What Are 4-Year Schools?

Four-year schools include both colleges and universities. These institutions offer bachelor's degree programs, which typically take four years to complete; in some cases, they also offer graduate and professional programs.

Cost of a 4-Year Education

The cost to attend a 4-year school can vary greatly by institution. Some factors that figure in to tuition and fees include the type of school you plan to attend (public vs. private) as well as your residency status (in-state vs. out-of-state), if you choose a public school.

Important Facts About These Schools

Programs Internships are offered in areas such as visual arts, human development, applied management, and professional writing
Possible Careers With a bachelor's degree, one can get a job as a market research analyst, construction manager, accountant, computer software engineer, or school teacher, just to name a few.
Prerequisites A requisite number of high school English, social studies, history, science, and language courses and a minimum SAT/ACT score
Common Courses Typically philosophy, culture, communication, and political science

4-Year Schools Defined

Public and private colleges and universities typically award 4-year bachelor's degrees, such as the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science, in a variety of academic areas. They also might offer undergraduate diplomas and certificates, as well as 2-year associate's degrees. Additionally, universities - and some colleges - feature graduate-level programming, including master's and doctoral degrees, graduate certificates and, in some cases, professional degrees in fields like law and medicine.

Makeup of a 4-Year School

A 4-year school is typically composed of various colleges or schools, such as the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Engineering or School of Education. Within each college, there are departments. For example, within the College of Engineering, you might find departments in civil and mechanical engineering. A 4-year school also might have professional colleges or schools, such as a law school or School of Medicine. Most 4-year schools have a Department of Continuing (or Extended) Education and an online or eLearning department that offers degrees and courses remotely. The table below details average 2015-2016 tuition and fees for full-time undergraduate students at 4-year schools, based on a study of published charges by College Board.

Type of SchoolAverage Tuition and Fees (2015-2016)
Public 4-year, in-state$9,410
Public 4-year, out-of-state$23,893
Private 4-year, nonprofit $32,405

Source: College Board

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