In the US, there are two main types of higher academic institutions:
Universities : Universities are academic institutions that offer a wide array of undergraduate, graduate as well as doctoral programs. Most researches are done at the Universities. US Universities are generally very big and sometimes have more than 25,000 students enrolled.
Colleges : Colleges typically offer occupational educational programs (which lead to associate degrees) along with undergraduate programs and graduate programs. However, in most Colleges doctoral programs are not offered. Compared to universities, colleges are relatively smaller. Public colleges commonly are called Community colleges.
A particular university / college has some departments associated with the academic program it offered. These departments are called as Colleges or Schools. For example, the department of Business may be either called as College of Business or School of Business. Similarly, the engineering department may be called as College of Engineering or School of Engineering. The nomenclature depends on the University. However, the college / school administer the degree programs pertaining to their particular field of study.
As it is in many other countries, the US has private as well as public academic institutions. In this section we will only discuss the US higher academic institutions (colleges and universities).
Public institutions : The public institutions are financially supported by the Federal as well as the State government. Hence, most public universities are also called as State universities.
Private institutions : The private institutions are financially supported by private donors (mostly from alumni), investments, research contracts and student tuition.
Comparison between Public and Private institutions:
Typically, the private institutions are costlier compared to public institutions because private institutions do not depend on the government support. However, cost should not be the only factor in deciding where to study as both private and public colleges and universities give equal importance to the quality of education, hire quality faculty and have well-equipped computer and research labs.
- Public universities charge two types of tuitions: in-state tuition and out-of-state tuition. Students residing in particular state pay in-state tuition for colleges / universities in that state, while students from outside of the state (including international students) pay out-of-state tuition. In-state tuition is always less than out-of-state tuition. Private universities typically do not differentiate between in-state and out-of-state students. They charge the same for all students. However, some of them do. You should check with the respected colleges / universities.
- We have also noted that chances of getting scholarships / assistantships are typically higher in public universities as compared to private universities. However, since typically more students go to public universities, the competition to get a scholarship in public universities is tighter too