Different types of universities

Colleges and universities have designations that describe their financial structure: public, private, nonprofit, and for-profit. Every school will fall into at least one of those categories, depending on how and where they get their funding. The different types of universities have specific laws and regulations they must follow, and also tend to have distinct approaches when it comes to their educational mission and standards.

As the name implies, for-profit universities focus on providing education while also generating a profit. They typically judge their success (at least in part) by their profit margin. For-profit institutions are run by companies, and executives and administrators at these schools often feel pressure from shareholders to provide a good return on their investment.

Why choose a nonprofit university?

A nonprofit university (sometimes also referred to as a not-for-profit university) isn’t owned by a company with investors. Nonprofit universities must reinvest their revenues back into the institution and educational operations. That means they use their money for curriculum, student services, faculty salaries, research and library resources, and other components that support their mission and educational purpose. Nonprofit universities can be either public or private.

Private colleges don’t receive funding from the state. Instead, they rely on revenue from tuition, in addition to the funding they receive through endowments and donations.

Public universities such as Penn State are a type of nonprofit university that receives some funding from the state. As Pennsylvania’s only land-grant university, Penn State was founded in 1855 with a focus on research and public service, a tradition that has continued to this day.

Why choose Penn State World Campus?

One of the oldest and most well-known distance learning programs, Penn State World Campus understands the needs and challenges of busy online learners who are juggling multiple roles and responsibilities.  

As a nonprofit university, Penn State continuously invests in its educational mission, which benefits students in many ways.

We offer a broad range of certificate and degree programs that encompass some of the most in-demand fields in today’s professional landscape. Our top priority is providing students the best educational opportunities — meaning top-ranked programs taught by faculty who are leaders in their industry. Students also have the chance to participate in innovative research, gain experience in leadership roles, participate in volunteer activities, explore other cultures through study abroad programs, and more.

Penn State World Campus offers the best of both worlds: the convenience and flexibility of an established online program, backed by a well-respected nonprofit university that has been an educational leader for more than 160 years.