Polytechnic vs. University

Indian person being given graduate diploma

While researching which university is the right fit for you, you may have asked yourself: “what is the difference between a polytechnic and a university?” With the great deal of information coming at you so quickly, we thought we could clear up common misconceptions and questions all students may have.

Let’s start with defining what a polytechnic is. The term polytechnic originates from Greek and means “many arts.” A polytechnic offers a range of courses and degrees from vocational courses and certificates through bachelor’s degrees, and some may even offer post-graduate degrees. Polytechnics typically offer small, “hands-on” based teaching, specifically for practical trades such as carpentry, creative arts, law, hospitality, computer science, and more.  Today, a polytechnic may be more commonly known as an institute of technology, where they specialize in science, engineering, technology and mathematics.

A university, on the other hand, focuses greatly on advanced learning and offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Some universities offer different courses and programs than others, but most tend to focus on research and classical learning. Universities can be the only place to receive a degree for certain professions such as medicine, law and engineering.

Before you choose between a polytechnic or university, it is important to envision yourself and the career you hope to pursue in the future and how practical or academic your path will be. While one is no better than the other, it is important that you identify and attend a university or polytechnic that will bring out the best in you.