College vs. University: Dumb Question?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by me again, Nov 23, 2001.

  1. me again

    me again Well-Known Member

    In the United States, is there a legitimate difference between a college and a university when they both offer bachelors and masters degrees?
  2. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Perhaps some people hold that perception, but in practice, no. Traditionally, a college was a subset of a university. But in the U.S., many schools meeting the definition of a university call themselves colleges. (The reverse is also true.) And there are many stand-alone schools that would not meet the definition of a university, but are free-standing and award their own degrees. The difference between these terms has become blurred.

    Many colleges "universitized" themselves over the years. San Diego State and Chapman are two in California. Antioch in Ohio is another. Then we have Touro International University, a division of Touro College. Go figure.

    Many overseas students are reluctant to attend U.S. colleges because, in their home countries, a college is considered inferior to a university--possibly not awarding degrees at all. Colleges are often used for professional training (nurses, teachers, etc.).

    In the U.S., the presige of the school is more important than whether it calls itself a college or a university. But all things being equal, some people might prefer the more distinguished-sounding "university."

    Just some rambling thoughts....

    Rich Douglas
  3. Gus Sainz

    Gus Sainz New Member

    You will still find many colleges within a university, such as the College of
    Architecture within Texas A&M University, College of Business Administration within New Mexico State University, etc.

    You will also find a few institutions that label their distance education programs as University College, such as the University of Maryland University College, and the University College at Roger Williams University.

    Just be extremely leery of someone calling themselves College and University.

    Gus Sainz
  4. Bruce

    Bruce Moderator

    Rich & Gus have pretty much nailed it. An interesting thing, my sister-in-law is a graduate of Harvard, both undergrad & the graduate business school. She insists that her undergrad degree is from Harvard *College*, not Harvard University. I guess there is a difference somewhere, but I've never has the chance to quiz her as to what it is.

    And, as Steve Levicoff has pointed out, Dartmouth College has not & probably never will "upgrade" to a university. As he says, when you're that good, names are just semantics.

  5. John Bear

    John Bear Senior Member

    Bruce: "And, as Steve Levicoff has pointed out, Dartmouth College has not & probably never will "upgrade" to a university"

    I hadn't look at their website for quite a while. Intriguingly, the word "College" hardly appears. It is simply "Darthmouth," page after page. They may not be heading toward becoming a university, but they certainly seem to be downplaying being a college. (
  6. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Harvard University started out as Harvard College.

    Rich Douglas, a graduate of neither.
  7. PSalmon

    PSalmon New Member

    Harvard College is a college of Harvard University -- and the one from which most undergraduates receive their degrees. Similarly, Columbia University has Columbia College.
  8. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Yes, was founded as Harvard College. It "universitized" itself later.

    Rich Douglas
  9. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    It would be interesting to hear from representatives of both Boston University and Boston College. Both are big name schools (at least in New England), both have big time graduate programs in virtually every discipline. BC has a Law School and I'm pretty sure BU has a Medical School, etc, etc. I'd imagine that the BC people would make a pretty strong argument that BC was in no way "less than" BU and BU would certainly make a similar claim.

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