Explore All Higher Education Options: Types of Colleges

A four-year university isn’t the only option available for you — there are many types of schools depending on your education needs.

Colleges and universities are as diverse as the students who attend them. Narrowing your college search often begins with deciding which type of college is right for your career goals and academic needs.

Whether your end goal is a bachelor’s degree, certificate program, an advanced master’s degree like an MBA, or any of a variety of other degrees, educating yourself about the types of colleges will help you find the one that’s right for you.

Certification programs allow students to complete training in accelerated programs and start their careers more quickly than they could at a traditional four-year college.

Four-Year Colleges and Universities

Traditional colleges and universities typically offer four-year bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorate degrees. Courses and majors are diverse and often allow students to specialize in certain fields of study. The majority of colleges universities boast a vibrant campus environment, with students either living on campus in dormitories or just off campus in nearby apartments. Many 4-year colleges offer some online degrees, though the majority of classes are typically taken on campus.

Both public and private universities are available. Public universities are funded by the state, while private schools are not. This generally means public universities are more affordable, particularly for residents of the state where that university is located. It does not necessarily say anything negative about the quality of the education or the facilities at a public school. There are plenty of public universities that are well-funded and have state-of-the-art facilities and top-of-the-line instructors. Find a Four-Year College and University

Junior or Community College

At junior and community colleges, certifications and 2-year associate’s degrees are generally offered. These colleges may also serve as a more affordable way to complete coursework in preparation for a transfer to a bachelor’s program at a four-year college. Students may find college programs at a community college more flexible than at a four-year university. In addition, students may use the broader course focus offered by community colleges to help refine their intended career goals. Find a Community College

Career Colleges

For individuals seeking specific training in a trade or technical skill, career colleges are an excellent option. Certification programs allow students to complete training in accelerated programs and start their careers more quickly than they could at a traditional four-year college. Depending on the school, students may be able to find college programs that allow completion of certification requirements in 12 to 18 months. Find a Career College

Graduate Schools

These schools are often part of larger four-year colleges and universities. Once you complete a bachelor’s degree, you can continue your education with an advanced degree, such as a master’s degree, doctorate degree, law degree, MBA or medical degree. Find a Graduate School

Religious Affiliated Schools

Many private colleges and universities are affiliated with specific religions. These types of colleges are similar to traditional four-year universities, but may incorporate religious beliefs into a student’s social or academic life. Find a Religious Affiliated School

Distance Learning at Online Schools

Online degree programs offer maximum flexibility by allowing students to complete coursework through online classes. Correspondences courses and online classrooms both allow students to take as many or as few classes as desired at a given time. You can choose to take all online classes and earn an online degree, and you’ll also find that many colleges and universities offer online degree programs as part of their regular programs. Find an Online School

Military Academies

Colleges like West Point offer college degrees with an emphasis on military discipline. These military academies may be either government-funded or privately funded. Though enrollment in these universities is highly selective, students enjoy the benefit of no tuition payments. Attendance in a prep school and/or ROTC programs in high school can improve chances for admittance. Find a Military School

Quick Facts

  • You can narrow your search for colleges even more at Campus Explorer. When you’re doing a college search at Campus Explorer, search by school type to narrow your results further.
  • Interested in studying overseas? Go to BrainTrack for a list of international college websites, grouped by country.
  • Still not sure what type of school is right for you? Learn more about the careers you’re interested in and then find out what type of education is required.

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