A college (Latin: collegium) is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a academic degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education, or a secondary school.
In most of the world, a college may be a high school or secondary school, a college of further education, a training institution that awards trade qualifications, a higher-education provider that does not have university status (often without its own degree-awarding powers), or a constituent part of a university. In the United States, a college may offer undergraduate programs – either as an independent institution or as the undergraduate program of a university – or it may be a residential college of a university or a community college, referring to (primarily public) higher education institutions that aim to provide affordable and accessible education, usually limited to two-year . The word is generally also used as a synonym for a university in the US. Oxford English Dictionary, 1891, s.v., definition 4c Colleges in countries such as France, Belgium, and Switzerland provide secondary education.
In Australia the term "college" is applied to any private or independent (non-government) primary and, especially, secondary school as distinct from a state school. Melbourne Grammar School, Cranbrook School, Sydney and The King's School, Parramatta are considered colleges.
There has also been a recent trend to rename or create government secondary schools as "colleges". In the state of Victoria, some state high schools are referred to as secondary colleges, although the pre-eminent government secondary school for boys in Melbourne is still named Melbourne High School. In Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory, "college" is used in the name of all state high schools built since the late 1990s, and also some older ones. In New South Wales, some high schools, especially multi-campus schools resulting from mergers, are known as "secondary colleges". In Queensland some newer schools which accept primary and high school students are styled state college, but state schools offering only secondary education are called "State High School". In Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory, "college" refers to the final two years of high school (years 11 and 12), and the institutions which provide this. In this context, "college" is a system independent of the other years of high school. Here, the expression is a shorter version of matriculation college.
In a number of Canadian cities, many government-run secondary schools are called "collegiates" or "collegiate institutes" (C.I.), a complicated form of the word "college" which avoids the usual "post-secondary" connotation. This is because these secondary schools have traditionally focused on academic, rather than vocational, subjects and ability levels (for example, collegiates offered Latin while vocational schools offered technical courses). Some private secondary schools (such as Upper Canada College, Vancouver College) choose to use the word "college" in their names nevertheless. Private Elementary and Secondary Schools search form on the Ministry of Education of Ontario web site—enter "college" in the "name contains" field and check the "secondary" checkbox Some secondary schools elsewhere in the country, particularly ones within the separate school system, may also use the word "college" or "collegiate" in their names. Find a School or School Board search form on the Ministry of Education of Ontario web site—click "Secondary" and "Separate"
In New Zealand the word "college" normally refers to a secondary school for ages 13 to 17 and "college" appears as part of the name especially of private or integrated schools. "Colleges" most frequently appear in the North Island, whereas "high schools" are more common in the South Island.
In the Netherlands, "college" is equivalent to HBO (Higher professional education). It is oriented towards professional training with clear occupational outlook, unlike universities which are scientifically oriented.
In South Africa, some secondary schools, especially private schools on the English public school model, have "college" in their title. Thus no less than six of South Africa's Elite Seven high schools call themselves "college" and fit this description. A typical example of this category would be St John's College.
Private schools that specialize in improving children's marks through intensive focus on examination needs are informally called "cram-colleges".
In Sri Lanka the word "college" (known as Vidyalaya in Sinhala language) normally refers to a secondary school, which usually signifies above the 5th standard. During the British colonial period a limited number of exclusive secondary schools were established based on English public school model (Royal College Colombo, S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, Trinity College, Kandy) these along with several Catholic schools (St. Joseph's College, Colombo, St Anthony's College) traditionally carry their name as colleges. Following the start of free education in 1931 large group of central colleges were established to educate the rural masses. Since Sri Lanka gained Independence in 1948, many schools that have been established have been named as "college".
In Canada, there is a strong distinction between "college" and "university". In conversation, one specifically would say either "they are going to university" (i.e., studying for a three- or four-year degree at a university) or "they are going to college" (i.e., studying at a technical/career training).
Occasionally, "college" refers to a subject specific faculty within a university that, while distinct, are neither federated nor affiliated—College of Education, College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, College of Biological Science among others.
The Royal Military College of Canada is a military college which trains officers for the Canadian Armed Forces. The institution is a full-fledged university, with the authority to issue graduate degrees, although it continues to word the term college in its name. The institution's sister schools, Royal Military College Saint-Jean also uses the term college in its name, although it academic offering is akin to a CEGEP institution in Quebec. A number of post-secondary art schools in Canada formerly used the word college in their names, despite formally being universities. However, most of these institutions were renamed, or re-branded in the early 21st century, omitting the word college from its name.
Public secular school boards in Ontario also refer to their secondary schools as collegiate institutes. However, usage of the word collegiate institute varies between school boards. Collegiate institute is the predominant name for secondary schools in Lakehead District School Board, and Toronto District School Board, although most school boards in Ontario use collegiate institute alongside high school, and secondary school in the names of their institutions. Similarly, secondary schools in Regina, and Saskatoon are referred to as Collegiate.
Students must pay for college before taking classes. Some borrow the money via loans, and some students fund their educations with cash, scholarships, grants, or some combination of these payment methods. In 2011, the state or federal government subsidized $8,000 to $100,000 for each undergraduate degree. For state-owned schools (called "public" universities), the subsidy was given to the college, with the student benefiting from lower tuition. The state subsidized on average 50% of public university tuition.
Colleges vary in terms of size, degree, and length of stay. Two-year colleges, also known as junior college or community colleges, usually offer an associate degree, and four-year colleges usually offer a bachelor's degree. Often, these are entirely undergraduate institutions, although some have graduate school programs.
Four-year institutions in the U.S. that emphasize a liberal arts curriculum are known as liberal arts colleges. Until the 20th century, liberal arts, law, medicine, theology, and divinity were about the only form of higher education available in the United States. These schools have traditionally emphasized instruction at the undergraduate level, although advanced research may still occur at these institutions.
While there is no national standard in the United States, the term "university" primarily designates institutions that provide undergraduate and graduate education. A university typically has as its core and its largest internal division an undergraduate college teaching a liberal arts curriculum, also culminating in a bachelor's degree. What often distinguishes a university is having, in addition, one or more graduate schools engaged in both teaching graduate classes and in research. Often these would be called a School of Law or School of Medicine, (but may also be called a college of law, or a faculty of law). An exception is Vincennes University, Indiana, which is styled and chartered as a "university" even though almost all of its academic programs lead only to two-year associate degrees. Some institutions, such as Dartmouth College and The College of William & Mary, have retained the term "college" in their names for historical reasons. In one unique case, Boston College and Boston University, the former located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts and the latter located in Boston, Massachusetts, are completely separate institutions.
Usage of the terms varies among the states. In 1996, for example, Georgia changed all of its four-year institutions previously designated as colleges to universities, and all of its technology schools to technical colleges.
The terms "university" and "college" do not exhaust all possible titles for an American institution of higher education. Other options include "institute" (Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Massachusetts Institute of Technology), "academy" (United States Military Academy), "union" (Cooper Union), "conservatory" (New England Conservatory), and "school" (Juilliard School). In colloquial use, they are still referred to as "college" when referring to their undergraduate studies.
The term college is also, as in the United Kingdom, used for a constituent semi-autonomous part of a larger university but generally organized on academic rather than residential lines. For example, at many institutions, the undergraduate portion of the university can be briefly referred to as the college (such as The College of the University of Chicago, Harvard College at Harvard, or Columbia College at Columbia) while at others, such as the University of California, Berkeley, "colleges" are collections of academic programs and other units that share some common characteristics, mission, or disciplinary focus (the "college of engineering", the "college of nursing", and so forth). There exist other variants for historical reasons, including some uses that exist because of mergers and acquisitions; for example, Duke University, which was called Trinity College until the 1920s, still calls its main undergraduate subdivision Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.
Many U.S. universities have placed increased emphasis on their residential colleges in recent years. This is exemplified by the creation of new colleges at Ivy League schools such as Yale University and Princeton University, and efforts to strengthen the contribution of the residential colleges to student education, including through a 2016 taskforce at Princeton on residential colleges.
The leaders of Harvard College (which granted America's first degrees in 1642) might have thought of their college as the first of many residential colleges that would grow up into a New Cambridge university. However, over time, few new colleges were founded there, and Harvard grew and added higher faculties. Eventually, it changed its title to university, but the term "college" had stuck and "colleges" have arisen across the United States.
In U.S. usage, the word "college" not only embodies a particular type of school, but has historically been used to refer to the general concept of higher education when it is not necessary to specify a school, as in "going to college" or "college savings accounts" offered by banks.
In a survey of more than 2,000 college students in 33 states and 156 different campuses, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group found the average student spends as much as $1,200 each year on textbooks and supplies alone. By comparison, the group says that's the equivalent of 39 percent of tuition and fees at a community college, and 14 percent of tuition and fees at a four-year public university.
The act was eventually extended to allow all states that had remained with the Union during the American Civil War, and eventually all states, to establish such institutions. Most of the colleges established under the Morrill Act have since become full universities, and some are among the elite of the world.
In India, the term "college" is commonly reserved for institutions that offer high school diplomas at year 12 (" Junior College", similar to American high schools), and those that offer the bachelor's degree; some colleges, however, offer programmes up to PhD level. Generally, colleges are located in different parts of a state and all of them are affiliated to a regional university. The colleges offer programmes leading to degrees of that university. Colleges may be either Autonomous or non-autonomous. Autonomous Colleges are empowered to establish their own syllabus, and conduct and assess their own examinations; in non-autonomous colleges, examinations are conducted by the university, at the same time for all colleges under its affiliation. There are several hundred universities and each university has affiliated colleges, often a large number.
The first liberal arts and sciences college in India was "Cottayam College" or the "Syrian College", Kerala in 1815. The First inter linguistic residential education institution in Asia was started at this college. At present it is a Theological seminary which is popularly known as Orthodox Theological Seminary or Old Seminary. After that, CMS College, Kottayam, established in 1817, and the Presidency College, Kolkata, also 1817, initially known as Hindu College. The first college for the study of Christian theology and ecumenical enquiry was Serampore College (1818). The first Missionary institution to impart Western style education in India was the Scottish Church College, Calcutta (1830). The first commerce and economics college in India was Sydenham College, Mumbai (1913).
In India a new term has been introduced that is Autonomous Institutes & Colleges. An autonomous Colleges are colleges which need to be affiliated to a certain university. These colleges can conduct their own admission procedure, examination syllabus, fees structure etc. However, at the end of course completion, they cannot issue their own degree or diploma. The final degree or diploma is issued by the affiliated university. Also, some significant changes can pave way under the NEP (New Education Policy 2020) which may affect the present guidelines for universities and colleges.
A state college may not have the word "college" on its name, but may have several component colleges, or departments. Thus, the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology is a state college by classification.
Usually, the term "college" is also thought of as a hierarchical demarcation between the term "university", and quite a number of colleges seek to be recognized as universities as a sign of improvement in academic standards (Colegio de San Juan de Letran, San Beda College), and increase in the diversity of the offered degree programs (called "courses"). For private colleges, this may be done through a survey and evaluation by the Commission on Higher Education and accrediting organizations, as was the case of Urios College which is now the Fr. Saturnino Urios University. For state colleges, it is usually done by a legislation by the Congress or Senate. In common usage, "going to college" simply means attending school for an undergraduate degree, whether it's from an institution recognized as a college or a university.
When it comes to referring to the level of education, college is the term more used to be synonymous to tertiary or higher education. A student who is or has studied his/her undergraduate degree at either an institution with college or university in its name is considered to be going to or have gone to college.
The term "university" is used to describe higher-education institutions offering locally conferred degrees. Institutions offering diplomas are called "polytechnics", while other institutions are often referred to as "institutes" and so forth.
There are number of secondary education institutions that traditionally used the word "college" in their names: these are either older, private schools (such as Belvedere College, Gonzaga College, Castleknock College, and St. Michael's College) or what were formerly a particular kind of secondary school. These secondary schools, formerly known as "technical colleges," were renamed "community colleges," but remain secondary schools.
The country's only ancient university is the University of Dublin. Created during the reign of Elizabeth I, it is modelled on the collegiate universities of Cambridge and Oxford. However, only one constituent college was ever founded, hence the curious position of Trinity College Dublin today; although both are usually considered one and the same, the university and college are completely distinct corporate entities with separate and parallel governing structures.
Among more modern foundations, the National University of Ireland, founded in 1908, consisted of constituent colleges and recognised colleges until 1997. The former are now referred to as constituent universities – institutions that are essentially universities in their own right. The National University can trace its existence back to 1850 and the creation of the Queen's University of Ireland and the creation of the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854. From 1880, the degree awarding roles of these two universities was taken over by the Royal University of Ireland, which remained until the creation of the National University in 1908 and Queen's University Belfast.
The state's two new universities, Dublin City University and University of Limerick, were initially National Institute for Higher Education institutions. These institutions offered university level academic degrees and research from the start of their existence and were awarded university status in 1989 in recognition of this.
Third level technical education in the state has been carried out in the Institutes of Technology, which were established from the 1970s as Regional Technical Colleges. These institutions have delegated authority which entitles them to give degrees and diplomas from Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) in their own names.
A number of private colleges exist such as Dublin Business School, providing undergraduate and postgraduate courses validated by QQI and in some cases by other universities.
Other types of college include colleges of education, such as the Church of Ireland College of Education. These are specialist institutions, often linked to a university, which provide both undergraduate and postgraduate academic degrees for people who want to train as teachers.
A number of state-funded further education colleges exist – which offer vocational education and training in a range of areas from business studies and information and communications technology to sports injury therapy. These courses are usually one, two or less often three years in duration and are validated by QQI at Levels 5 or 6, or for the BTEC Higher National Diploma award, which is a Level 6/7 qualification, validated by Edexcel. There are numerous private colleges (particularly in Dublin and Limerick) which offer both further and higher education qualifications. These degrees and diplomas are often certified by foreign universities/international awarding bodies and are aligned to the National Framework of Qualifications at Levels 6, 7 and 8.
HBO graduates can be awarded two titles, which are Baccalaureus (bc.) and Ingenieur (ing.). At a WO institution, many more bachelor's and master's titles can be awarded. Bachelor's degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BSc) and Bachelor of Laws (LLB). Master's degrees: Master of Arts (MA), Master of Laws (LLM) and Master of Science (MSc). The PhD title is a research degree awarded upon completion and defense of a doctoral thesis.
Until the 19th century, a colégio was usually a secondary or pre-university school, of public or religious nature, where the students usually lived together. A model for these colleges was the Royal College of Arts and Humanities, founded in Coimbra by King John III of Portugal in 1542.
In England, , over 60% of the higher education providers directly funded by HEFCE (208/340) are sixth-form or further education colleges, often termed colleges of further and higher education, along with 17 colleges of the University of London, one university college, 100 universities, and 14 other providers (six of which use 'college' in their name). Overall, this means over two-thirds of state-supported higher education providers in England are colleges of one form or another. Many private providers are also called colleges, e.g. the New College of the Humanities and St Patrick's College, London.
Colleges within universities vary immensely in their responsibilities. The large constituent colleges of the University of London are effectively universities in their own right; colleges in some universities, including those of the University of the Arts London and smaller colleges of the University of London, run their own degree courses but do not award degrees; those at the University of Roehampton provide accommodation and pastoral care as well as delivering the teaching on university courses; those at Oxford and Cambridge deliver some teaching on university courses as well as providing accommodation and pastoral care; and those in Durham, Kent, Lancaster and York provide accommodation and pastoral care but do not normally participate in formal teaching. The legal status of these colleges also varies widely, with University of London colleges being independent corporations and recognised bodies, Oxbridge colleges, colleges of the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI) and some Durham colleges being independent corporations and listed bodies, most Durham colleges being owned by the university but still listed bodies, and those of other collegiate universities not having formal recognition. When applying for undergraduate courses through UCAS, University of London colleges are treated as independent providers, colleges of Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and UHI are treated as locations within the universities that can be selected by specifying a 'campus code' in addition to selecting the university, and colleges of other universities are not recognised.
The UHI and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD) both include further education colleges. However, while the UHI colleges integrate FE and HE provision, UWTSD maintains a separation between the university campuses (Lampeter, Carmarthen and Swansea) and the two colleges ( Coleg Sir Gâr and Coleg Ceredigion; n.b. coleg is Welsh language for college), which although part of the same group are treated as separate institutions rather than colleges within the university.
A university college is an independent institution with the power to award taught degrees, but which has not been granted university status. University College is a protected title that can only be used with permission, although note that University College London, University College, Oxford and University College, Durham are colleges within their respective universities and not university colleges (in the case of UCL holding full degree awarding powers that set it above a university college), while University College Birmingham is a university in its own right and also not a university college.
Referring to parts of a university, there are residential colleges which provide residence for students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, called university colleges. These colleges often provide additional tutorial assistance, and some host theology study. Many colleges have strong traditions and rituals, so are a combination of dormitory style accommodation and fraternity or sorority culture.
Most technical and further education institutions (), which offer certificate and diploma vocational courses, are styled "TAFE colleges" or "Colleges of TAFE". In some places, such as Tasmania, college refers to a type of school for Year 11 and 12 students, e.g. Don College.
Some universities, such as the University of Canterbury, have divided their university into constituent administrative "Colleges" – the College of Arts containing departments that teach Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science containing Science departments, and so on. This is largely modelled on the Cambridge model, discussed above.
Like the United Kingdom some professional bodies in New Zealand style themselves as "colleges", for example, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the Royal Australasian College of Physicians.
In some parts of the country, secondary school is often referred to as college and the term is used interchangeably with high school. This sometimes confuses people from other parts of New Zealand. But in all parts of the country many secondary schools have "College" in their name, such as Rangitoto College, New Zealand's largest secondary.