There are a wide range of institutions of higher learning in the United States, with some 5,300 universities in the United States, public and private universities, liberal arts colleges and community colleges each playing different roles.

American Public University

There are several thousand universities in the U.S. There is at least one state university in every state in the United States, and a number of state-funded states, such as California, have three public higher education systems: the University of California, California State University, and the California Community College system. The well-known public universities in the United States have a complete range of disciplines, prominent disciplines and high academic standing throughout the United States. Almost all American universities charge fees, except for the five military schools funded by the federal government. Public universities in the United States usually have much lower tuition fees than private universities, and students often pay tuition fees with scholarships, student loans, and various grants. The U.S. News and World Report, which exclusively ranks U.S. public universities, has also coined the term 'public Ivy' referring to first-rate public universities that rival the famous Ivy League schools.

American private university

There are many private universities in the United States, some of which are religious and/or for-profit. The biggest difference between private universities and public schools is that of investors. Public universities are funded by state finances and private universities are funded by private institutions. Therefore, private school tuitions are higher than public schools’. Private universities rely on the market to survive and set up courses to meet market demand. Curriculum innovation and teaching quality ensure their survival. Private universities lead the nation's higher education rankings. The Ivy League is a private university federation of eight colleges and universities in the United States. They are: Harvard University in Massachusetts, Yale University in Connecticut, Columbia University in New York, Princeton University in New Jersey, Brown University in Rhode Island, Cornell University in New York, Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, and the University of Pennsylvania in Pennsylvania. The eight schools share many characteristics in common: they are among the top and most difficult universities in the United States; they are the alliance of universities around the world that produces the most Rhodes scholars; the most heavily subsidized institutions in the world, with excellent students and teachers. They are also the oldest universities in the United States: seven of the eight schools were established during the British colonial era. These eight universities are often compared to the two top polytechnic universities in the United States: Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology. These eight Ivy League and two polytechnic universities are often referred to as the 'Top Ten American Universities.' These prestigious private universities also often have expensive tuition. (“The higher the ranking of the school, the more expensive tuition” seems to have become an unwritten law for American universities.)

College of Arts and Sciences

Most liberal arts colleges are private - only a handful of them are public. The four-year undergraduate education in schools mainly refers to the undergraduate specialized academic research schools, focusing on ability and quality training. The content of this college education consists of three major sections: science, social sciences and humanities, with a focus on liberal education, general education and quality education, such as the world-renowned Williams College (Williams College). This type of American school mainly offers bachelor's degrees, though some liberal arts colleges also award master's degrees. However, there are a few professional schools in the liberal arts colleges such as School of Business, School of Education, School of Law, School of Music, School of Medicine (Medical School), School of Engineering, School of Communication and so on. They are considered by Americans to be examples of quality undergraduate education.

Community College

The two-year community colleges are mostly public. Community colleges offer courses broadly divided into two categories: transitional liberal arts courses, equivalent to the first two years of a four-year university. Students can transfer to 4-year university or college to continue their studies, where their transfer credits will be accepted (generally more recognized by four-year colleges within the state). The other category includes professional, vocational, and technical courses, where graduates are employed directly after graduation. 2-year community colleges usually only offer associate’s degrees. The size of these schools is small and their tuition fees are the cheapest in the entire U.S. higher education system. Compared with other universities, the admission standards are slightly lower.