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Types of Postsecondary Schools

It is important to attend a school that matches your educational and career goals. There are a variety of postsecondary schools that offer different programs, and certificates and/or degrees. Below are descriptions of various types of post-secondary schools.

Post-secondary schools can be divided into four categories:
Vocational, Technical, Business, and Trade Schools
Two-Year Community/Junior Colleges
Four-Year Colleges and Universities
Professional Schools

Vocational, Technical, Business, and Trade Schools
Vocational, technical, business, and trade schools are typically open to students with or without a high school diploma and to all that apply. Some schools are privately owned and operated, and others are public schools. These schools offer a wide variety of specialized training courses and programs, which is ideal for students who know exactly what they want to do and have chosen a specific occupation. Some schools specialize in only one area, while others provide a wide variety of programs. The length of a program will vary between a few weeks, months, or couple of years.

After completing the programs, students will receive a diploma, a certificate, a license, or an Associate’s degree. Some of the credits earned at these schools may transfer to four-year colleges or universities. The main appeals of these programs are their concentrated curriculum, job training focus, and short course length, which prepares students to enter the job market.

Two-Year Community/Junior Colleges
Community/Junior Colleges are open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED. Community/Junior colleges are public institutions that offer two-year liberal arts programs and/or specialized job training programs. Most programs are designed to prepare students for employment after graduating. Many community colleges also have extracurricular activities such as athletic programs, as well as theater, music, and art activities.

Some students will attend a community/junior college to enhance their current skills and abilities through general education, vocational, and developmental courses. Students will receive a certificate or an Associate’s degree upon completion of the academic program. After graduating from a community/junior college, many students then transfer to a four-year college or university to continue their education. Some credits from many of the programs are transferable to four-year colleges and universities.

Four-Year Colleges and Universities
Colleges and universities are more selective in accepting students than the previous two types of schools. Colleges and universities may be public, private nonprofit, or private for–profit. Some are affiliated with a religious denomination. A wide variety of courses and programs are offered at these institutions that leads to a Bachelor’s degree, typically within four-years. Many also offer graduate programs (following completion of a Bachelor's degree) with opportunities to earn a Master's degree, Doctorate, or Professional degree. Some institutions also offer a two-year Associates degree.

Understanding the difference between a college and university:
Colleges are smaller than universities and usually offer four-year Bachelor’s degrees. Some also offer a two-year Associate’s and Master’s degrees. Colleges can be specialized (for example, in nursing) or they can offer a broad curriculum.

Universities can be quite large and consist of several under-graduate and graduate schools, colleges, departments or faculties (School of Engineering, College of Business, College of Liberal Arts, Faculty of Science). Universities offer several types of degrees (such as Associate, Bachelor, Master, Doctoral, and /or Professional Degrees). These institutions offer a large course selection and may have extensive resources. Class size varies, depending on the size of the university, the subject area, and the course level.
Colleges and universities are either public or private institutions.
Public Institutions
Public institutions are funded by their state through tax dollars, and are generally less expensive than private institutions. Public institutions are required to accept all eligible students. Tuition for in-state students (residents of the state) is much lower than tuition for out-of-state students (residents from another state).

Private Institutions
Private institutions are funded through tuition, endowments, and donations; they are not tax-supported. The tuition at private institutions tends to be more expensive than public schools. Although, private institutions’ tuition is higher, don’t rule them out. Private colleges can often offer enough financial aid to make their school affordable for students to attend.

Professional Schools
Professional schools are special departments (colleges, departments, schools) within a university, in which students may study to be a lawyer (Law School), doctor (Medical School), veterinarian (Veterinary School), dentist (Dental School) or business person (Business School). Students are admitted to a professional school after completing a Bachelor's degree.

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Types of Degrees

Written by: Sedgwick Hines Copyright 2004 AvScholars Publishing, LLC. All Rights Reserved.



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