Pursuing higher education opens the doors of opportunity for career advancement. You have a wealth of options, including choosing whether to attend a state college, private college, private university or state university. State colleges and universities are often known as "public" colleges and universities because of their reliance on state government funding for their operation.

State Colleges

State colleges are public institutions. They are considered state colleges (as opposed to state universities) because they are often chartered and funded by state government. There are two types of state colleges: community colleges and four-year colleges leading to bachelor's degrees. Unlike universities, state colleges do not offer graduate degree programs.

Public University

Public universities are large academic institutions made up of several individual colleges. For example, the University of California, Berkeley, is an undergraduate and graduate-level institution made up of the College of Letters and Science, the College of Chemistry, the Haas School of Business, and the College of Engineering, among others. Students who attend the university attend classes in one or more individual college.

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Private University

Private universities are academic institutions that are not chartered by state governments, and do not receive government funding to operate. Private institutions have both undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Several well-known private universities include Stanford University (CA), Columbia University (NY) and Duke University.

Private College

Private colleges are also exempt from many government rules and regulations, since they do not receive government funding. These schools are typically small in size and have small class sizes as a result. Many unique private colleges exist, such as women's colleges, religious colleges and military colleges.

Endowments and Tuition

Private universities typically have larger financial endowments than do other institutions, freeing them from many government rules and regulations. Although they tend to have smaller class sizes than public institutions, they also tend to have higher tuition rates. However, many private universities, such as Harvard University, are able to offer students larger shares of grants than other institutions because of their larger endowments.

About the Author

Nicholas Smith has written political articles for SmithonPolitics.com, "The Daily Californian" and other publications since 2004. He is a former commissioner with the city of Berkeley, Calif. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California-Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from St. John's University School of Law.