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Difference Between Public and Private University

Difference Between Public and Private University

Difference Between Public and Private University

There are several reasons one might want to know the top 5 differences between public and private universities. One of them might be because you want to know which of them would be best for you considering the funding backing your education.

Another reason might be to understand what makes each so different. This is because of the general idea about Private Institutions is that they are run to generate revenue. 

In this write-up, we will be comparing both Private and Public University so you can know which of them is best for you. With that said, let’s get down to it.

Difference between Public and Private University

To understand the difference between the two of these universities, we will compare them based on different criteria.

Source of Funding

This is the most defining difference between both universities. Public Universities are mainly funded by the government of the state they are if they are a state-owned institution or by the Federal Government.

Private University on the other hand is funded by the board that established the school as well as the tuition of the students in the school. 

NOTE: Both Private and Public Universities receive contributions and donations usually in other to get a building in the school named after them.

Degree programs offered

A lot of the Private Universities offer a narrow range of degree programs to choose from compared to Public Universities. There is a wide range of degree programs to choose from in Public Universities.

What this means is before deciding to join a Private University, you must ensure you research the Private University offers the degree program you want to study.

If you cannot, you are better off choosing a Public University as your school of choice since there are many degree programs to choose from.

Cost of Attendance

Cost of Attending a Private and Public University differ greatly. The main reason for this is because of the difference in their source of funding.

While Public Universities receive grants from the government that allows them to charge very low tuition fees from students, this is not the case in Private Universities and Colleges.

The tuition fees to attend Private university is more expensive and this is because of the heavy reliance on Students’ tuition fees to cover the operating expenses of the University.

Hence, to attend a Private University you need to have the financial aid to back you. 


Private Universities tend to be smaller than Public Universities and for good reasons. Because of the wide range of degree programs to choose from, it is not so hard to see why the campus and class size of public Universities are way bigger than that of Private Universities.

Religious Affiliation

Public Universities are bound by the law so that they do not have any affiliation with religion. This means that students are not admitted based on their religious beliefs.

Private Universities on the other hand do not have any legal principle of separation binding them. As a result, being admitted to a Private University might require a student having a specific religious background.

Athletics and Extracurricular Activities

Lastly, students in Private and Public Universities also observe different athletic and Extracurricular activities.

Public universities give students the maximum chance to participate in any extracurricular activity they want. The same can however not be said for Private Schools.


Choosing between the two institutions depends on what criteria you want to consider. Besides the ones mentioned above, there is also the importance of “prestige” which is different for both Private and Public universities.

The type of prestige a university carries is not determined by its source of funding but by its history. The main trick is deciding what you consider very important to have in the university you want to attend.

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