In some scientific papers, we see that some professors write "University of Bla" on their papers, while others write "Bla University".
What is the difference between "University of Bla" and "Bla University"? Are there any differences at all?

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    Sometimes they get shortened, but every university has an official name which should probably be used in a scientific paper. You might find this article interesting. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – JLG
    Nov 15, 2013 at 21:55
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    @JLG - nice link. The correct name of the institute will be as defined in its original charter. There will even be a difference between "The University of ..." and "University of ..." Sometimes, however, the colloquial names tend to confuse the issue, as people may commonly refer to the easier "Bigtown Uni" rather than the correct "The University of Bigtown". Scientific papers should always cite the correct name.
    – long
    Nov 15, 2013 at 22:10
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    Washington State University and University of Washington are different schools Nov 16, 2013 at 2:07
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    @enthdegree, even more to the point University of Washington and Washington University are different schools.
    – The Photon
    Nov 16, 2013 at 5:22
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it is a request about preferred style (style choice probably supported by legislation). There is usually no linguistic reason why one form should be preferred. Apr 2, 2018 at 13:30

4 Answers 4


There is no difference. It depends on what the actual name of the university is. Some universities have chosen the name University of X, while others have chosen X University.

It’s similar to how some people are called Sarah, some Sara, and some Sarra. It’s all the same name, but you should write it the way that particular person writes it, not according to some arbitrary ‘rule’—same thing with universities.

  • Famously (or perhaps I should say infamously) 'The University of X' in the UK paid tens of thousands of pounds to a PR company to attempt to improve its image by suggesting a sexier name. The company came up with (if I remember correctly) 'The University of X', 'X University' and 'The X University'. I'd have done that for half the fee. Nov 15, 2013 at 23:20
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    That's almost as good as the PR company who, after months of hard work and intense research (not to mention astronomical fees), finally came up with the perfect slogan for the Scottish tourist board: “Welcome to Scotland”. Nov 15, 2013 at 23:22
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    As a long term resident of Oxford, it always amuses me to see tourists wondering around in US style "Oxford University" sweat shirts. I think they wanted "University of Oxford" shirts, but I imagine those are more expensive and harder to come by.
    – Christi
    Nov 17, 2013 at 14:18
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    @Christi, That one’s a bit of an odd case, though, isn’t it? The university itself is University of Oxford, but one of its own departments (its publisher) is Oxford University Press, rather than University of Oxford Press! Nov 17, 2013 at 14:20

There is no real difference, but it is noteworthy that some US states with public university systems use the two different forms to distinguish those systems. For example, in Washington, Texas and Utah there are multiple university systems distinguished by whether "university" comes first or second:

  • University of Washington, University of Utah, University of Texas
  • Washington State University, Utah State University, Texas State University

Usually one of these has more "prestige" than the other, and sometimes the academic focus is different between them, and often they are funded differently.

Note that there are some private universities named as if they were a state university, however. One such example is the privately-funded University of Pennsylvania (founded by Benjamin Franklin).

  • 1
    True, unlike Oxford, no one would substitute CSULA for UCLA— but it's because no one inserts "state" needlessly, e.g. University of California State, Los Angeles. Incidentally, the public/private distinction cannot be made on name alone. U. of Rochester and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are private while George Mason U. and Hunter College are public, and there are scores of others. And of course, the distinction between public and private itself is blurry; eveb when speaking only of governance and not funding, we find hybrids like Temple, Delaware, and Cornell.
    – choster
    Nov 16, 2013 at 0:17
  • The examples you cite are not only distinguished by the placement of the word "University", but also by the inclusion or not of the word "State".
    – The Photon
    Nov 16, 2013 at 5:25
  • @The Photon: If you want an example without the word 'state', there's the University of Washington in Seattle, and also Washington University in St. Louis (which is unaffiliated with the state of Washington, and now seems to be calling itself "Washington University in St. Louis" to make that clear, but the "in St. Louis" was originally not part of its name). Nov 16, 2013 at 7:45
  • @PeterShor Columbia University has been doing something similar recently, by appending "in New York", or maybe it is "in New York City". I guess there has been confusion with the District of Columbia, or the nation of Columbia. Nov 16, 2013 at 10:13
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    @FeralOink: Drifting off topic, but Cornell University is indeed a public-private hybrid. The university consists of several colleges, some of which are "contract colleges" which are funded directly by the State of New York. Others are "endowed colleges" which are funded by tuition and endowment like any other private institution. More info. Nov 16, 2013 at 16:33

While there may be other differences, the main thing to remember is that "University of Bla" and "Bla University" are different names, in the same way that "McBla" and "MacBla" are different names.

As mentioned in the comments, "University of Bla" and "Bla University" may refer to totally separate institutions, so you should never treat these kinds of names as interchangeable.


in California : CSU (bla state university) is more practical oriented while UC (UC bla) is more theoretical. Privately owned in CA usually called University of bla.

  • Welcome to EL&U. We love sources; please include them in your answers, so that we can all profit from your input. Dec 24, 2013 at 4:15

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