College vs. University

Penn State Campus
Pedestrians pass by the Old Main administration building on Penn State’s University Park campus Friday, Nov. 18, in State College, Pa. Days after losing the job he held for nearly a half century, former Penn State coach Joe Paterno was diagnosed with a treatable form of lung cancer on Friday. (AP Photo/Andy Colwell)

The terms “college” and “university” are often used interchangeably. So, are they really different? The difference is much more apparent in other countries, but in the United States there is not many major divisions.

Colleges tend to be smaller and offer more personalized attention (this IS a generalization). Universities on the other hand tend to serve more students, be less individualized, offer masters and/or doctoral degrees, and may even be comprised of a variety of colleges (like a School of Business, College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, etc.).

Saying the wrong name won’t typically lead to confusion (because honestly most people don’t know the difference themselves), just be respectful of the “title” of a given school and keep in mind that the difference may be more apparent outside of the United States.