Types of Colleges - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Types of Colleges

What do you think of when you imagine going to college? Most think of a four-year college or university. Although an excellent option, that's not the only type of school. The most common types are:

Private Colleges and Universities

Private schools rely on tuition, fees and other private sources for funding.

  • Private schools offer undergraduate students a bachelor's (four-year) degree. Associate (two-year) or advanced degrees may be offered.
  • A broad base of courses is available (such as social sciences, humanities, sciences and businesses).
  • Courses of study begin with general education requirements; students choose at least one area of in-depth study as their major.
  • Total enrollment is generally lower than at public universities.

Find Iowa private schools.

Public Universities

Public universities in Iowa get much of their funding from state government.

  • Iowa's public universities offer several levels of degrees (bachelor's, master's and doctorate).
  • A liberal arts college as well as professional colleges and graduate programs are included.
  • The universities are divided into several colleges such as the College of Business or the College of Education.
  • A wide variety of academic classes is offered.
  • In general, universities are larger than liberal arts colleges (although there are smaller universities) with larger classes.

Find Iowa public universities.

Community or Junior Colleges

Community colleges allow you to earn a degree or transfer in two years.

  • Community colleges may offer an associate (two-year) degree, certificate or diploma program.
  • Specialized occupational preparation is offered.
  • Many students attend before transferring to a four-year college or university.
  • Class size is generally small, and students are able to receive individual attention.
  • Students often choose community college as an affordable option.

Find Iowa community colleges.

Business, Health Profession and Technical Colleges

Specialized colleges train you for specific careers.

  • These schools may offer several levels of degrees (certificate, associate, bachelor's, master's and doctorate).
  • Specialized occupational preparation is offered.
  • Class size varies by institution.
  • Length of program varies by major.

Find Iowa technical schools.

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