What is the difference between an University and State Colleges

What is the difference between an University and State Colleges:

Generally, universities offer graduate degrees and colleges only offer associate’s or bachelor’s degrees.

In the United States, there is no standard difference. The terms are arbitrary. Very generally speaking, a university tends to offer a wider range of degrees, and a college might not offer the absolute highest of degrees, but these general rules do not hold in any particular case.

Here, let me page a moderator to move this to General Questions.

Oh, Garçon! Ici!

Let it be done!

<Claps hands>

Title edited to indicate subject.

General Questions Moderator

In the US, a college with “State” in the name (e.g., North Carolina State, Florida State), is usually a land grant college or University, originally founded to concentrate on things like agriculture, engineering, teaching, and other non-liberal-arts curriculum. They are run by the state with support from tax dollars.

A University without “State” (e.g., North Carolina, Florida, etc.) are large colleges, usually founded by private, non-profit sponsors, and which have a liberal arts curriculum, among others.

A “University” is generally a college gives advanced degrees (e.g., M.A., Ph.D.), though M.B.As are sometimes granted by college.

There are, of course, exceptions to these rules, but they do apply in general.

While it is true that the use of “state” indicates a government institution, the absence of “state” doesn’t really indicate anything at all.

Usually universities have multiple subentities called schools. They might have a law school, medical school, business school, etc. Colleges generally don’t but this is far from universal. Also the undergraduate part of a university might be called a college. So Harvard College is a part of Harvard University, along with Harvard Law School, etc.

A college with “State” in its name is almost certainly a state run college funded at least in part by that state. But the same is generally true with any college or university with the state’s name in their name, for example University of Michigan. Probably the most notable exception to that rule is University of Pennsylvania which is a private, indeed Ivy League, school. This “rule” is so common that it has been suggested from time to time that U of Pennsylvania rename itself Ben Franklin University to avoid this confusion

In Minnesota, the state colleges and state universities are both part of the Minnesota State Colleges and University system, headed by a Chancellor. The difference here is the colleges are two-year programs offering associate’s degrees, and the universities handle the four-year degrees (and almost always, graduate degrees). There is a more technical or “practical” focus in the state system. The four-year campuses are typically (but not always) called “<name of city> State University”

The state’s University system is run by regents appointed by the governor and an president. They have bachelor degrees but also a huge focus on graduate degrees (FWIW that’s where mine is from). There are a number of branches across the state, but the largest campus by far is in Minneapolis, with its business and medical and technology schools. The main U of M is assumed to be the Twin Cities campus, and the others are “University of Minnesota - <name of city>”. The UofM is the premiere education campus and has lots of research focus.

In general, “<State Name> University” or “University of <State Name>” was the flagship school, with the big liberal arts, medicine and legal programs, while “<State Name> State University” was the land-grant university established for agricultural, engineering and other non-liberal arts stuff like RealityChuck has described.

However, over time, in many cases, the “<State Name> State University” schools have become respected and well-rounded universities in their own right. See Kansas University vs. Kansas State, University of Michigan/Michigan State, or University of Texas vs. Texas A&M (Texas State is some pygmy bullshit school that was originally SW Texas State Teachers College; A&M fills the role of the “<State Name> State University” in Texas) for examples.

Traditionally, a College offered education in a single subject - there was no reason a College could not offer PhD, but they generally didn’t. Often they are for-profit institutions. “State Colleges” are the same concept, just offered by the State Government. Sometimes, a failed private college will be bought by the State (note this is a common situation: your business is failing? Get your buddies in the government to buy it!).
A Universities a much larger institution - each of it’s “schools” could be spun off as a separate college (albeit they share common classes for core curricular, such as English, American History - the things the technical school undergrads say “why do I need to know how to write - i"m going to be an Engineer!”.

So, if you start out to be a Physicist but decide to switch to Education you can do that with a bit of paperwork at a University, Had you started at a Physics College, you’d have to find another school

OK, everyone’s pretty well covered the University of <statename> and <statename> State University above. There’s one other class of schools with the state name in them: direction schools.

Direction schools have the state name with a directional modifier. These are also almost always state supported but are generally considered to be a lower tier school than the others. Examples are University of South Florida, Western Kentucky University, Western Oregon University, Eastern Washington University, University of Southern California[sup]1[/sup], and Northern Illinois University.

Not every state has direction schools. Some have their lower tier state supported schools with city names or other names, although having the word “State” in the title is quite common.

[sup]1[/sup] OK, I’m joking here a bit. Southern California is a private school. The lower tier applies though :wink:

And there are the schools the names of which are more difficult to wrap your head around, such as Case Western Reserve University, which is firmly ensconced in Cleveland, a city in the eastern part of the United States.

The name comes from the fact the region it’s in was once part of the Connecticut Western Reserve, hence the Western Reserve University, and the ‘Case’ is due to the merger of the Western Reserve University and the Case Institute of Technology, formerly the Case School of Applied Science, which was founded by a man named Case. Truly a unique case of school nomenclature.

Since no one else seems to have pointed it out, it’s “a university,” not “an university.”

I like this answer better, “A university is what a college becomes when it stops caring about its students.”

Just like Northwestern is in Illinois, not Alaska or Washington.

Also, Boston College is neither in Boston nor a college.

Several other State universities were originally “A&M” schools, such as Oklahoma State. They just dropped the A&M moniker and went with the “State” moniker at some point.

As a general rule in California, UC’s offer doctorates while CSU’s do not.

Probably of no interest to the OP, but land grant schools in the US also have government documents depositories in them.