What's the difference between a college and a university?
Colleges and universities have a lot in common. They prepare young adults for work. They provide a greater understanding of the world and its past. And they help students learn to value the arts1 and sciences.
Students who attend either a college or a university traditionally take four years to complete a program of study. Those who are successful receive a bachelor's2 degree. But one difference is that many colleges do not offer additional study programs or support research projects.
Universities often are much larger than colleges. Universities carry out a lot of research. They offer more programs in different areas of study, for undergraduate3 and graduate4 students. Modern universities developed from those of the Middle Ages in Europe. The word “university” came from the Latin “universitas.” This described a group of people organized for a common purpose.
“College” came from a Latin word with a similar meaning, “collegium.” In England, colleges were formed to provide students with places to live. Usually each group was studying the same thing. So the word “college” came to mean one area of study.
Today, most American colleges offer an area of study called liberal arts5. The liberal arts are subjects first developed and taught in ancient Greece. They trained a person's mind. They were seen as different from subjects that were considered more useful in everyday life.
Another meaning of “college” is a part of a university. The first American universities divided their studies into many areas and called each one a college. This is still true.
Programs in higher learning may also be called “schools.” For example, the University of Texas at Austin has fourteen colleges and schools. These include the colleges of pharmacy6, education, engineering, and fine arts7. They also include the schools of architecture8, business, law and information.
How are some students able to stay in their home country and still earn a degree?
Many students who take classes by computer over the Internet say they like the independence of online9 education. Students do not have to sit in a classroom and do not have to attend courses at a set time. Professors say they have better communication10 with students through e-mail than they do in many traditional classes.
American colleges and universities have been offering classes online for a number of years. The University of Phoenix, in Arizona, has been offering degrees online since 1989. University officials say they try to provide students with a social experience as well as an educational one. In some programs, for example, students in groups of six take all their classes together. They communicate with each other by computer.
Jones International University in Englewood, Colorado, describes itself as the first fully online accredited11 university. Jones International offers both bachelor's and master's degrees12. Another online school is Cardean University, near Chicago, Illinois. It began in 2000. It offers a master's of business administration13 degree. It says its courses are developed with five top business schools and can be completed in as little as twenty-two months. Cardean says it has taught students from 90 countries.
Lists of schools that offer online programs are easy to find on the Internet. Just use a search engine14 like Google or Yahoo and type in “online education.”
Be careful, though, of offers for a college degree in return for15 little or no work. Such operations are illegal in the United States. Educational advisers say that before you enter any program, you should make sure the work will be recognized in your country.
（选自VOA Special English）