Difference Between Community College & University

Community College vs University

After completing high school and receiving a diploma, the next step is to look for higher education at a college or university. It’s well-known that college education can help further careers and provide specialization. However, the high cost of college education can be a challenge for many students, unless they have a scholarship. Community colleges offer an alternative for those looking to pursue higher education. Deciding between a community college and a university can be difficult for students who aren’t aware of the differences between these two higher education institutions. This article aims to clarify these differences and help students make an informed decision.

Key Takeaways

  • Community colleges are smaller centers of education that were established to bring education closer to adults and students, providing the opportunity to pursue higher education tailored to their needs.
  • Universities are large centers of higher studies and research, offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level degrees in various fields of study.
  • Community colleges are more affordable and flexible compared to universities, making them a popular choice for those who are unable to attend a regular college or university.

Community College

The lack of universities in certain areas and the high costs associated with pursuing higher education led to the establishment of community colleges during the 20th century. These smaller centers of education were created to make education more accessible to adults and students, offering higher education tailored to their needs. The term “community college” stems from the fact that these institutions were designed to cater to the needs of local communities rather than attracting students from far away.

Community colleges offer various courses leading to certificates, diplomas, and associate’s degrees. They also allow students to transfer credits earned at a community college to a college or university when seeking a degree from a higher institution.

Students choose community colleges for several reasons, including their affordability compared to colleges and universities. These colleges are also popular among adults who, for various reasons, could not attend a regular college and now have jobs, making it difficult for them to attend a traditional college.

One major advantage of community colleges is their proximity, which allows students to continue working or living at home while pursuing higher education. Another advantage is the opportunity to study courses not available at universities and become job-ready after completing a course, such as nursing or technician programs.


The term “university” comes from a Latin word that translates to “a community of teachers and scholars.” Today, universities are centers of higher studies and research, offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in various fields of study. Students can also pursue doctoral level courses to earn titles such as doctor of law, medicine, science, arts, or engineering. Some universities specialize in medical degrees at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

Universities are breeding grounds for research in numerous subjects. University courses are popular among students because they are widely accepted in the industry and make students eligible for jobs after completing their courses at these higher education institutions.

Differences between Community College and University

  • Community colleges fill the gap for students who cannot go to universities for higher education, while universities offer more extensive degree programs.
  • Adults who haven’t completed their higher studies can pursue courses at community colleges while working.
  • Community colleges offer certificates, diplomas, and associate’s degrees, while universities offer 4- and 5-year degree courses with higher value and acceptance in the industry.
  • Community colleges are located close to students and are not residential, while universities are typically in large cities and require students to live on campus.
  • Universities offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level degrees and research opportunities, while community colleges provide more specialized and flexible education options.
  • Community colleges are more affordable than universities.
  • Those looking to start a job soon after completing their course can join a community college instead of a university.
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen
Maria Nguyen is a talented writer with a flair for developing captivating content in a range of formats. Her commitment to thorough research and producing top-notch material has contributed to over 4 years of professional writing and editing experience. Outside of work, Maria finds pleasure in solitary activities and immersing herself in nature. Her introspective nature and passion for self-reflection inspire her creativity. She believes that spending time alone and observing the natural world can provide valuable insights and foster personal growth, broadening her perspective as a writer.


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