Community College and University in the US: The Difference

Community College vs. University in the U.S.

The use of the term “community college” differs across the world. In the United States, community colleges are specific higher educational institutions that provide low-level tertiary and workforce education, as well as preliminary education for further university studies. It is important to stress the fact that a community college is different from a university.

What Exactly is the Difference Between a Community College and a University in the United States?

For starters, community colleges in the U.S. are sometimes referred to as city colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, or two-year colleges. These higher educational institutions provide low-level tertiary education, thus granting their graduates with certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees.

The main difference between a community college and a university centers on the fact that the former is a low-level higher educational institution while the latter is a high education institution that grants undergraduate degrees, specifically bachelor’s degree, and in most cases, graduate degrees such as master’s degrees and doctorate degrees.

Another difference between the two is the length of education. Diploma or associate degree programs provided by community colleges would take at most two years to complete while certifications could be complete as early as six months. Note that many community colleges also offer a limited number of four0year degrees.

The composition and quality of the faculty is another difference. Most lecturers in community colleges are part-timers, and some of them only have an undergraduate degree. On the other hand, universities require their lecturers to possess at least a master’s degree, and they have rigorous residency programs that advance lecturers to associate professorship and further to actual professorship.

Nevertheless, while most students enrolled in community colleges would eventually pursue careers in the workforce after their graduate, some would eventually transfer to a university to complete their chosen undergraduate.

A number of students often pursue two-year associate degrees from community colleges rather than heading straight to universities after finishing high school for financial reasons. Thus, additional differences between a community college and a university are cost and admission. Community colleges are considerably cheaper and have open-enrollment policies.

It is financially wiser to pursue first a two-year degree after completion of high school education. Note that universities are inherently expensive. Costs include standard matriculation fees, as well as housing or dormitories, daily sustenance, and other relevant living expenses.

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