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Undergraduate vs graduate vs postgraduate?

In the US, do these different types of students attend the same departments? I have visited several websites of American universities and I have the impression that graduate "schools" are somehow separate from undergraduate "colleges". Is that always the case.

9 Answers

  • ?
    Lv 5
    1 month ago

    In America, a student can attend a 4-year college to earn a Bachelors Degree and a Master's Degree.  If the student wants to go into the medical field (as being a doctor), then they must go to a Medical School AFTER the 4-year college.

  • ?
    Lv 4
    1 month ago

    Graduate schools are simply the divisions of universities that award what the British call "post-graduate degrees".  We just call them "graduate degrees". 

    The term is used somewhat generically here. It may refer to a medical school, law school (law and medicine are graduate degrees here), or any other graduate professional school at a university, or it may refer to the graduate program in a given academic department.  For example, the department in which I earned my PhD awarded both undergraduate and graduate degrees.  When I refer to having been in "grad school," I am talking about earning my PhD in the history department of a university, where, incidentally, I  taught undergraduates taking history classes as a requirement of earning my graduate degree.

    "College" in the US also has more than one meaning.  At a university, the graduate school of medicine might be called the  "College of Medicine," and the university's undergraduate division as a whole could be called the "College of Arts and Sciences" or just the "undergraduate college."  A "college" might also be a residence hall at a university.

    And, of course, a 4-year "liberal arts college" awards bachelor's degrees but only rarely any graduate degrees.

  • 1 month ago

    There are two types of graduate programs. 

    1. One is what I'll call "academic." These are Master's degrees and PhDs in academic subjects such as biology, history, chemistry, English literature, etc. 

    These are *not* separate from undergraduate colleges. Undergraduate seniors often share classes with graduate students. Graduate students will act as teaching assistants for the lower-level undergraduate classes, and will work for the professors as research assistants.  

    2. The other is what I'll call "professional." These are Master's and Doctorate degrees in professional subjects. Examples include law, medicine, and pharmacy. 

    The professional graduate degrees are separate schools. 

    That said:

    3. Certain "professional" colleges often include both undergraduate and graduate degrees. These may include nursing, education, engineering, or social work. 

  • Rita
    Lv 6
    1 month ago

    An undergraduate degree is usually your first university degree, such as an Associate or Bachelor's degree. You can undertake postgraduate study after you have completed an undergraduate degree or have equivalent work experience. Postgraduate courses include Graduate Diploma, Master and PhD.

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  • 1 month ago

    Most of the time, they are the same department. We call them "graduate schools" but they are really "graduate programs" in a certain college in a certain university. "The ____ University Graduate School" just means the collection of graduate programs in a university. There are usually separate graduate vs. undergraduate admissions committees, separate grad vs. undergrad advising, other administrative stuff. But they're the same department for one field. For instance, a "department of biology" would include all the faculty, staff, grad students, postdocs, and undergrads in that field. The department is probably in the "college of natural sciences", which is just a division of University X. We call undergraduate education "college" colloquially, which is confusing because the college is not the university, and a college of a university includes all department, faculty, staff, undergrads, grad students, etc. Truly, a college is a division of a university (college of engineering, college of humanities, college of performing arts, etc) OR a community college, which is different from a university. We call graduate education "grad school" colloquially, which is confusing because it's not an actual separate school or college, it's just a graduate program within a department. But "the graduate school" is all of the grad programs at a university... Ugh.


    University: The largest unit of a place for higher education.

    College: A division of a university (college of arts, college of sciences, etc.) which contains departments and all people in the departments...OR a community college.

    School: Another name for a college of a university, but typically associated with professional fields (school of dentistry, school of veterinary medicine e.g. you don't obtain undergrad degrees here) or smaller divisions which don't quit fit in other colleges (school of architecture, even though there are undergrad architecture majors).

    Department: A specific field within a college or school (e.g. department of physics in the college of natural sciences at X university). Contains staff, faculty, grad students, postdocs, undergrad students. 

    Graduate school: The collection of graduate programs within a university. Has its own administration, but is contained within the same university. Each program is contained in the same colleges, schools, departments as undergraduates. 

    Graduate program: A specific course of graduate education in a field, e.g. Masters in Education program.


    College: Undergraduate education. At a university or community college working towards your bachelors (4-yr) or associates (2-yr) degree.

    Graduate school: Graduate education (some countries would say postgrad education). Beyond your bachelors. At a university working towards your masters or doctoral degree.

    This was a little overkill.... oops. But hopefully it was more clarifying than confusing.

    Source(s): Academic terminology drives me insane.
  • drip
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    You need an undergrad degree  or Bachelor degree to apply to any Graduate school. 

    They are separate. But a undergrad chemistry student can be in the same building and have some of the same professors as the chemistry students going for their Masters degree. 

    A post grad student is any student who have already earned their Bachelor degree. 

    A student would need to apply to the Master degree program after earning a Bachelor degree.  It is a different  admissions process.  

    The majority of students will attend a different university for their Grad work from where they did their undergrad work.

    A postdoc is a temporary position that allows a PhD to continue their training as a researcher and gain skills and experience that will prepare them for their academic career. 

    Some student who have earned their Doctorate degree and have completed their dissertation go on to a full time job instead of a post doc.

  • MS
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    There is often an administrative office that supervises and manages graduate programs separately from undergraduate programs.  Admissions are usually handled by separate offices.  But the programs themselves are typically housed in the same department, taught by the same faculty, etc. 

    In my psychology department, we have a bachelor's degree, a general master's degree, a school psychology degree, and a doctoral degree.  Most of our faculty teach courses in all of these programs. 

  • 1 month ago

    that is NOT always the case.  In many universities and colleges, both UG and G courses are taught by same department and even same professors and may have same advisors.  Post graduate usually refers to programs for people who already hold a graduate degree [possibly in a related field] and are likely done with the doctoral students specialized courses [courses that require having completed one's oral exams successfully].  -- grampa  [married 32 years to Uni Professor.]

  • ?
    Lv 7
    1 month ago

    A graduate school has a separate administration and staff from the undergraduate colleges. Whether A department or school A  department or school can be a?seperate administrative unit of more than one college. A college /school has a dean. A department or.or school has a chairperson or head and works with thecdeans of several colleges. The university has a a a president and a higher level of administration. 

    A postgraduate STUDENT. Is a student who already has earned a bachelor's degree but is is still enrolled as an undergraduate student while earning a second or third bachelors or associates degree. Technically there is no postgraduate college with a?separate administration like a dean. 

    There are some variations on this. Stanford has a freshman Dean and staff.that is part of the University administration that works with the other colleges and schools of the University. 

    Colleges can be stand alone colleges or schools and not be part of a university. 

    Students don't attend just one department. They are enrolled in courses offered by many departments?and sometimes more than one college at the same time. Undergraduate students can and do take graduate level courses all the time. The same course can carry undergraduate and graduate credit hours and usually has 2 tightly different course numbers. 

    Yes. it CAN be very confusing.for someone whose family members have never been involved. with higher level tertiary education.  .

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