Difference Between Department and Division

Department vs Division

To make functions more organized and orderly, sections are made in a large organization or a business that are often referred to as departments or divisions. While, in some places, the word department is common, in others it is division that is mostly used. This confuses many as they cannot make up their mind as to what the real differences between a department and a division are. Let us find out in this article.


While there are countries where the word ministry is used, we have department of justice and the department of State to indicate different ministries inside the government. This is a long standing practice that has been going on since independence. Even in UK there are ministerial departments such as the department of education and the department of transport.

In general though, a department refers to a subdivision or a section inside a large organization dealing with a particular function and having a specific responsibility. This is why we have the departments of sales, marketing, finance, communications, and so on. In some countries though, a geographical unit is referred to as a department as in France and Columbia.


We are aware of the concept of division in math where a number has to be divided in parts. We also know of the practice of small units in military and navy being labeled as divisions. Making small units inside a large organization with independent decision making and support from higher authorities provides for improved efficiency and productivity. This is why we find divisions inside a company to deal with specific responsibilities and functions. Division as a word connotes boundary or a partition. Thus, when we hear of divisions in an organization we immediately conceive of sections or parts that have been made to organize functioning.

What is the difference between Department and Division?

Both departments, as well as division, are concepts that deal with parts of sections, and it is a matter of the convention that either of the two words is used in a particular country or place. Thus, we have countries like France and Columbia where geographical units are referred to as departments whereas we also have countries like US and UK where ministries are referred to as departments such as Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and so on. Division is a word used more in military and navy, to refer to smaller units with specialized operations and responsibilities. However, it has today become a common word used in companies, to refer to sections that are called divisions. In general, a department is bigger than a division as a department may have divisions.