Where to study in the USA? University, college or junior college?

In the United States there are different types of universities, so if you are interested in going to study in the USA we recommend you to read this article to learn about the different options.

Do you know the differences between “University” and “College”? Do you know what “Community Colleges” are or what they offer?
Here are 3 options:

Where to study in the USA? University, college or junior college?These would be the institutions we know in Spain as Universities. They offer a wide range of undergraduate, postgraduate, masters and doctoral programs. They are universities with a large number of students, and in addition, they can be public or private

If there is one thing that differentiates American universities from Spanish universities, it is the educational system. In the United States you study general subjects in the first and/or second year, not so specific to the career you are going to pursue. To the point that an ADE student can study the same subjects as a Chemical Engineering student. They advocate that any graduate student should have certain general notions. There is also something that distinguishes American university education from Spanish university education, and this is that teaching is given in a much more practical way.  Classes are more participatory and assignments and projects carry more weight than an exam. The majority of Spanish students, if not all, pass all the subjects and do not find it torturous to pass the degree in the established years, which are 4 for most degrees. 

Finally, it is worth noting the international prestige of American universities. In the QS World University Rankings, 5  American universities appear in the top 10 worldwide. 

Access to top universities in the USA is not so easy, it requires a great preparation, as well as a large budget. At MAE we have direct access, without the need to take entrance tests or exams, to universities within the Top 150 in the USA. We call this program GlobalMAE and you can read more about it here.


Where to study in the USA? University, college or junior college?You may have heard more than once that there are universities that are not called “University” but have the word “College”; for example, “Boston College” which is not the same as “Boston University”.

The main difference between these types of institutions is the academic offerings. The colleges offer bachelor’s degrees, while the universities offer bachelor’s, postgraduate, master’s and doctoral degrees. In addition, they are more focused on liberal arts, humanities and general education careers, rather than technical and/or specific careers.

The number of students in college is much lower than in a university.


This is an option that is becoming more and more common among Spanish students leaving for the USA.

This is a type of institution that allows you to graduate from a 2-year degree. “Associate Degree in the area of your choice. It would be equivalent to what was a diploma or an advanced vocational training degree at present. But with the great difference that you can continue your studies at the university, accessing the third year of your degree directly.  

We recommend this option to those students who:

  • have a lower budget but are totally convinced that they want to go to study in the USA.
  • students who do not have good grades on their school transcript,
  • athletes who have had a bad season and want to improve their marks in order to get better offers from universities.

What are the advantages of a Junior college?

  • Associate Degree in 2 years
  • OPT (permission to work in the U.S.) after finishing the 2 years, then you can go back to school and finish a degree.
  • Possibility of transferring to a university after the first year
  • You can improve your grades and thus gain access to a university that did not accept you before because of your grades.
  • More economical than a university
  • Coaches scout NJCAA leagues for new recruits
  • You enter your third year and end up graduating with the same degree as a student who started in the first year at a university.

Here are the 3 university options

  • Where to study in the USA? University, college or junior college?4 years of University or College :
    You graduate after 4 years with a Bachelor Degree
  • 2 years of Community College + 2 years university:
    You may or may not graduate with an Associate Degree (not required) and then transfer to a third year university to obtain a bachelor’s degree in 4 years. 
  • 1 year community college + 3 years university :
    This option would be to do a first year of college credits with the clear objective of transferring to a university the following year.
    It is intended primarily for:
  • Athletes who want to improve their marks and college coaches can get a better look at them and thus get a good offer at the college they want. 
  • Students who need to improve their GPA in order to be admitted to other universities.

Academic, international and athletic scholarships are available at universities, colleges and community colleges. They can be combined with each other. The MAE Sports & Education team works daily to get the best option for each family, according to the profile of each student and their preferences, advising at all times.