Why are some colleges private and others public? Are colleges and universities the same thing? What makes one type of school different from another? 

It's important to understand the various categories of schools and how they might differ. This will be helpful when trying to decide which school is the right fit for you.  

Schools can be broken down into different categories, including private and public schools, universities versus liberal arts colleges, and four-year and two-year colleges. One school may fit into more than one category. For example, Johns Hopkins University is a private, research university and Morgan State University is a public, historically Black college (HBCU). 

Types of Colleges & Universities 

Public Institutions

Public institutions are supported by state and local funds, and usually offer lower tuition rates, especially for students who are in-state residents.

Public Institutions in Maryland
  • Bowie State University

  • Coppin State University

  • Frostburg State University

  • Salisbury University

  • Towson University

  • University of Baltimore

  • University of Maryland-Baltimore 

  • University of Maryland-Baltimore County

  • University of Maryland, College Park

  • University of Maryland, Eastern Shore

For a full list, and to find out more about Maryland public institutions visit:


Private Institutions

Private institutions are supported primarily by tuition and private contributions. Private colleges and universities tend to cost more than public institutions, but may offer more scholarships and financial aid.

Private Institutions in Maryland
  • Goucher College

  • Johns Hopkins University

  • Loyola University Maryland

  • McDaniel College

  • Stevenson University

Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs) 

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) were established before 1964, to serve predominately African-American students during a time when they were barred from attending most institutions of higher education. HBCUs have always been open to students of all races, however they are uniquely invested in creating an academic environment that supports the needs, interests, and history of Black students. 

HBCUS in Maryland & Washington, DC:

Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Howard University, Morgan State University,

University of the District of Columbia, University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. 

Full List of HBCUs By State 

10 Reasons to Attend an HBCU 

Four-Year Colleges or Universities 

Four-year colleges and universities offer a wide range of academic programs that students can study. Students can earn a bachelor's degree in their chosen course of study. Both universities and liberal arts colleges fall into this category.  

  • After graduation, students enter the job market or go on to pursue advanced degrees. 

  • Most offer on-campus housing.

  • The cost of four-year college can be significant; however, financial aid is usually offered.  

Local Four-Year Options  
  • Coppin State University 

  • Johns Hopkins University 

  • Morgan State University

  • University of Baltimore 

  • University of Maryland, Baltimore County 

  • University of Maryland, College Park 

Two-Year Colleges 

At two-year colleges, students earn an associate's degree or a certificate focused on a specific career. Local community colleges are the most common type of two-year college. Vocational-technology colleges and career colleges are other types of two-year colleges. 

Local Two Year Options  
  • After graduation students either enter the job market or transfer into a four-year college.

  • Most do not offer campus housing; however, there are two-year colleges that do.

  • Tuition is usually much less than at four-year colleges, and financial aid is often available as well. 

  • Allegany College of Maryland*  

  • Baltimore City Community College 

  • Community College of Baltimore County 

  • Garrett College* 

  • Howard Community College  

       *Offers on-campus housing 

Colleges & Universities with a Special Focus 

These colleges and universities focus on the needs of specific populations or offer courses focused on a particular area of interest. 

Art Colleges: Art colleges and conservatories focus on the arts.  Along with standard coursework, these schools offer training and degrees in things like photography, design, theater, visual arts, and music. Explore Maryland's own Maryland Institute College of Art.

Single-Sex Colleges: The overwhelming majority of single-sex colleges are women's colleges. These schools are most often small liberal arts colleges. There are only three remaining all-male colleges in the United States. Notre Dame of Maryland University is a women's college, although they offer co-ed programs at the graduate and professional level.  


All-Male Colleges 

Morehouse College (HBCU)

Hampden-Sydney College

Wabash College


Full List of Women's Colleges

Top Reasons to Consider a Women's College