Navigating the post-secondary world can be daunting but below are some basics to help get you started. Please visit the College Glossary page for more information as well.
Types of Post-Secondary Institutions: The Basics
Two-year colleges- Often referred to as a community college or a junior college, two-year colleges provide two year diplomas, certificates and degrees. These institutions are often less expensive than a 4-year college. Some students will begin at a two year college and then transfer to a four year university to complete their bachelor's degree while others will complete the required education for the career of their choice within the two years.
Four-year colleges & universities- Four year colleges offer bachelor's degrees, which are typically completed in four years of full-time study. Some four year colleges also offer graduate programs that offer Master's and Doctoral degrees. These institutions include private and public schools and include universities and liberal arts colleges.
Public and private colleges- Public colleges are funded by local and state governments while private colleges rely mainly on tuition, fees, and private sources of funding.
Liberal arts colleges- These colleges offer a broad base of courses with an emphasis in the liberal arts and sciences. Typically these institutions aim to impart broad general knowledge with a broad range of skills in contrast to a vocational or technical curriculum.
Universities- Often larger institutions that offer bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.
Career and Trade Schools- Career and technical colleges offer certificates, diplomas and associate degrees in a variety of fields. The length of education will depend on the program of choice. These programs focus on a specific trade and are a great option for those students who want to enter the work force quickly.
For-profit colleges- Businesses that typically offer a variety of degree programs that prepare students for a specific career. Credits earned may not transfer to other colleges and costs could be higher.
Some colleges also focus on a specific interest or student population. Examples include arts colleges, single-sex colleges, and religiously affiliated colleges.