What Is a University?

A university provides postsecondary education for students, primarily at the bachelor's and graduate degree levels. Universities enable students to develop intellectually and socially while earning a degree and preparing for a career.

Overview of Universities

A university is an organization that provides higher learning to individuals and promotes knowledge and discovery. Universities can grant academic degrees, including bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; many universities also offer undergraduate and graduate certificate programs. Since universities are 4-year institutions, they don't usually offer 2-year associate's degree programs.

Important Facts about Universities

Prerequisites GPA, class rank, test scores, school-specific course and field work
Degrees/Certificates Undergraduate and Graduate (master's and doctorate degrees)
Online Availability Yes, for bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees
Continuing Education Certificates and non-credit courses are offered as a way for professionals to advance, change, or refocus their career paths and assist organizations in further growth

Learning at a University

A university enables students and professors to learn from each other. Students gain knowledge and skills through experiences in and out of the classroom, from attending lectures and readings to completing internships and clinical rotations. In addition to courses, universities offer campus-wide educational events, such as seminars and guest speakers, to enrich students' learning.

Research at a University

Universities encourage students to question ideas and assumptions and then conduct research to find an alternative answer or solution. Many graduate programs at universities have heavy research components, and opportunities to contribute to or conduct research are common for undergraduates as well.

Characteristics of Universities vs. Colleges

Although the terms 'university' and 'college' are sometimes used interchangeably in casual speech, these two institution types are actually quite different. For instance, universities usually have a college of liberal arts, a college of science and professional schools, such as medicine, law and engineering. Colleges, on the other hand, typically focus on one area, like liberal arts.

Universities also differ from colleges in the degrees they award. Universities can grant undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees, whereas most colleges focus on undergraduate study. Additionally, universities are larger and enroll more students.

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

  • George Mason University

    George Mason University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at George Mason University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Georgetown University

    Georgetown University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Georgetown University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • American University

    American University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at American University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University

    Purdue University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • The George Washington University

    The George Washington University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at The George Washington University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Judson University

    Judson University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Judson University:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees
    • Associate Programs

    Online Programs Available

  • Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Johns Hopkins University:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Brightwood College

    Brightwood College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Brightwood College:

    • Associate Programs
    • Certificates

    Campus Locations:

    • Maryland: Baltimore, Beltsville, Towson
  • Saint John's University

    Saint John's University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint John's University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

    Saint Mary's University of Minnesota responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota:

    • Master
    • Bachelor Degrees

    Online Programs Available

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