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What is a College?

  • Jessica Stahl

Happy Schools Blog reminds us that, if you're planning to study in an English-speaking country, you're likely to run into the word "college" ... and likely to be confused by its meaning. The word has different meanings in different English-speaking countries.

In the United States, college and university refer to basically the same thing - a degree-granting institute of higher education.

In general, a college is undergraduate-focused, while a university also includes graduate-level studies (master's and PhD programs) and research components (ie: Harvard College is the undergraduate component of Harvard University). But in everyday speech, you'll hear Americans use the word "college" to refer to the level of education after high school. If you're coming to the U.S. for higher education, you can look at schools that are called colleges or universities.

Are there other words or terminology related to studying in the US that are particularly confusing? Either because they have a different meaning in different countries, or because they refer to aspects of the US educational system that don't exist in other countries?