Types of Colleges in the United States

The United States offers a variety of higher education venues for students to choose from. These schools offer a selection of degrees at various levels, from a simple certificate to a doctorate in psychology.

Universities are known as the highest level of any educational institution. They typically have one or more undergraduate colleges, in addition to graduate and professional level schools.

To help us understand the difference in the study levels and degrees available at a university, we need to understand what they consist of. Undergraduate studies usually consist of earning a bachelor’s degree, which typically requires four years of study in a particular subject. Graduate level studies consist of earning a master’s degree. The completion time for this degree is usually six years, four years for the undergraduate plus another two years for the master’s. Professional level studies consist of earning a doctoral degree. The completion time for this degree varies from six to 10 years, depending on one’s specialty. This study time is in addition to the four required for an undergraduate degree.

For instance, University of Michigan has a medical school, a business school, and a music school. These are all separate colleges located within the University. As defined by the Webster dictionary,

A. “A college is any of the schools of a university granting degrees in any of several specialized or professional courses of study.

B. “A college is a division of a university which offers a general four-year course leading to a bachelor’s degree.”

Another type of college available in the U.S. is known as a specialized college. These are schools that offer instruction in a particular occupation. For instance, an example of a specialized college is a business college where students only learn business; there is no general studies program. As a result, these specialized colleges typically do not offer four-year degrees. Instead, they may offer what is known as a certification. Programs do vary, but many can be completed in as little as six months.

Community colleges are another type of college found in the United States. Community colleges generally offer students the opportunity to earn their first two years of study necessary to transfer to a university. Upon completing their first two years of study, students earn what is called an associate’s degree. There is one thing to watch out for when earning this degree, however. Be certain that the community college you are studying at will be able to allow you to transfer your educational credits to another college. Some do not.

This article touches on what is available regarding the types of colleges in the U.S. Obtaining a higher education, at any level, requires determination and hard work. Stick with it and you will reap the benefits.

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