Universities in the USA

Choosing a university in the USA

It’s important to understand all your options. One of the most common choices international students make is between a private and public university. This article explains the main differences between those two types of universities.

We are going to talk about their differences in:

  • Tuition fees
  • Size
  • Student profile
  • Quality & Prestige

Tuition fees

Public Universities, also known as state universities, are subsidized by state governments. They usually have lower tuition fees rates than most of the private colleges and feature two different tuition fee bands:

  • For in-state students (lower rate)
  • Out-of-state applicants. International students fall under the second category and pay higher tuition fees than local students. However, as an international student, you can apply for a scholarship if your institution provides one.

Private universities are funded through various personal contributions like tuition fees and alumni donations. They tend to have higher tuition fee rates than public universities. International students applying to private schools can qualify for financial aid to reduce the cost of attendance.


Public Universities are usually larger than private ones enrolling 20,000 or more students. Private universities typically have enrollments under 20,000 students.Consequently, public universities tend to have more diverse campus life featuring more student clubs, societies, and organizations.


Public universities tend to have more local students since they offer lower tuition fee rates for in-state students. Private universities usually attract students from all over the USA and thus, students are more geographically diverse.

Quality and prestige

Private universities constitute the top of the national ranking. These are Ivy League universities and other schools like MIT, Stanford, Caltech. At the same time, there is a fair number of public universities that are as prestigious and competitive. These include UCLA, the University of Michigan, the University of Virginia, and many more.



Public/ state universities

Private universities

Tuition fees



Scholarships availability




20,000 students or more

20,000 students or less

Student composition

Largely local students

Various demographically

Contact Country Country Country
Alfreds Futterkiste Maria Anders Germany Germany Germany Germany
Centro comercial Moctezuma Francisco Chang Mexico Mexico Mexico Mexico
Alfreds Futterkiste Maria Anders Germany Germany Germany Germany
Centro comercial Moctezuma Francisco Chang Mexico Mexico Mexico Mexico
Alfreds Futterkiste Maria Anders Germany Germany Germany Germany
Centro comercial Moctezuma Francisco Chang Mexico Mexico Mexico Mexico

How to choose the right type of university?

Future outcome

The first important step is identifying your desired area of study. When searching for a programme on uniqway, you can check the careers available after each course of study, approximate industry salaries, and career outcomes. Check out our Application Process page for a detailed guide on how to choose a degree/programme.

Cost of tuition

The information about tuition rates is available on uniqway program pages and university websites. Remember that although private universities usually charge higher tuition fees, it’s good to check financial aid and scholarship opportunities they offer for international students.


Geographic location can significantly impact your overall university experience, as well as the cost of living and future career opportunities. When choosing a university, consider whether you prefer anurban, suburban or rural setting. Do you prefer a small student town or a vibrant city? What extracurricular cultural and sporting activities do you enjoy? Are they readily available?

Campus Life and Size

Another important factor to consider is the size of the university and its campus. A smaller university or college will probably have smaller class sizes and thus allow for a more individualized approach to each student. At the same time, larger universities have a more diverse campus life and more student clubs, organizations, and other activities to sign up for.

Did you know?

Liberal Arts Colleges

When talking about university education in the USA, it’s also important to note that there are many Liberal Arts Colleges. They provide a unique educational system featuring a multidisciplinary approach and allowing students to specialize in several fields of study in the liberal arts and sciences. Although liberal arts colleges exist in other countries, this type of university is especially popular and common in the USA. Most liberal arts colleges only offer undergraduate degree programs. Students in liberal arts programs get a well-rounded education taking courses from arts, humanities, and sciences before they choose their area(s) of specialization.