Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

A college (Latin: collegium) is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a 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 associate degrees.[1] The word is generally also used as a synonym for a university in the US.[2] Colleges in countries such as France, Belgium, and Switzerland provide secondary education


The "red siminar", a college building pictured in the coat of arms of Nuuk,[3] the capital city of Greenland

The word "college" is from the

chantry chapels; modern survivals include the Royal College of Surgeons in England (originally the Guild of Surgeons Within the City of London), the College of Arms in London (a body of heralds enforcing heraldic law), an electoral college (to elect representatives), etc., all groups of persons "selected in common" to perform a specified function and appointed by a monarch, founder or other person in authority. As for the modern "college of education", it was a body created for that purpose, for example Eton College was founded in 1440 by letters patent of King Henry VI for the constitution of a college of Fellows, priests, clerks, choristers, poor scholars, and old poor men, with one master or governor, whose duty it shall be to instruct these scholars and any others who may resort thither from any part of England in the knowledge of letters, and especially of grammar, without payment".[6]


Higher education

King's College London, established by a Royal Charter in 1829, is one of the founding colleges of the University of London

Within higher education, the term can be used to refer to:[7]

Further education



Secondary education

Scotch College, Melbourne, an independent secondary school in Australia

In some national education systems, secondary schools may be called "colleges" or have "college" as part of their title.

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

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.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11]

St John's College, Johannesburg, a boys' school in South Africa

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".


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".[citation needed


As well as an educational institution, the term, in accordance with its etymology, may also refer to any formal group of colleagues set up under statute or regulation; often under a Royal Charter. Examples include an

college of canons, and the College of Cardinals. Other collegiate bodies include professional associations, particularly in medicine and allied professions. In the UK these include the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Physicians. Examples in the United States include the American College of Physicians, the American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Dentists. An example in Australia is the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

College by country

The different ways in which the term "College" is used to describe educational institutions in various regions of the world is listed below:



In Canadian English, the term "college" usually refers to a trades school, applied arts/science/technology/business/health school or community college. These are post-secondary institutions granting certificates, diplomas, associate degrees and (in some cases) bachelor's degrees. The French acronym specific to public institutions within Quebec’s particular system of pre-university and technical education is CEGEP (Collège d'enseignement général et professionnel, "college of general and professional education"). They are collegiate-level institutions that a student typically enrols in if they wish to continue onto university in the Quebec education system,[note 1] or to learn a trade. In Ontario and Alberta, there are also institutions that are designated university colleges, which only grant undergraduate degrees. This is to differentiate between universities, which have both undergraduate and graduate programs and those that do not.

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).[12]

Usage in a university setting

The term college also applies to distinct entities that formally act as an affiliated institution of the university, formally referred to as

Sir Wilfred Grenfell College

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[13] among others.


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.

Usage in secondary education

The word college continues to be used in the names public

independent schools across Canada also use the word college in its name.[15]

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.


In Chile, the term "college" is usually used in the name of some bilingual schools, like Santiago College, Saint George's College etc. Since 2009 the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile incorporated college as a bachelor's degree, it has a Bachelor of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, a Bachelor of Social Science and a Bachelor of Arts and Humanities. It has the same system as the American universities, it combines majors and minors. And it let the students continue a higher degree in the same university once finished.

United States

In the United States, there were 5,916 post-secondary institutions (universities and colleges) as of 2020–21, having peaked at 7,253 in 2012–13 and fallen every year since.[16] A "college" in the US can refer to a constituent part of a university (which can be a residential college, the sub-division of the university offering undergraduate courses, or a school of the university offering particular specialized courses), an independent institution offering bachelor's-level courses, or an institution offering instruction in a particular professional, technical or vocational field.[17] In popular usage, the word "college" is the generic term for any post-secondary undergraduate education. Americans "go to college" after high school, regardless of whether the specific institution is formally a college or a university. Some students choose to dual-enroll, by taking college classes while still in high school. The word and its derivatives are the standard terms used to describe the institutions and experiences associated with American post-secondary undergraduate education.

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.[18][19] The state subsidized on average 50% of public university tuition.[20]

Colleges vary in terms of size, degree, and length of stay. Two-year colleges, also known as

graduate school

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.[21]
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

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 vocational 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" (

). 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

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

Residential colleges

Some American universities, such as Princeton, Rice, and Yale have established residential colleges (sometimes, as at Harvard, the first to establish such a system in the 1930s, known as houses) along the lines of Oxford or Cambridge.[22] Unlike the Oxbridge colleges, but similarly to Durham, these residential colleges are not autonomous legal entities nor are they typically much involved in education itself, being primarily concerned with room, board, and social life.[23] At the University of Michigan, University of California, San Diego and the University of California, Santa Cruz, each residential college teaches its own core writing courses and has its own distinctive set of graduation requirements.

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[24] and Princeton University,[25] and efforts to strengthen the contribution of the residential colleges to student education, including through a 2016 taskforce at Princeton on residential colleges.[26]

Origin of the U.S. usage

The founders of the first institutions of higher education in the United States were graduates of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. The small institutions they founded would not have seemed to them like universities – they were tiny and did not offer the higher degrees in medicine and theology. Furthermore, they were not composed of several small colleges. Instead, the new institutions felt like the Oxford and Cambridge colleges they were used to – small communities, housing and feeding their students, with instruction from residential tutors (as in the United Kingdom, described above). When the first students graduated, these "colleges" assumed the right to confer degrees upon them, usually with authority—for example,

The College of William & Mary has a royal charter from the British monarchy allowing it to confer degrees while Dartmouth College
has a charter permitting it to award degrees "as are usually granted in either of the universities, or any other college in our realm of Great Britain."

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.[27]

Morrill Land-Grant Act

SUNY Purchase College