Types of American Institutions of Higher Learning

Posted on March 29, 2016 by Akshay Study Abroad in Applications, Study Abroad


The sheer volume and variety of universities in the USA means that one can be pretty confident of finding a suitable institution in one’s preferred program.

Here are some types of American education institutes of higher learning and their characteristics to help those aiming for a higher education (Master’s/ PhD etc) in the USA.

Public (State) Universities

Public universities in the USA are often called the state universities. They receive some level of public sector funding via the state Government. You may also find them alluded to as public or state colleges or schools. Both “a college” and “a school” refer to a single department or faculty within the universities for instance it may be a law “school” or a “college” of engineering.

State universities are often part of the state university system. This collection of public universities operates separately in different locations of the state but with some shared management and administration.

As state universities are supported by public funding, they usually charge lower tuition fee than private universities; though the actual amount a student pays can vary vastly, especially once a financial aid is considered.


  • Lower Tuition Costs
    Public universities have lower tuition fees compared to those of private universities.
  • Numerous Programs and Majors Offered
    Public colleges offer a number of programs and courses.Students who want a wide choice of majors can find them at public universities.
  • Large Class Size
    At public universities, however, 200 students may be enrolled in some classes, especially in lower-division courses.
  • Prosperous and World-renowned Facilities and Faculties
    Many of the larger universities in the United States are home to state-of-the-art research facilities, science labs, teaching hospitals and libraries.
  • Diverse Student Body
    While smaller private colleges are working hard to recruit a wider variety of students, public universities manage to attract a more diverse and eclectic student body.
  • Competitive Atmosphere
    Large public universities tend to foster and encourage competition.

 Private Universities

Private universities are supported by tuition fees and private donations. Private universities are not operated by governments, although many receive tax breaks, public student loans, and grants. Depending on their location, private universities may be subject to government regulation. This is in contrast to public universities and national universities.


  • Academic Excellence
    At the private university learning is the emphasis more than the curriculum itself.
  • Involved Students
    The classroom dynamic is much different at a private university than at a public school.
  • Top-notch Professors
    Some renowned private universities are home to some topnotch professors.
  • Merit-based Scholarship or Need-based Scholarship
    Since private universities grant merit-based or need-based scholarship what students actually pay for tuition is usually lower despite the listed tuition being the highest at private colleges.

Ivy League

Many students are surprised to find that the Ivy League is actually a sports conference of eight private colleges in the Northeast.  With many founded in colonial times, the Ivy League includes some of the oldest higher education institutions in the US, which are often perceived to be some of the most prestigious and competitive for admissions (average acceptance rates are around 10%).  Ivy League universities include Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University.

(Continued on the next page…….)

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