Types of Colleges Defined

Succeeding in college starts with finding a college that’s right for you. To that end, colleges take on many different forms and offer many different experiences. Each type of college has its own strengths, and no one type is better than another. It all depends on what you need and what fits you best. To help you decide, here is a brief explanation of the different types of colleges you may encounter.

College: Any degree-granting institution offering post-high school, undergraduate education. Colleges typically award either a bachelor’s of arts or a bachelor’s of science degree, but they may also offer different types of degrees. Some two-year colleges offer associate’s degrees. Some specialty colleges award training certifications. Colleges may be located on several acres of campus with a large staff and many buildings, or they may exist solely online.

University: A degree-granting institute of higher education that also offers master’s- and doctorate-level degrees.

Community college: Offers two-year associate’s degrees, perhaps some four-year bachelor’s degrees and specialty training and certification programs.

Nonprofit college: Most colleges are nonprofit organizations. This means that, public or private, the institution does not seek to make money in excess of their expenses.

For-profit and proprietary colleges and universities: These institutions typically cater to students seeking specialized training and older students. The education and training you receive at a for-profit college may be equal to that of a nonprofit college. There are no restrictions or limitations on what courses or areas of study a proprietary school may offer. Often, however, proprietary colleges focus on non-traditional students, like adults returning to college, and specialized areas of education and training, such as video game design or culinary training. These colleges also seek to make money from their programs.

Online university: A university that offers online classes only. While the school may have infrastructure located in buildings, students do not attend classes in a typical brick-and-mortar classroom.

Public college: Any college or university that is funded by a government at any level. Students still must pay tuition, but because the college receives money from the state, tuition may be significantly lower for students from the state compared to private colleges.

Private college: Any college or university that is funded primarily through tuition, fees and private donations.

Liberal Arts college: The modern liberal arts are: Literature, languages, philosophy, history, mathematics, science and theology. Liberal arts colleges emphasize these areas in their classes and degrees offered. These colleges are great choices if your interest is in one of these areas, but they typically don’t offer the technical majors, such as engineering or architecture.

Specialized degree colleges: There are skill-minded colleges that may offer only one area of study, such as nursing or architecture. These colleges are a good choice if you have a clear idea of what you want to study, but they offer fewer options if you change your mind.

Cultural colleges: Many colleges specialize in providing education to students with a particular background. There are the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and colleges like the National Hispanic University. Many Native-American tribes have their own colleges. Some of these colleges have cultural restrictions on acceptance, and others are open to all applicants.

Faith-based colleges: Whatever your religious faith, there is probably a college affiliated with your belief. Most colleges with a religious affiliation provide traditional college offerings and are open to all students. Some of these institutions, such as Bible colleges and Rabbinical schools, offer specific training for leadership roles in a religion.

Now that you know a little more about what you’re looking for, let Cappex help you find your perfect college match.