, students typically learn a specific trade or take general education courses that will transfer to a four-year college. Two-year colleges typically cost less than four-year colleges. Two-year college graduates earn an Associate Degree.

A four-year school is a traditional college or university. Students take general education courses as well as courses specific to their major. Four-year schools can be public or private. Students who graduate from a four-year school earn a Bachelor’s Degree

College or University- What’s The Difference?

A college is typically a smaller school that does not have a graduate school (i.e., Master’s or Doctorate degree programs). Colleges are often private and may be specialized, such as a women’s only college, or a religious college.

A university is usually a larger school made up of many smaller colleges (i.e., School of Nursing, School of Education, School of Engineering, etc.). Universities offer graduate degrees (i.e., Masters or Doctorate) and may be heavily focused on research.


Types of Colleges and Universities

Public College or University:  Public colleges or universities are funded by the government, typically the state government. They offer reduced tuition and fees for in-state students. (Examples:  University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Tennessee, Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, NC State University, East Tennessee State University).

Private College or University:  A private school is privately funded. Private schools typically cost more than public schools but an overwhelming majority of students receive scholarships and financial aid. Private schools still meet state and federal guidelines to ensure academic accreditation. Many religious schools are private. (Examples:  Duke University, Furman, Davidson, Wofford, Southern Wesleyan University, Presbyterian College). 

Liberal Arts College or University:  A liberal arts school introduces students to multiple disciplines instead of a specific career path. Students at liberal arts schools take classes in the humanities, arts, social sciences, math, and natural sciences. The emphasis is on a broad education and exposure to many ideas and schools of thought. They prepare students for a wide variety of careers or graduate studies. Liberal arts schools are both public and private. (Examples:  University of North Carolina at Asheville, Davidson, Warren Wilson, Washington and Lee, University of the South, Meredith College)

Technical or Engineering College or University:  These types of schools specifically focus on applied science and mathematics and offer their students a focused career path. They are often referred to as an Institute of Technology or Polytechnic Institute. (Examples:  Georgia Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, California Institute of Technology)

Art School:  This is a specialized school focused on the Arts- visual, performing, creative, music. Students can specialize in painting, music, sculpture, writing, theatre, and much more. Most art colleges are private. (Examples:  The Savannah College of Art and Design, Columbus College of Art and Design)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs):  These schools were founded before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the purpose of providing higher education for African American students. Today, these schools admit students of all races, however, the majority of students are African American. (Examples:  Howard University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Fisk University, North Carolina A&T State University, Tuskegee University)


Unraveled Futures

Do you need help choosing a school that is right for you? Let Unraveled Futures help.

Contact us today so we can work together tomorrow.

Susan Ray