Last Updated: April 02, 2022
Public vs Private Universities
Students who have completed their schooling will be eventually facing the question of taking up higher education for better career prospects in their life. An undergraduate degree and oftentimes even a postgraduate degree are necessary for people to get specialized jobs in different fields. When choosing the option of higher studies, the factors one will have to consider include the financial requirements, programs offered, and sometimes even research opportunities if one is planning to pursue research in their chosen field of study.
Most of these factors are dependent on the kind of funding the university receives. Public universities and private universities differ mainly in the source of their funding which thereby determines the facilities they offer to candidates. The features of both these institutions differ and students will have to carefully choose from them based on their requirements.
Public University in the US
Public universities in the country are educational institutions that are funded by the state government. They offer undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs along with diplomas, certification programs, etc. to all candidates. Most public institutions will have a deep-rooted history that can go decades and sometimes even centuries back. These universities mostly focus on programs in the liberal arts discipline more than professional degrees.
Benefits of Studying in Public University
The benefits of studying in a public university include-
- Public universities allow students to choose from a large variety of majors and minors in almost every field of study. Students will often be able to even switch their field of study in the early stages until they find the best choice for themselves.
- Since education in public universities is funded by the state government, the tuition fee will be extremely cheaper than in other educational institutions. Students will be able to afford their education here without gathering a large sum of debt before graduation.
- Public universities also have great research and lab facilities with most of the research programs being fully funded by the government.
- Education in public universities is mostly student-centric and is focused on creating independent professionals or scholars within the respective field of study. Such institutions provide students with the space of learning freely with the occasional option of seeking out professors and other academicians.
Private University in the US
Private universities are of two kinds with one being non-profit and the other for-profit. The non-profit institutions receive funding from various sources and are solely focused on offering high-quality education to candidates. The for-profit institutions receive funding mainly through the tuition fees that students pay along with alumni endowments and other extra fees levied from students. This results in high tuition fees for all programs offered in such institutions. Private institutions mostly offer professional degrees and other science-related degrees more than liberal arts degrees.
Benefits of Studying in Private University
The benefits of studying at a private university include-
- Private universities offer the best professional degree programs. They will also be focusing on the future career prospects of students by even providing on-campus recruitments.
- These universities have smaller class sizes which allow students to have a closely-knit student circle and more opportunities of interacting with the professors.
- Professors in private universities often provide an interactive atmosphere to students and students will often not be expected to learn by themselves. Assistance will always be provided for grooming them into better professionals.
- Private universities have the same tuition fee for both in-state and out-of-state students making it an ideal option for international students.
- These universities also provide students with financial assistance which can go up to 48% of the tuition fee they have to pay.
Differences Between Public and Private Universities
Public universities and private universities mainly differ in the aspects of funding, tuition fee, class size, etc. The universities will also differ in the programs that are offered and the financial aid provided to candidates. The differences include-
- Tuition Fee- The tuition fee in both private and public universities differ a lot due to the different funding both these institutions receive. Since public universities are funded by the state government, they offer education at a cheaper rate than private universities whose main funding is from the tuition fee students pay. Public universities are the most affordable option for all students. The fee here is different for in-state and out-of-state students with the latter having to pay a higher tuition fee. Private universities tend to have the same tuition fee for both in-state and out-of-state students.
- Degree Programs- Public universities tend to have plenty of degree programs one can choose from in every field of study. They will offer programs in liberal arts, sciences, law, medicine, etc. with each field branching out into different disciplines. One will have different majors and minors to choose from with options of changing from one field to another if they are uncertain about their chosen field of study. Private universities tend to have fewer options among degree programs with most of the programs being professional. They also have lesser programs in liberal arts when compared to STEM and business programs. Candidates who are certain about the program they want to choose will be able to choose private institutions whereas those who are uncertain will have better opportunities if they choose public universities.
- Class Size- Since public universities have a large student population and n number of degree options, most classes with have at least 60 students. Classes will most often even have students that have not taken the course as part of their official academic syllabus. This implies that students who study in public universities will have lesser chances of getting individual attention from their professors unless they actively seek it. Private universities, on the other hand, have smaller class sizes making it a tightly knit setup. Students will be able to actively interact with both their classmates and their professors most of the time.
- Regional/National Accreditation- Universities are required to get regional or national accreditation for the programs they offer to be of international value. Regional accreditation is considered to be of a higher standard than national accreditation. Public universities are mostly regionally accredited which implies that their programs will be of higher quality and rigorous standards that have been maintained over time. While some private universities can be regionally accredited, most of them are only nationally accredited. This implies that though their programs are of value, it is not equal to that of public universities.
- Funding- One of the main differences between private and public universities lies in the source of the funding they receive. Public universities are funded by state governments whereas private universities are mostly funded by the tuition fee students pay or even through individual donors
- Financial Aid- Public universities and private universities both offer federal financial aid to candidates. But due to a large student population in public universities, most students will not be able to get substantial financial aid for their studies even though their tuition fee is less. Public universities generally offer students with on-campus jobs that one can do like teaching assistantships, etc. for which students can apply. Private universities, on the other hand, provide better financial aid that can substantially reduce the fee one has to pay. The tuition discounts at private universities can even go up to 48% depending on the university.
Choosing Between Public and Private University
The choice between public and private universities can be made by candidates only by focusing on their personal requirements from the university they go to. There is no objectively better place of study since it is dependent on the student and their academic interests and financial condition. Students who are undecided about their major and minor will do well if they attend public universities since they offer plenty of options and allows students to change from one major to another. Public universities can also be chosen by candidates who wish to learn independently without being pestered by their professors.
Private universities are more suited for candidates who are sure about the field of study they want to enroll in. It is also ideal for students who work well in interactive environments and who require extra assistance and care from faculty members. Private universities can also be affiliated with religious institutions, unlike public universities which are all secular. Ultimately, the choice will have to be made based on which of these factors the student prioritizes.