Connecticut is recognized for its contributions to higher education, with a long list of Connecticut colleges and universities having opened since the 1800s. Today, Connecticut is home to an estimated 43 degree-granting institutions of higher education, plus even more postsecondary, vocational schools.
Colleges and universities in Connecticut range from private, non-profit institutions to large research universities, nursing schools to art colleges, and everything in between. Today, roughly 41 percent of Connecticut residents over 25 hold at least a bachelor’s degree.
If you are exploring colleges and universities in Connecticut, rest assured you have a variety of options throughout the state. Below, we explore the various types of higher education institutions you may encounter in Connecticut.
Colleges vs. Universities in Connecticut
The terms “college” and “university” are often used interchangeably in everyday conversation, but there are key differences between the two types of schools.
Colleges are typically smaller institutions that emphasize undergraduate education, awarding associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and postsecondary certificates or diplomas. Colleges typically have more intimate campuses, smaller student populations, and fewer program offerings than universities. The benefit of this learning environment is that it often means smaller class sizes and student-to-faculty ratios. Colleges can range in type, but this category includes community colleges and technical schools.
Universities are typically diverse institutions that offer both undergraduate and graduate degree options. This is one of the biggest benefits of attending a university: You can choose from a variety of programs and advance your degree through one institution. By having the option to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree, you can gain access to more lucrative professional opportunities after graduation. Universities often employ highly reputable faculty who are dedicated to providing research, development, and hands-on learning opportunities for students.
Both colleges and universities can be found throughout the state of Connecticut.
Public vs. Private Colleges and Universities in Connecticut
When researching potential schools, consider whether an institution is public or private. In Connecticut, there are 17 public colleges and universities, and even more private institutions throughout the state.
Public colleges and universities are funded by the government (state or local) and usually offer low tuition rates for in-state residents. In Connecticut, a public college or university is defined as “an educational institution whose programs and activities are operated by publicly elected or appointed school officials and which is supported primarily by public funds.” While public, state schools tend to offer low tuition costs, Connecticut statistics report that average tuition and fees for public institutions has risen at a higher rate than the independent, non-profit institutions across the state.
Private colleges and universities rely on non-government funding sources, such as private donations and grants, as well as tuition and fees from students. However, because of this, private institutions are able to offer generous financial aid packages to students in need. Also called “independent institutions,” Connecticut defines a private college or university as “an educational institution controlled by a private individual(s) or by a nongovernmental agency, usually supported primarily by other than public funds, and operated by other than publicly elected or appointed officials. These institutions may be either for-profit or not-for-profit.”
This brings us to another differentiator: Non-profit and for-profit colleges and universities.
For-Profit vs. Not-for-Profit Colleges and Universities in Connecticut
In Connecticut, there are an array of private institutions offering high-quality education to students. However, some are for-profit and some are non-profit. What is the difference, exactly?
For-profit colleges and universities distribute any profits to their various owners and investors, and to non-education expenses. For example, profits collected may be used to pay for teacher salaries, distribute marketing campaigns for the school, and recruit new students.
Non-profit colleges and universities, on the other hand, reinvest their profits back into their institution. This means that any profits received go back into the school to enhance the educational experience. Funds may be used to improve the curriculum, classrooms, lab equipment, student services, or to hire more faculty. According to TheBestSchools.org, “Many employers regard degrees from non-profit schools as more reputable due to the funding that these institutions invest into high-quality educational programs.”
State-wide statistics show that private, non-profit colleges and universities in Connecticut have maintained stable graduation rates over the last 10 years, while for-profit schools have seen a notable decline. As you research potential colleges and universities in CT, be sure to ask about their graduation and student success rates. Additionally, consider asking about:
- Tuition costs, including what you can expect to pay out-of-pocket and any surprise fees
- Whether your credits can be transferred to another institution (not always an option at for-profit schools)
- Their mission, values, and approach to higher education and career training
These factors will help you decide on the right type of college or university for you.
Examples of Types of Universities and Colleges in Connecticut
Now that we’ve covered the basic categories of postsecondary institutions, let’s discuss some of the types of universities and colleges you may come across. Here is a list of various types of colleges in Connecticut.
1. Community Colleges
Community colleges typically offer two-year degrees to students and are seen as a kickstart to a longer-term education. Students in community colleges often earn their associate degree before transferring to a university or college where they can pursue a bachelor’s program. Community colleges offer low tuition rates, allowing students to save money and figure out their career goals before transferring to another institution.
2. Technical Schools (Vocational Schools)
Technical schools – also called vocational schools or trade schools – are a type of college that offer career-focused training programs to students interested in a specific trade. For example, students interested in becoming an electrician, mechanic, chef, or welder may consider a technical school where they can learn career-specific skills and credentials. Technical schools differ from other types of colleges in that they do not offer a broader education—they are focused on the fundamentals for a given career. Many technical and trade schools do not award high-level degrees, but rather associate degrees, certificates, and diplomas.
3. Public Universities
Public universities are often called “state schools,” and refer to large institutions that are funded by the government. As noted earlier, these schools offer affordable tuition rates to residents of the state. Public universities also offer a diversity of programs, a large student body, and connections with employers and professional networks throughout the state.
4. Private, Non-Profit Institutions
Private, non-profit colleges and universities can be found throughout Connecticut, and are a popular choice among students. These institutions offer high-quality degree programs, rigorous coursework, and a relatively small student population in comparison to a public school. This means students have the opportunity to connect with their professors and peers more easily. Private, non-profit colleges and universities also offer generous financial aid packages and student services.
5. Career-Focused Colleges and Universities
As described above, Connecticut is home to many technical schools, vocational colleges, and trade school programs—all of which are highly career-focused. However, there are also several colleges and universities that offer a career-focused education. The difference is that the colleges and universities that do so offer more advanced degrees in these fields of study. On top of certificates, career-focused colleges and universities, like Goodwin, offer associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degree programs that teach the skills employers are looking for today. They are geared to specific career pathways and interests, whether that be nursing, manufacturing, human services, or anything in between. Learn about Goodwin’s career-focused degree programs here.
6. Liberal Arts Colleges
Liberal arts colleges are common in the United States, and Connecticut is home to quite a few. Unlike career-focused colleges and universities, liberal arts schools provide students with a vast curriculum that spans outside their major or specialty. For example, in a liberal arts college, you can expect to take required courses in history, language, literature, mathematics, and more. Students choose liberal arts colleges to explore their career interests and gain a broader knowledge of various fields. However, students who have their sights set on a career path should consider a career-focused school, where their education will fully align with their professional goals.
What is Goodwin University?
Goodwin is a private, non-profit, career-focused university in Connecticut. For over 20 years, Goodwin has been recognized for its ability to provide career-focused and hands-on educational opportunities for students. With an emphasis on career readiness, Goodwin has connected thousands of students with employers and opportunities throughout the state of Connecticut.
Goodwin University is comprised of three schools of academic discipline: the School of Nursing and Health Professions, the School of Business, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing, and the School of Applied Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. Each school offers a range of career-oriented programs.
Goodwin University is also focused on ensuring student success. Through a diverse community of students, an array of service offerings, a network of reputable faculty, flexible course scheduling, and a versatile teaching philosophy, our goal is to encourage every student to reach their highest academic, professional, and personal potential.
To support our students’ success, Goodwin University boasts one of the lowest tuition costs among private, non-profit colleges in the state. Our tuition is always transparent for prospective students, so you can know what you will spend prior to starting classes. The vast majority of students at Goodwin receive financial aid in the form of grants or scholarships.
Are you interested in learning more about Goodwin University, or your other options for higher education in Connecticut? Contact us today at 800-889-3282 to learn more.