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College (Latin: collegium) is a term most often used today to denote a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution. More broadly, it can be the name of any group of colleague, for example, an electoral college, a College of Armsmarker or the College of Cardinals. Originally, it meant a group of persons living together, under a common set of rules (con- = "together" + leg- = "law" or lego = "I choose"); indeed, some colleges call their members "fellows". The precise usage of the term varies among the English-speaking countries. In the United Statesmarker and Irelandmarker, for example, the terms "college" and "university" may be regarded as loosely interchangeable, whereas in the United Kingdommarker, Canadamarker, Australia and other Commonwealth countries, a "college" is usually an institution between school and university level (although constituent schools within universities are sometimes known as "colleges").


Educational institutions in the form of a school or academy have existed in many civilizations. The earliest were in Mesopotamia during the 3rd millennium BC. In Sparta, the Agoge was the name for an educational institution. Its origins are thought to be between the 7th and 6th century BC, for both men and women. Rome followed around the 3rd century BC with their rhetoric schools. Ancient Chinamarker also had Shuyuan academies, while ancient India had Gurukul schools.

The origin of the college, as distinct from a school or academy, arose with the madrasah of the medieval Islamic world. The madrasah was an Islamic college of law and theology, usually affiliated with a mosque, and is funded by a charitable trust known as Waqf, the origin of the trust law. The internal organization of the first European colleges was borrowed from the earlier madrasahs, being funded by trusts and featuring a system of fellows and scholar, with the Latin term for fellow, socius, being a direct translation of the Arabic term for fellow, sahib.

While philosophy and the rational sciences were often excluded from a madrasah's curriculum, this varied among different institutions, with some only choosing to teach the "religious sciences", and others teaching both the religious and the "rational sciences", usually logic, mathematics and philosophy. Some madrasahs further extended their curriculum to history, politics, ethics, music, metaphysics, medicine, astronomy and chemistry.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdommarker, usage of the word "college" remains the loosest, encompassing a range of institutions:

Primary and secondary schools

Further education

In general use, a college is an institution between secondary school and university, either a sixth form college or a college of further education and adult education, which were usually called technical colleges. Recently, however, with the phasing out of poly technical colleges, the term has become less clear-cut.

Higher education

In relation to universities, the term college normally refers to a part of the university which does not have degree-awarding powers in itself. Degrees are always awarded by universities whereas colleges are institutions or organizations which prepare students for the degree.

In some cases, colleges prepare students for the degree of a university of which the college is a part (e.g. colleges of the University of London, University of Cambridgemarker, etc.) In other cases, colleges are independent institutions which prepare students to sit as external candidates at other universities or have authority to run courses that lead to the degrees of those universities (e.g. many higher education colleges and university colleges).

Professional bodies

Law courts

United States

In American English, the word, in contrast to its many and varied British meanings, usually refers to liberal arts colleges that provide education primarily at the undergraduate level. But it can also refer to schools which offer a vocational, business, engineering, or technical curriculum. The term can either refer to a self-contained institution that has no graduate studies or to the undergraduate school of a full university (i.e., that also has a separate graduate faculty).

In popular usage, the word "college" is the generic term for any post-secondary undergraduate education. Americans go to "college" after high school, regardless of whether the specific institution is formally a college or a university, and the word and its derivatives are the standard terms used to describe the institutions and experiences associated with American post-secondary undergraduate education.
Colleges vary in terms of size, degree, and length of stay. Two-year colleges, also known as junior or community colleges, usually offer an associate's degree, and four-year colleges usually offer a bachelor's degree. Often, these are entirely undergraduate institutions, although some have limited graduate school programs.

Four-year institutions in the U.S. that emphasize a liberal arts curriculum are known as liberal arts colleges. These schools have traditionally emphasized instruction at the undergraduate level, although advanced research may still occur at these institutions.

While there is no national standard in the United States, the term "university" primarily designates institutions that provide undergraduate and graduate education. A university typically has as its core and its largest internal division an undergraduate college teaching a liberal arts curriculum, also culminating in a bachelor's degree. What often distinguishes a university is having, in addition, one or more Graduate schools engaged in both teaching graduate classes and engaged in research. Often these would be called a School of Law or School of Medicine, (but may also be called a college of law, or a faculty of law, etc.).

On the other hand, public and private universities are typically more research-oriented institutions which service both an undergraduate and graduate student body. Graduate programs may grant a Master of Arts or a variety of Master's degrees, including MBA and MFA. The doctorate is the highest academic degree in the United States, and the PhD is given in many fields. Medical schools award MD or DO while law schools award the JD. The extent to which graduate programs are integrated with undergraduate studies varies by university and by program. These institutions usually have a large student body. Introductory seminars on the undergraduate level can have a class size in the hundreds in some of the larger schools. Compared to liberal arts colleges, the interaction between students and full-time faculty can be limited and a higher number of undergraduate classes may be taught by graduate student TAs.

Some institutions, such as Dartmouth Collegemarker, and The College of William & Marymarker, have retained the term "college" in their names for historical reasons or because of an undergraduate focus, although they offer higher degrees. And many colleges may offer a Master of Arts degree in some field without a full curriculum leading to a PhD.

Usage of the terms varies among the states, each of which operates its own institutions and licenses private ones. In 1996 for example, Georgiamarker changed all of its four-year institutions previously designated as colleges to universities, and all of its vocational technology schools to technical college. (Previously, only the four-year research institutions, apart from the well-established historic exception of the Georgia Institute of Technologymarker, were called "universities".) Other states have changed the names of individual colleges, many having started as a teachers' college or vocational school (such as an A&M — an agricultural and mechanical school) that ended up as a full-fledged state university.

"University" and "college" do not exhaust all possible titles for an American institution of higher education. Other options include "institute" (Massachusetts Institute of Technologymarker), "academy" (United States Military Academymarker), "union" (Cooper Unionmarker), "conservatory" (New England Conservatorymarker), and "school" (Juilliard Schoolmarker), although these titles are only for their official names. In colloquial use, they are still referred to as "college" when referring to their undergraduate studies.

The term college is also, as in the United Kingdom, used for a constituent semi-autonomous part of a larger university but generally organized on academic rather than residential lines. For example, at many institutions, the undergraduate portion of the university can be briefly referred to as the college (such as The College of the University of Chicago, Harvard Collegemarker at Harvardmarker, or Columbia College at Columbia) while at others each of the faculties may be called a "college" (the "college of engineering", the "college of nursing", and so forth). There exist other variants for historical reasons; for example, Duke Universitymarker, which was called Trinity College until the 1920s, still calls its main undergraduate subdivision Trinity College of Arts and Sciences. Some American universities, such as Princetonmarker, Rice, and Yalemarker do have residential colleges along the lines of Oxford or Cambridge, but the name was clearly adopted in homage to the British system. Unlike the Oxbridge colleges, these residential colleges are not autonomous legal entities nor are they typically much involved in education itself, being primarily concerned with room, board, and social life. At the University of Michiganmarker, University of California, San Diegomarker and the University of California, Santa Cruzmarker, however, each of the residential colleges do teach its own core writing courses and has its own distinctive set of graduation requirements.

The origin of the U.S. usage

The founders of the first institutions of higher education in the United Statesmarker were graduates of the University of Oxfordmarker and the University of Cambridgemarker. The small institutions they founded would not have seemed to them like universities — they were tiny and did not offer the higher degrees in medicine and theology. Furthermore, they were not composed of several small colleges. Instead, the new institutions felt like the Oxford and Cambridge colleges they were used to — small communities, housing and feeding their students, with instruction from residential tutors (as in the United Kingdom, described above). When the first students came to be graduated, these "colleges" assumed the right to confer degrees upon them, usually with authority—for example, The College of William & Marymarker has a Royal Charter from the British monarchy allowing it to confer degrees while Dartmouth Collegemarker has a charter permitting it to award degrees "as are usually granted in either of the universities, or any other college in our realm of Great Britain."

The leaders of Harvard Collegemarker (which granted America's first degrees in 1642) might have thought of their college as the first of many residential colleges which would grow up into a New Cambridge university. However, over time, few new colleges were founded there, and Harvard grew and added higher faculties. Eventually, it changed its title to university, but the term "college" had stuck and "colleges" have arisen across the United Statesmarker.

In U.S. usage, the word "college" embodies not only a particular type of school, but has historically been used to refer to the general concept of higher education when it is not necessary to specify a school, as in "going to college" or "college savings accounts" offered by banks.

The Morrill Land-Grant Act

In addition to private colleges and universities, the U.S. also has a system of government funded, public universities, also, in many cases, known as State Colleges. Many State Colleges were founded under the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act to make higher education more easily accessible to the citizenry of the country, specifically to improve agricultural systems by providing training and scholarship in the production and sales of agricultural products, and to provide formal education in "…agriculture, home economics, mechanical arts, and other professions that seemed practical at the time."

In the 1860s, when this act was established, the original colleges on the east coast, primarily those of the Ivy League and several religious based colleges, were the only form of higher education available, and were often confined only to the children of the elite. A movement arose to bring a form of more practical higher education to the masses, as “…many politicians and educators wanted to make it possible for all young Americans to receive some sort of advanced education.” In 1862 Congress passed a measure that “…made it possible for the new western states to establish colleges for the citizens.” This was extended to allow all states, that had remained with the union during the American Civil War and eventually all states, to establish such institutions.

Most of the colleges established under the Morrill Act have since gone on to become full universities. Some are amongst the elite of the world.

Professional bodies

Numerous professional bodies in the U.S. also use the appellation College. Examples in medicine include the American College of Physicians, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and the American College of Surgeons, in osteopathic medicine the American College of Osteopathic Family Physicians and the American College of Osteopathic Internists, and in dentistry the American College of Dentists and the American College of Prosthodontists.

The rest of the English-speaking world

Influenced by their origins in the British Empire, by contact with and sometimes imitation of U.S. academia, and even by modern American pop culture, the rest of the English-speaking world seems to have adopted a mix of the U.S. and British practices.


In Australia, the term "college" has several different, and unrelated, meanings.

  • It can refer to an institution of tertiary education that is smaller than a university, run independently or as part of a university. Following a reform in the 1980s many of the formerly independent colleges now belong to a larger university.
  • The term can also be used to refer to parts of a university. In that context there are residential colleges which provide residence for students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, called university colleges, as in the United Kingdom. These Colleges often provide additional tutorial assistance and some host theological study. Less commonly college can refer to a superfaculty organizational unit, as in the ANU Colleges.
  • Most TAFEs, which offer certificate and diploma vocational courses, are styled "TAFE colleges" or "Colleges of TAFE". Some private institutions offering TAFE certificates, university bridging courses, or theological courses of study (i.e. Bible colleges) style themselves "Institutes" or "Colleges".
  • Many private as well as state high schools that provide secondary education are called "colleges" in Australia. As secondary education is managed by state authorities rather than nationally, the term's use varies on a regional basis.
  • Some professional and registration bodies, especially in the medical arena, which are not educational bodies style themselves a "College" or "Institute": for example, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. In some cases, they have legal status and members of a profession must obtain and maintain College membership in order to be allowed to practice.

Usage in secondary education by state or territory

In Tasmaniamarker and the Australian Capital Territorymarker, "college" refers to the final two years of high school (years eleven and twelve), and the institutions which provide this. In this context, "college" is a system independent of the other years of high school. Here, the expression is a shorter version of matriculation college.

In the state of Victoriamarker, most public schools providing secondary education are known as secondary colleges, though most Victorians still refer to this level of education as "high school".

In Western Australiamarker, South Australiamarker and the Northern Territorymarker, "College" is used in the name of all state high schools built since the late 1990s, and in some older ones which have been renamed since that time. The term for the sector, however, is still "high schools", or in official Government usage, "schools with secondary students". Many private or independent schools, including many who accept K-7 students, are styled "Colleges".

In New South Walesmarker, some high schools, especially multi-campus schools resulting from mergers, are known as "secondary colleges".

In Queenslandmarker, the term college is used by some private secondary institutions, although some newer schools which accept primary and high school students are being styled "State College", whilst schools which offer only secondary education are styled "State High School".


In Canadamarker, the term "college" usually refers to a community college or a technical, applied arts, or applied science school. These are post-secondary institutions granting certificates, diplomas, associate's degree, and bachelor's degrees. In Quebecmarker, the term is seldom used, the equivalent being CEGEP (College d'enseignement général et professionnel, "college of general and professional education"), a form of post-secondary education specific to the Quebec education system that is required in order to continue onto university (unless one applies as a 'mature' student, meaning 21 years of age or over, and out of the educational system for at least 2 years), or to learn a trade. In Ontariomarker, British Columbiamarker and Albertamarker, there are also institutions which are designated university colleges, as they only grant under-graduate degrees. This is to differentiate between universities, which have both under-graduate and graduate programs and those that do not. In contrast to usage in the United States, there is a strong distinction between "college" and "university" in Canada. In conversation, one specifically would say either "They are going to university" (i.e., studying for a three- or four-year degree at a university) or "They are going to college" (suggesting a technical or career college).

The Royal Military College of Canadamarker, a full-fledged degree-granting university, does not follow the naming convention used by the rest of the country, nor does its sister school Royal Military College Saint-Jeanmarker or the now closed Royal Roads Military Collegemarker.

The term "college" also applies to distinct entities within a university (usually referred to as "federated colleges" or "affiliated colleges"),to the residential colleges in the United Kingdom. These colleges act independently, but in affiliation or federation with the university that actually grants the degrees. For example, Trinity Collegemarker was once an independent institution, but later became federated with the University of Torontomarker, and is now one of its residential colleges. In the case of Memorial University of Newfoundlandmarker, located in St. John'smarker, the Corner Brookmarker campus is called Sir Wilfred Grenfell Collegemarker. Occasionally, "college" refers to a subject specific faculty within a university that, while distinct, are neither federated nor affiliated—College of Education, College of Medicine, College of Dentistry, among others.

There are also universities referred to as art colleges, empowered to grant academic degrees of BFA, Bdes, MFA, Mdes and sometimes collaborative PhD degrees. Some of them have "university" in their name (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Universitymarker and Emily Carr University of Art and Designmarker) and others do not (Ontario College of Art & Designmarker).

In a number of Canadian cities, many government-run secondary schools are called "collegiates" or "collegiate institutes" (C.I.), a complicated form of the word "college" which avoids the usual "post-secondary" connotation. This is because these secondary schools have traditionally focused on academic, rather than vocational, subjects and ability levels (for example, collegiates offered Latin while vocational schools offered technical courses). Some private secondary schools in Toronto (such as Upper Canada Collegemarker) choose to use the word "college" in their names nevertheless. Some secondary schools elsewhere in the country, particularly ones within the separate school system, may also use the word "college" or "collegiate" in their names.

A small number of the oldest professional associations use "college" in the name in the British sense, such as the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.


In the Republic of Irelandmarker, the term "college" is usually limited to an institution of tertiary education, but the term is quite generic within this field. University students often say they attend "college" rather than "university", with the term college being more popular in wider society. This is possibly due to the fact that, until 1989, no university provided teaching or research directly. Instead, these were offered by a constituent college of the university, in the case of the National University of Ireland and University of Dublinmarker — or at least in strict legal terms. There are many secondary education institutions that use the word college. Many secondary schools, formerly known as technical colleges, were renamed as community colleges. These are secondary institutions in contrast to the American community college.

The state's only ancient university, the University of Dublinmarker, is really English in its origins and, until recently, its outlook. Created during the reign of Elizabeth I, it is modelled on the universities of Cambridgemarker and Oxfordmarker. However, only one constituent college was ever founded, hence the curious position of Trinity College, Dublinmarker today. For a time, degrees in Dublin Institute of Technology were also conferred by the university. However, that institution now has its own degree awarding powers and is considering applying for full university status.

Among more modern foundations, the National University of Ireland, founded in 1908, consisted of constituent colleges and recognised colleges until 1997. The former are now referred to as constituent universities — institutions that are essentially universities in their own right. The National University can trace its existence back to 1850 and the creation of the Queen's University of Ireland and the creation of the Catholic University of Ireland in 1854. From 1880, the degree awarding roles of these two universities was taken over by the Royal University of Ireland, which remained until the creation of the National University in 1908 and the Queen's University Belfastmarker.

The state's two new universities Dublin City Universitymarker and University of Limerickmarker were initially National Institute for Higher Education institutions. These institutions offered university level academic degrees and research from the start of their existence and were awarded university status in 1989 in recognition of this. These two universities now follow the general trend of universities having associated colleges offering their degrees.

Third level technical education in the state has been carried out in the Institutes of Technology, which were established from the 1970s as Regional Technical Colleges. These institutions have delegated authority which entitles them to give degrees and diplomas from the Higher Education and Training Awards Council in their own name.

A number of Private Colleges exist such as DBS, providing undergraduate and postgraduate courses validated by HETAC and in some cases by other Universities.

Other types of college include Colleges of Education, such as National College of Ireland. These are specialist institutions, often linked to a university, which provide both undergraduate and postgraduate academic degrees for people who want to train as teachers.

Hong Kong

In Hong Kongmarker, the term "college" has a range of meanings, as in the British case. In the first case it can refer to a secondary school. It is also used by tertiary institutions as either part of their names or to refer to a constituent part of the university, such as the colleges in the collegiate Chinese University of Hong Kongmarker; or to a residence hall of a university, such as St. John's College, University of Hong Kong.


The term university is more common than college in Indiamarker. Generally, colleges are located in different parts of a state and all of them are affiliated to a regional university. The colleges offer programmes under that university. Examinations are conducted by the university at the same time for all colleges under its affiliation. There are several hundred universities and each university has affiliated colleges.

The first liberal arts and sciences college in India was C. M. S. College Kottayam, Keralamarker (estd. 1817), and the Presidency College, Kolkata (estd. 1817), initially known as Hindu College. The first commerce and economics college in India was Sydenham Collegemarker, Mumbaimarker, which was established in the year 1913. The first Missionary institution to impart Western style education in India was the Scottish Church College, Calcutta (estd. 1830). The first modern university in India was the University of Calcutta (estd. January 1857). The first research institution for the study of the social sciences and ushering the spirit of Oriental research was the Asiatic Society, (estd. 1784). The first college for the study of Christian theology and ecumenical enquiry was Serampore College (estd. 1818).

The Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Statistical Institute, Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Science and Tata Institute of Fundamental Researchmarker are specialized institutions that award their own degrees. They are premier institutes in India. There are fourteen IITs, four ISIs (along with another 15 SQC and OR Units), 7 IIMs, one IIS, and one TIFR at present.

New Zealand

In New Zealandmarker the word "college" normally refers to a secondary school for ages 13 to 17. In contrast, most older schools of the same type are "high schools". Also, single-sex schools are more likely to be "Someplace Boys/Girls High School", but there are also very many coeducational "high schools". The difference between "high schools" and "colleges" is usually only one of terminology. However, many private or integrated schools are known as "such and such college" There does seem to be a geographical difference in terminology: "colleges" most frequently appear in the North Island, whereas "high schools" are more common in the South Island.

The constituent colleges of the former University of New Zealand (such as Canterbury University College) have become independent universities. Some halls of residence associated with New Zealand universities retain the name of "college", particularly at the University of Otagomarker (which although brought under the umbrella of the University of New Zealand, already possessed university status and degree awarding powers). The institutions formerly known as "Teacher-training colleges" now style themselves "College of education".

Some universities, such as the University of Canterburymarker, have divided their University into constituent administrative "Colleges" - the College of Arts containing departments that teach Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Science containing Science departments, and so on. This is largely modelled on the Cambridge model, discussed above.

Like the United Kingdom some professional bodies in New Zealand style themselves as "colleges", for example, the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons, the R.A.C. of Physicians


In the Philippines, colleges usually refer to institutions of learning that grant degrees but whose scholastic fields are not as diverse as that of a university, such as the San Beda College which specializes in law and the Mapua Institute of Technology which specialized in engineering, or to component units within universities that do not grant degrees but rather facilitate the instruction of a particular field, such as a College of Science and College of Engineering, among many other colleges of the University of the Philippines.

A state college may not have the word "college" on its name, but may have several component colleges, or departments. Thus, the Eulogio Amang Rodriguez Institute of Science and Technology is a state college by classification.

Usually, the term "college" is also thought of as a heirarchical demarkation between the term "university", and quite a number of colleges seek to be recognized as universities as a sign of improvement in academic standards, and increase in the diversity of the offered degree programs (called "courses"). For private colleges, this may be done through a survey and evaluation by the Commission on Higher Educations and accrediting organizations, as was the case of Urios College which is now the Fr. Saturnino Urios University. For state colleges, it is usually done by a legislation by the Congress or Senate. In common usage, "going to college" simply means attending school for an undergraduate degree, whether it's from an instutition recognized as a college or a university.


The term "college" in Singaporemarker is generally only used for pre-university educational institutions called "Junior Colleges", which provide the final two years of secondary education (equivalent to sixth form in British terms or grades 11-12 in the American system). Since 1 January 2005, the term also refers to the three campuses of the Institute of Technical Education with the introduction of the "collegiate system", in which the three institutions are called ITE College Eastmarker, ITE College Centralmarker, and ITE College Westmarker respectively.

The term "university" is used to describe higher-education institutions offering locally-conferred degrees. Institutions offering diplomas are called "polytechnic", while other institutions are often referred to as "institutes" and so forth.

Sri Lanka

In Sri Lanka the word "college" normally refers to a secondary school, which usually signifies above the 5th standard.

A limited number of exclusive secondary schools that were established during the colonial period based on English public school model and several Catholic schools traditionally carry their name as colleges [eg Royal College, Ananda College, St Joseph's College] depsite they having classes from primary school to advanced level. Many post-independence (1948) schools adapted the term college too.

There are several professional higher-education institutions that offer higher-education without granting degrees that are referred to as "colleges". This includes Sri Lanka Law College.

South Africa

Similar to New Zealand, in South Africa, the word "college" normally refers to a secondary school. Nevertheless, most secondary schools are called "Someplace High (School)". The word "college" in South Africa generally implies that the school is private. In many cases the high school is exclusive and follows the English public school model. Thus no less than six of South Africa's Elite Seven high schools call themselves "college" and fit this description. A typical example of this category would be St John's Collegemarker.

Another category of private high schools also use the "college" term. However, these schools do not follow the English public school model, but rather are more informal in character and specialize in improving children's marks through intensive focus on examination needs. These "colleges" are thus often nick-named "cram-colleges"

Although the term "college" is hardly used in any context at any university in South Africa, some non-university tertiary institutions call themselves colleges. These include teacher training colleges, business colleges and wildlife management colleges to name a few.

The non-English-speaking world

Some languages beyond English use words similar to "college". (French, for example, has the Collège de Francemarker.) However, in other languages, confusion is most likely to arise when an American is reading something translated by someone using British conventions, or vice versa.


In Belgiummarker, the term college is used for some catholic secondary schools (public secondary schools are often called atheneum). For higher education, there are two types of institutions: the Hogeschool (Dutch) / Haute Ecole (French) (which literally means high school but can be translated as university college or as vocational university) and the university. With the current reform of higher education under the Bologna process, the Hogescholen / Hautes Ecoles offer professional bachelor's degrees (3 years study in one cycle) or academic bachelor's degrees (first cycle of 3 years study) and master's degrees (second cycle of 1 or 2 years in addition to the academic bachelor's degree). Universities offer academic bachelor's degrees, master's degrees and doctorate's degree (minimum 3 years). More information about the higher education system can be found in the Higher Education Registers

East Asia

In the People's Republic of Chinamarker, Japanmarker, South Koreamarker and other East Asian states, colleges and universities are collectively named 大學 or in simplified writing 大学, which is a word originally introduced by Confucius with his influential book of the same name. The original word and subsequently the book's title is most frequently translated to "The Great Learning". Today's pronunciation of this word is country- and sometimes region- specific and includes daxue (Chinese), daigaku (Japanese), and daehak (대학) (Korean). In Japan, daigaku is usually considered distinct from senmon gakkou (専門学校), which is more of a post-secondary vocational school. In the People's Republic of Chinamarker, the college students are selected through the annual National Higher Education Entrance Examination. The meaning of 大學 is clear, but in the case of smaller institutions, the term 學院 ("xueyuan" in Chinese) is often used and, like "college" in English, can refer to either an institution of tertiary or secondary education.


In Denmarkmarker the term kollegium means dormitory. A university is called a universitet. Some institutes of higher education call themselves højskole which literally means "high school" e.g. Handelshøjskolen i København marker .


In Finlandmarker the term college has no single counterpart. A general university is called yliopisto (in Swedish, universitet). A university on a specific field of study is korkeakoulu (literally, high school). The Swedish term is högskola. In translation they use "university", "school", or "academy". An institute of the more practically oriented branch of tertiary education is ammattikorkeakoulu, in Swedish yrkeshögskola. Some of them translate their name as "polytechnic", some as "university of applied science".


In Francemarker, collège generally refers to a middle school or junior high school. However, it can also be used in a manner more similar to that of English, such as in the term electoral college or the Collège de Francemarker. The latter use, though, is not as common.

Germany and Austria

In Germanymarker and Austriamarker a Hochschule or Universität is an institute of tertiary education. Hochschule is in some texts translated as college but university is a more proper term to use as translation of it than that. A direct translation is also misleading: Hochschule literally means high school. It divides into three types: Universität/University (in which education is research-oriented and academic teachers have to be engaged in research following the principle of unity of research and teaching), Fachhochschule/University of applied sciences (University with close relationship between higher education and industry) Berufsakademie/University of cooperative education (in which students part-time study and part-time already work on the job). The Fachhochschule and Berufsakademie institutions lack the right to offer doctorate degrees. Therefore, these two types of institutions are sometimes called colleges in English texts, especially in the US. Traditionally, all three types of Hochschule offered Diplom degree courses. With the implementation of the Bologna process these degrees are replaced by Bachelor and Master degrees.

There is a very limited number of higher education institutions in Germany which use the English term college in their names. These are the European College of Liberal Arts in Berlin, the only German liberal arts college; the Baltic College, a very small private Hochschule in the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommernmarker which, while no Berufsakademie institution, is specializing in cooperative education; and Touro College Berlin, a Jewish-sponsored American college in the German capital which is a satellite campus of Touro College in New York and additionally obtained state approved recognition in Germany, the German equivalent of US regional accreditation, in December 2006. Undergraduates of Touro College Berlin may graduate with two degrees, an American Bachelor of Science degree, awarded by its parent-institution in New York, and a German Bachelor of Science degree, awarded by Touro College Berlin itself.

German secondary education often takes place in an institution called in German an Oberschule, with its specific forms Hauptschule, Realschule, Gymnasium, and in some states also Gesamtschule, together with vocational secondary education in the Berufsschule (in North Rhine-Westphaliamarker called Berufskolleg). One German Gymnasium, the Französisches Gymnasium Berlinmarker, is also wellknown under its French name Collège Français de Berlin. The term Kolleg (literally: college) is used in some states for institutions of adult education where graduates of a Berufsschule can graduate with an Abitur (which one will otherwise only achieve by graduating successfully from the Gymnasium). Within Germany, the first up to two years of College in the US are often considered the equivalent of the German Oberstufe (12th and 13th grade) in the Gymnasium. Having graduated from the Gymnasium with an Abitur (Matura in Austria) enables one to go to university, and many US colleges actually offer students with that qualification advanced standing. A Graduiertenkolleg is a German Graduate school and a Studienkolleg is a special university-preparatory school for foreign students whose foreign high school diploma is not recognised to be equivalent to a German Abitur. In the Austrian capital Viennamarker, there is also a school called Polycollege which is the oldest folk high school within that country.


In Greecemarker the term college is mainly used to refer to private secondary education institutions (high schools and junior high schools), while Πανεπιστήμιο (University) is the term utilized for Higher Education.


In Hungarymarker the term kollégium refers to a dormitory that may or may not be independent from an educational institution; it can also refer to a university's autonomous student organisation, dedicated to the advanced study of a certain science, topic etc, for example the "College for Social Theory".


In Indonesiamarker the term kolese refers to a school that be organized by Jesuits. For example, Kolese Kanisiusmarker, Jakartamarker.


In Israelmarker tertiary institutions accredited to confer a Bachelor's (and in some cases also a Master's) degree, which are not universities, are called Colleges (Hebrew: מכללות‎, Mikhlalot); the primary distinction is that only universities may award doctorate degree. There are over twenty colleges as well as a similar number of teacher training colleges, most of which can award only a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) degree; see the full list of colleges, as well as ofuniversities in Israel.


In Republican Rome, a collegium could be a voluntary association of men who met at a particular tavern at a major crossroads. A crossroads college was a social club, not a school. Business deals and even assassinations could be planned there, quietly, over a carafe of wine. (Source: Colleen McCullough, "The First Man in Rome,"1990.)

In Italymarker the term collegio, in school context, refers to a particular school (with elite, alternative or stricter education; a collegio offered by the State to the children of some of its civil employees, or a collegio related to a military education, is more commonly called convitto), many of these also accomodate their students in lodging.


In the Malaysiamarker, majority of the private higher educational institutions use the term college or institute. They are allowed to use the name College provided they are registered with Ministry of Higher Education. Under Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996. Ministry Official Website


In the Netherlandsmarker the term college is used for institutes of secondary education. The term college is also used for classes or lectures at university. Confusingly, college is also used to refer to both the mayor and aldermen of a municipality, who form the municipal government.


In Norwaymarker the term "university college" is used as an official English translation for høgskole (alternatively spelt høyskole and høgskule), a term used for independent educational institutions providing tertiary, but not quaternary education. Similarly to the situation in Germany, Sweden and Denmark, the Norwegian term høgskole literally means "high school".Before you can study at a høgskole or a university, you must have graduated from the videregående skole, (similar to high school). That means that the common høgskole/university student is 19 years old and above.


In Portugalmarker the term college (colégio) is mainly used to refer to private primary education institutions, while Universidade (University), Faculdade, Instituto or Escola Superior are the terms generally used for several kind of higher education institutions.


In Romaniamarker, college is the next step you can study after high school (Liceu in Romanian). It can be a college that usually lasts two years or University that can last 2, 3, or 4 years depending on the field. But in the last 20 years many top high schools had been renamed into Colegiul National (National College) dwelling on a between-war formula.


In Russiamarker, upon finishing 9th grade students can choose to either continue attending high school and then go on to universities, or go to college. Colleges provide high school and technical education. After graduating from college students can continue their education in universities.

Spain, Spanish-speaking countries (Latin America)

In Spainmarker and the Spanish speaking countries of Latin America the term colegio (school) refers to either institutions for primary and secondary education or some homogeneous grouping of people who refer to themselves as a colegio inasmuch as they are colleagues. For example, in Perumarker the professional organizations that group the lawyers of Limamarker or the biologists of Peru are called "Colegio de Abogados de Lima" (or College of Lawyers of Lima) and Colegio de Biólogos del Perú; in Colombiamarker, an example of professional body is the "Colegio Colombiano de Archivistas - CCA", called in English Colombian College of Archivists - CCA. An exception is Puerto Rico. On the island the word "colegio" usually refers to elementary to secondary private schools, while the word "escuela" is used to refer to elementary to secondary public schools. A unit of the University of Puerto Rico system is called El Colegio ( the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüezmarker ) for traditional reasons. The University of Puerto Rico was founded during the American sovereignty. Therefore, the graduates of this unit even at the Ph.D. level are Colegiales.


In Swedenmarker the term "university college" is used as an official English translation for högskola, a term used for independent educational institutions providing tertiary, but not quaternary education. Similarly to the situation in Norway, the Swedish term högskola literally means "high school". The same term is also used for a number of institutions which function as specialized universities rather than university colleges, providing quaternary education and conducting research.Before studying at a "högskola" or university (universitet), you must have fulfilled the Gymnasium , being the grades from 10 to 12. That means that the common högskola/university student is 19 years old and above.

Examples of Swedish universities are found at List of universities in Sweden


In some cantons of the French speaking part of Switzerlandmarker and also on the border to the Swiss German speaking part (i.e. in Fribourgmarker) the French term “Collège” (German: Kollegium) is used for middle school or junior high school and sometimes for the Gymnasium (10th to 13th grade) which lends to the matura. It is also used as a name for the physical building in which obligatory education takes place (e.g., Le Collège de La Planta).


In Turkeymarker, the term college (kolej in Turkish) refers to private high schools. The name originates from Robert Collegemarker, the first American educational institution founded outside the United Statesmarker. Though founded as a college, the school also had middle and secondary sections over the years after its foundation in 1863. Since 1971, Robert Collegemarker operates as a private high school; however, the term kolej (college) is widely used by the private high schools that flourished over the last few decades, as an imitation of foreign schools, like Robert Collegemarker, in Turkeymarker. According to the Turkish education system, official name for a private high school is the direct translation, özel lise, not kolej.


In Vietnam there are 2 ways to use the word "college".

Vietnamese usually say "college" refers to "cao đẳng". "Cao đẳng" is a higher education institute in Vietnam. The courses last for 3 years, 1 year shorter than "đại học" (Vietnamese, means "university"). After graduation from a college, students are awarded a degree. This degree is evaluated below a degree from a university. If necessary, the student with a colleges' degree can transfer to a university and study in one year or more to complete their course at a suitable university. Vietnamese students would rather attend a university than a college. The university enjoys more prestige and popularity than colleges.

The second usage is not common. "College" refer to a school in a university, like some in the US. Vietnam National University, Hanoi has 5 colleges in its divisions.

See also


  1. Toby E. Huff (2003), The Rise of Early Modern Science: Islam, China and the West, Cambridge University Press, pp. 77-8
  2. Eton College website using school as the educational institute but College as the name
  3. Lightcap, Brad. The Morrill Act of 1862.
  4. Private Elementary and Secondary Schools search form on the Ministry of Education of Ontario web site—enter "college" in the "name contains" field and check the "secondary" checkbox
  5. Find a School or School Board search form on the Ministry of Education of Ontario web site—click “Secondary” and “Separate”
  6. The Higher Education Register: official register of higher education in Flanders/Belgium
  7. Enseignement supérieur en Communauté française de Belgique

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