Types of higher education institutions in the US

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Types of higher education institutions in the US

Guide to selecting the right US educational institution

In the US, there are about 4,500 institutions of higher learning, including colleges and universities. Although these phrases are frequently used synonymously because both offer students post-secondary education, they are distinct from one another, and it’s crucial to recognize this in order to discover your best fit.

Types of educational institutions in the US

1. Public universities

Due to the fact that they are funded by public taxation, these colleges are state-affiliated and frequently referred to as state universities. A state university system is made up of public universities that operate independently in many states but share management and administration. However, this is not always the case. Additionally, all programs and degrees are available at different post-secondary levels. International students pay significantly more in tuition than domestic students do, but less than students at private universities.

The most well-known public universities are:

  • The University of Texas
  • The University of Michigan
  • The University of Florida
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • The University of California
  • California State University 

2. Private universities

The government does not fund or support these universities. Through tuition fees, alumni gifts, and grants for academic research, they are supported privately. Nevertheless, they are supported by the public through grants, loans, and favorable tax treatment. These colleges have slightly higher tuition costs than public universities, but they are the same for both domestic and foreign students.

According to THE rankings for 2021, well-known private universities include

  • Harvard University
  • Stanford University
  • Yale University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Duke University
  • Brown University 

3. Ivy League universities

These eight private universities came together to establish the most well-known collection of American universities. They did so in order to form an athletic conference for teams from the US’s Northeast. These universities have multiple professional and graduate schools attached to its name, with a focus on undergraduate liberal arts education. Additionally, many universities have a very competitive admissions process and high tuition costs.

Member universities include 

  • Harvard University
  • Princeton University
  • Yale University
  • Columbia University
  • Cornell University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Brown University
  • Dartmouth College

4. Technical schools

These are institutions that specialize in providing degrees and courses in engineering, science, and research. Graduates with a good background in science and math tend to favor these the most. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), California Polytechnic Institute, Virginia Tech, and Georgia Institute of Technology are a few institutions in this group.

5. Liberal arts colleges

These are educational institutions that lay a strong focus on undergraduate courses in humanities, science and social science streams. These are public or private institutions with high academic standards providing individual attention in smaller classes.  

The top five liberal arts schools as per THE rankings 2021 are:

  • Amherst College
  • Williams College
  • Pomona College
  • Wellesley College
  • Swarthmore College 

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