College vs. University

A smaller institution that usually offers undergraduate degrees is considered a college. There are even community college and junior colleges that provide students with two-year degrees. Most four-year colleges offer bachelor’s degrees with some also offering associate degrees.

In contrast, an institution that offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees is considered a university. They offer undergraduate programs that will lead a student towards a master’s degree or a doctorate. They also can have a medical or law school for those pursuing professional degrees in those fields. Sometimes, they even have these great programs that allow you to get both your undergraduate and your graduate degree in a shorter amount of time. Universities will also offer a more diverse curriculum and programs because they have a much larger number of enrolled students.

History of the Two Terms

During the Middle English period, between 1250 CE and 1300 CE, the term university appeared and is older than the word college which did not appear for another 50 to 150 years. They both have Latin origins - universities (guild, corporation, society) and Collegium (club, community, society).



The National College Athletics Association (NCAA) is the most well-known and esteemed college sports organization in the USA.  When people think about college sports, it is usually the NCAA which comes to mind.

There are three divisions of the NCAA. Divisions 1 and 2 are the only ones which offer scholarships! Whereas the NCAA D1 and D2 schools are large public universities, the D3 is usually small private colleges.  While you won’t be able to get an athletic scholarship at the D3 level, you might be able to get an academic scholarship.

The NCAA D1 is very competitive.  Because of the stricter rules about eligibility, most foreign players play at the D2 level.  It is also possible to start out at the D2 level and (after 2 years) and then move to play at the D1 level.



The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletes is mostly comprised of smaller private universities.  The athletic and academic standards aren’t as high as with the NCAA, and there are fewer rules about foreign athletes.  This makes the NAIA a good choice for international athletes looking for scholarships.

Just because the athletic standard is lower than with the NCAA, it doesn’t mean that the NAIA isn’t competitive or is subpar.  The NAIA D1 is on par with the NCAA D2.



The National Junior College Athletic Association is considered the baby of sports scholarships.  It is made up of 2-year community colleges.  In the United States, community colleges are usually small, and have few (or no) academic requirements for acceptance.  Their areas of study are usually broader as well.  Because community colleges are so much cheaper than large public universities, many students in the US first attend community colleges and then transfer the course credits over to a larger university later.

The NJCAA athletic teams aren’t going to draw in big crowds like the NCAA or NAIA does, and the facilities aren’t going to be as great.  However, athletes shouldn’t dismiss NJCAA scholarships completely.  The NJCAA is a good option for students who didn’t get accepted to the NCAA or NAIA because of academics.  They can spend two years at the community college getting their grades up, and then try for a NCAA or NAIA scholarship.  The NJCAA is also a good way for foreign players to get noticed by coaches.  Coaches often prefer to take players from the NJCAA because they have proven their dedication and their ability to balance life as a student athlete.

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