Is university capitalized? It’s not a simple yes or no, unfortunately. There are instances when one is required to capitalize the word “university” while in others, a lowercase is required. Without further ado, let’s get to the distinctions.
When is university capitalized?
When it is a proper noun since proper nouns are always capitalized
Proper nouns differ from other types of nouns in that, they offer specificity to a person, a place or a thing. If we, for instance, say, “The boy is coming,” it could just be any boy, However, if we state that “Peter is coming,” then we have specified which boy is coming hence the name Peter is capitalized. The same applies to the term “university.”
When used as a proper noun such as “University of Virginia” or “Oxford University,” then the university is capitalized. It has a physical presence and can be seen, visited and addressed. As such, it is a proper noun, which requires capitalization according to the conventions of grammar.
Even when used alone, the term “University should still be capitalized if it still sustains specificity. For example: “I wish to attend the University of Arizona. The University offers specialized programmes whose standards are universally accepted.”
Note that the term ‘University’ has been used twice in the sentence above. In the first instance, it appears within a proper noun. However, in the second, it is used alone. Since we already are aware which university is being talked about, then the word is still capitalized as It pertains to a specific institution.
Another example would be: “UCLA was closed down. Wildfire was the cause of the University’s closure.”
When is University not capitalized?
When it is a common noun
If you are talking about a university in general, then it becomes a common noun and is hence not subject to capitalization. Common nouns are generic names that offer no specificity. If we. say: “Going to university is an ideal dream to many people.” Then “University” becomes generic. Nobody knows which exact university we are talking about. Grammatically, any common noun should be written in a lower-case-format.
When it comes to the term “University,” the key aspects to consider are proper or common. If it appears as a common noun, then do not capitalize. However, if it demonstrates the properties of a proper noun such as identity and specificity, then, by all means, do capitalize.
To learn more about proper title capitalization rules, give our free title capitalization tool a try.