When it comes to higher education options in the United States, there is a plethora of institutions to choose from. This vast array of choices can be overwhelming for international students seeking to understand the differences between various types of universities. One common question asked by these students is: what sets public and private universities apart?
One of the most apparent distinctions lies in the cost. Public universities tend to be less expensive than their private counterparts. While private universities can demand a price tag of over $100,000 for a four-year degree, public universities offer a more affordable alternative. Private universities, however, often attract a more geographically diverse student body, as their tuition fees remain the same for all students, regardless of their location. On the other hand, public universities tend to be more demographically diverse due to their lower tuition costs.
A public university, also known as a state university, receives funding from the government of the respective state in which it is located. For example, UCLA is a public university funded by the state of California. Each state in the USA has its own public university or college.
- University of West Georgia
- University of Florida ELI
- University of North Alabama
- Los Angeles City College
- South Dakota State University
- University of North Carolina at Pembroke
- Mission College
- Los Angeles Pierce College (CA)
- Santa Monica College
- University of California, Irvine
- Olympic College
- California State University at Dominguez Hills
Private universities, unlike their public counterparts, do not rely on government funding or operations. For instance, Loyola Marymount University in California is not funded by the state but instead receives partial funding from private donors. Likewise, every state in the USA has private universities or colleges.
- University of San Diego
- Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies
- Manhattan College
- Berkeley College
- Northwest School
- American University – International Accelerator
- Baylor University
- University of Tampa
- Lipscomb University
- Western New England University
If you missed our informative live session on understanding the U.S. Education System, make sure to rewatch it at your convenience.
Choosing Between Public and Private Universities
Now, the question remains: how do you decide between a public and private university? Consider what aspects are important to you when selecting a college or university:
- Size: If you prefer a large campus with a vibrant community, a public university may be an ideal choice. On the other hand, if you thrive in a smaller environment, a private university or college might be more suitable.
- Cost: Public universities, regardless of your place of residence, are generally more affordable. However, if cost is not a significant concern, exploring private universities will broaden your options.
- Major: If you have a specific major, degree, or program in mind, ensure that the private universities on your list offer it before applying. Public universities often provide a wider range of options, a larger faculty, and more graduate programs.
Be sure to check out our other articles:
- Scholarships for Every Type of Student Who Wishes to Study in the USA
- How to Obtain Your U.S. Student Visa
- An Introduction to GPA
- Is Pursuing an MBA the Right Choice for You?
The United States boasts many highly reputable private and public universities. While the top 19 institutions, according to the U.S. News Best Colleges rankings, are private universities, it is important to note that there are also numerous prestigious public universities in the USA. A lower tuition cost does not necessarily indicate a lower quality education.