What Is a College Catalog?

A college catalog is packed with information that will make your college experience easier. Though each school's catalog contains slightly different information, most include details about the school itself, financial aid, degree requirements and even course descriptions. They are easily available on most school websites.

Purpose of a College Catalog

Catalogs provide information about a college or university for prospective students and those already enrolled at the school. You can compare information about the different schools you're interested in attending by browsing various catalogs. An institution's catalog can often encompasses all the information you need to know about living and learning at the school of your choice, so it can help streamline your college or degree research process. Students already attending a college or university can use the catalog to choose courses and plan schedules for coming semesters.

Post-Secondary Education Comparison Chart and Important Catalog Information

Trade Schools 2-year Community College 4-year College or University
Degrees offered Licensure or certificate for specific careers Associate's degree and/or certificate for specific careers, often in technical/health fields Bachelor's degree (some universities offer licensing for teachers or other careers that require a four year degree and certificate)
Certification Certificates offered in health, technical, and other trade-based careers like cosmetology and construction. Schools ensure that students are nationally or state certified in their field before graduation, if required State or national certification available for health and technical programs, depending on the school Some universities offer undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in various fields, including marketing, teaching, management and accounting. Look into specific schools for their list of certificate programs
Common Courses Courses are catered to the skills necessary for your specific career. This can include reading, writing, and math classes Focus on general education courses, which often include introductory math, science, writing, and politics/history classes General education requirements vary by school but typically include introductory math, science, writing, and politics/history classes. Final years of the degree focus on courses that are specific for your major, or prepare the student for graduate school
On-the-Job Training Schools often have job sites that students visit as part of their program, and facilities for on-site training Some schools have on-the-job training, depending on the program Teaching and other certificate programs will likely include on-the-job training. Many universities also allow students to intern at businesses related to their career for credit
Typical Cost Schools costs vary, but are rarely more than $33,000 for your degree. Many program costs range between $14,000 - $20,000, and offer financial aid For in-district students, average cost is $3,347 a year Costs vary widely depending on the university. Public universities are less expensive, an average of $9,139 a year for in-state students and $22,958 a year for out-of-state students. Private universities cost an average of $31,231 a year for all students, but can be much higher or lower depending on the institution

Information Available in a College Catalog

The information in college catalogs changes as degree programs, school rules and students' expectations change. These changes make the catalog just as useful to current students as it is to new students. Catalogs are usually published every year, so make sure you're using the most current version. Specific topics covered include:

  • Overview of the college's history
  • Availability of financial aid and specific financial aid programs
  • Academic expectations
  • Degree programs and course descriptions
  • Tuition, housing and meals
  • Campus life information
  • Statement of faith for religious universities
  • School policies and student services offered

Finding College Catalogs

Most colleges give students access to the catalog on the school website. Some schools choose not to make their catalogs available online, and to receive these, you must mail in a request form. In addition, you may be able to pick up a printed copy on campus.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

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