Difference between College and University – What you need to know

The main difference between a college and a university is that colleges tend to focus on undergraduate programmes, while universities offer both undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. There are also differences in terms of size and scope, with universities generally being larger and offering a wider range of programmes and resources. In general, the choice between college and university will depend on each person’s individual educational and career goals.

In Canada, there are some key differences between colleges and universities that you should be aware of before making a decision about your post-secondary education. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between college and university in Canada.

Study programmes:

Colleges in Canada offer study programmes that are more focused on specific, practical skills, such as technology, business, arts and design, health, among others. Study programmes at colleges are designed to prepare students for a specific career or job.

In contrast, universities in Canada offer more academic and theoretical study programmes, such as science, humanities, social sciences and mathematics. Study programmes at universities are designed to prepare students for careers in research, academia and other related fields.

Duration of programmes:

Programmes at colleges tend to be shorter than programmes at universities. Typically, diploma programmes at colleges last between 1 and 3 years, while certificate programmes can last from a few weeks to a year.

In contrast, undergraduate programmes at universities last between 3 and 4 years, while postgraduate programmes can last between 1 and 3 years.

Size of institutions:

In general, universities in Canada are larger than colleges in terms of student population and faculty. Universities have a wide range of academic departments and study programmes, and generally have a larger number of international students.

Colleges are smaller and tend to have a more diverse student population in terms of age, work experience and background.


The cost of education at colleges in Canada is generally lower than at universities. This is partly because college programmes are shorter and focused on specific skills, which means that students can enter the labour market more quickly.

In contrast, programmes at universities are longer and more academic, which means that students may need a larger financial investment to complete their studies.

In summary, the main differences between colleges and universities in Canada relate to curricula, length of programmes, size of institutions and cost. It is important to consider these factors when making a decision about your post-secondary education in Canada.

What is a College?

It is known as an educational institution that offers short-term career options. Generally the time required to complete studies at a college is one to two years and the degree offered is an “associate’s degree” regardless of the field you choose.

Normally, when a student finishes high school, he or she can decide to enter a college. However, a college defines independent schools or faculties within the university, which in some cases operate externally.

What is a University?

Universities are known as institutions of higher education. As university degrees which offer postgraduate degrees or doctorates. It is important to note that the university is made up of different faculties such as arts, law, science, humanities and others.

But keep in mind that the large size of this group of faculties called campus encompasses the word university.

And usually these faculties are individually known as College.