Size matters when it comes to higher education. That’s generally true when choosing between colleges and universities. Although the term “college” is used broadly to refer to post-secondary education in the U.S., it’s more narrowly defined as a smaller institution than a large university. It also may be one of several colleges within a university system. There are exceptions, however, such as Boston College, Dartmouth College and the College of William & Mary, which hold university status but prefer to retain the “college” designation in their names.
But there are other differences that set the two types of institutions apart. Unlike universities, which offer both undergraduate and graduate study programs, colleges primarily confer bachelor’s degrees and often don’t award advanced degrees. Class, campus and enrollment sizes are relatively smaller, which can be preferable for students who seek more intimate social settings and more focused attention from instructors. In the absence of research programs and facilities typically present at universities, many colleges also compete with more specialized areas of instruction, such as technical or agricultural colleges.