Difference Wiki

College vs. School: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on December 12, 2023
A college is an institution for higher education often providing degrees, whereas a school is an educational institution for various grade levels.

Key Differences

Colleges typically refer to institutions offering higher education, often at the undergraduate or graduate level. While, schools are educational institutions that can range from primary to secondary levels.
Colleges usually offer degree programs leading to bachelors, masters, or doctorates. However, schools, particularly high schools and below, focus on a general education curriculum without offering degrees.
The student age range in colleges is typically older, starting from late teens to adult learners. Whereas, schools cater to a younger demographic, from children to teenagers.
Colleges often specialize in certain fields like arts, sciences, or professional studies. Schools provide a broader, more generalized education covering a wide range of subjects.

Comparison Chart

Educational Level

Higher education (undergraduate and graduate)
Primary to secondary education

Degree Programs

Offers degrees like bachelor’s, master’s
Does not offer degrees

Student Age Range

Older students, from late teens to adults
Children to teenagers


Specialized in specific fields or studies
Broad, general education across various subjects


More autonomous in curricula
Follows standardized curricula

College and School Definitions


A college can be part of a larger university.
The business college is one of the many colleges at the university.


A school provides primary or secondary education.
She teaches math at the local high school.


A college is a place for advanced learning and skill development.
He went to college to study computer science.


A school follows a standardized curriculum.
The school curriculum includes science, math, and language arts.


A college grants academic degrees.
After four years in college, she earned her degree.


A school is a place for foundational learning.
The school offers a diverse set of subjects for all students.


A college is an institution for higher education and research.
She received her bachelor's degree from a prestigious college.


A school is an institution for educating children.
The new elementary school in town has a great reputation.


A college offers specialized degree programs.
The college offers a renowned program in marine biology.


A school caters to the developmental stages of children and teenagers.
Their school has excellent programs for early childhood education.


An institution of higher learning that grants the bachelor's degree in liberal arts or science or both.


An institution for the instruction of children or people under college age.


An institution for instruction in a skill or business
A secretarial school.
A karate school.


What is a school?

An educational institution for children and teenagers.

Do colleges offer degree programs?

Yes, colleges offer various degree programs.

What is a college?

An institution for higher education and research.

Are schools part of the higher education system?

No, schools are for primary and secondary education.

Can colleges specialize in certain fields?

Yes, colleges often have specialized fields of study.

What age group do colleges cater to?

Colleges cater to late teens and adult learners.

Do schools offer degrees?

No, schools do not offer degrees.

Are college students older than school students?

Typically, yes, college students are older.

Do schools provide general education?

Yes, schools provide a broad general education.

Are college and school used interchangeably?

In some contexts, but they generally refer to different education levels.

Can a college be part of a university?

Yes, colleges can be part of larger universities.

Are colleges autonomous in their curricula?

Often, colleges have more autonomy in curriculum design.

What age group do schools cater to?

Schools cater to children and teenagers.

Can schools specialize in certain subjects?

Some schools might specialize, but they generally offer a broad curriculum.

Can someone go to college after school?

Yes, college typically follows after completing school.

Do schools prepare students for college?

Yes, schools aim to prepare students for higher education.

Do schools follow a standardized curriculum?

Yes, schools typically follow a standardized curriculum.

Is a college the same as a university?

Not exactly; a college can be part of a university.

Do colleges have a wider range of courses than schools?

Yes, colleges offer a wider and more specialized range of courses.

Is the social environment different in colleges compared to schools?

Yes, colleges often have a more diverse and mature social environment.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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