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The USA Education System

General particulars

It may say that there has not had any country with flexible education system like that in The USA Education System . School and study program diverse bring students with several options but sometimes it’s difficult to make decision, even American students. For this reason, before making decision on choosing school, it’s the first and important thing that you should learn about the U.S. education system. It will help you to get correct choose and develop your study path.

Educational structure


Just like world education system, American students attend primary and secondary school for a combined total of 12 years. When they are six years old, U.S. students begin primary school. After they attend five or six years primary school and then go onto secondary school.

Secondary school consists of two programs: the first is “middle school” or “junior high school” and “high school”. After graduating from high school (12th grade), a diploma or certificate is awarded and U.S. students may go on to college or university. College or university study is known as “higher education”.


Just like American students, you will have to submit your academic transcripts as part of your application for admission to university or college. Academic transcripts are official copies of your academic work. In the U.S. this includes your “grades” and “grade point average” (GPA), which are measurements of your academic achievement. Courses are commonly graded using percentages, which are converted into letter grades.

The grading system and GPA in the U.S. can be confusing, especially for international students. The interpretation of grades has a lot of variation. For example, two students who attended different schools both submit their transcripts to the same university. They both have 3.5 GPAs, but one student attended an average high school, while the other attended a prestigious school that was academically challenging. The university might interpret their GPAs differently because the two schools have dramatically different standards.

Therefore, there are some crucial things to keep in mind:

Your educational advisor or guidance counselor will be able to advise you on whether or not you must spend an extra year or two preparing for U.S. university admission. If an international student entered a U.S. university or college prior to being eligible to attend university in their own country, some countries’ governments and employers may not recognize the students’ U.S. study result.

Academic year

The school calendar usually begins in August or September and continues through May or June. The majority of new students begin in autumn, so it is a good idea for international students to also begin their U.S. university studies at this time. There is a lot of excitement at the beginning of the school year and students form many great friendships during this time, as they are all adjusting to a new phase of academic life. Additionally, many courses are designed for students to take them in sequence, starting in autumn and continuing through the year.

The academic year at many schools is composed of two terms called “semesters.” (Some schools use a three-term calendar known as the “trimester” system.) Still, others further divide the year into the quarter system of four terms, including an optional summer session. Basically, if you exclude the summer session, the academic year is either comprised of two semesters or three quarter terms

The U.S. Higher Education System: Levels of Study


A student who is attending a college or university and has not earned a bachelor’s degree, is studying at the undergraduate level. It typically takes about four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. You can either begin your studies in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a community college or a four-year university or college

During your first two years of study you will generally be required to take a wide variety of classes in different subjects, commonly known as prerequisite courses: literature, science, social sciences, arts, history, and so forth. This helps you to achieve a general knowledge prior to focusing on a specific field of study.

Many students choose to study at a community college in order to complete the first two years of prerequisite courses. They will earn an Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree and then transfer to a four-year university or college.

A “major” is the specific field of study in which your degree is focused. For example, if someone’s major is journalism, they will earn a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. You will be required to take a certain number of courses in this field in order to meet the degree requirements of your major. You must choose your major at the beginning of your third year of school.

A very unique characteristic of the American higher education system is that you can change your major at any time. It is extremely common for American students to switch majors at some point in their undergraduate studies. Often, students discover a certain field that they excel in or enjoy. The American education system is very flexible. Keep in mind though that switching majors may result in more courses, which means more time and money.

– Postgraduate: After graduating from university, you can earn MA degree. Presently, a college or university graduate with a bachelor’s degree may want to seriously think about graduate study in order to improve knowledge and develop their career. This degree is usually mandatory for higher-level positions in library science, engineering, behavioral health and education.

Furthermore, international students from some countries are only permitted to study abroad at a graduate level. You should inquire about the credentials needed to get a job in your country before you apply to a postgraduate university in the USA.

A graduate program is usually managed by a division of a university or college. To gain admission, you will need to take the GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Certain master’s programs may require different tests, such as the LSAT for law school, the GRE or GMAT for business school, and the MCAT for medical school.

Graduate programs in pursuit of a master’s degree typically take one to two years to complete. For example, the MBA (Master of Business Administration) is an extremely popular degree program that takes about two years. Other master’s programs, such as journalism, only take one year.

The majority of a master’s program is spent in classroom and a graduate student must prepare a long research paper called a “master’s thesis” or complete a “master’s project.”

– Master and PhD: Many graduate schools consider the attainment of a master’s degree the first step towards earning a PhD (Doctorate). But at other schools, students may prepare directly for a doctorate without a master’s degree. It may take three years or more to earn a PhD degree. For international students, it may take as long as five or six years for earning a PhD degree.

During the first two years of the program, most doctoral students will enroll in classes and seminars. It takes you at least a year to conduct firsthand research and writing a thesis or dissertation. This paper must contain views, designs, or research that have not been previously published

A doctoral dissertation is a discussion and summary of the current researches on a given topic. Most U.S. universities awarding doctorates also require their students to have a reading knowledge of two foreign languages and to spend a required length of time “in residence,” to pass a qualifying examination that officially admits students to the PhD program, and to pass an oral examination on the same topic as the dissertation.

Particulars of Higher Education System in the United States


“One challenge was the way you register for classes and developing an academic plan. I really didn’t know what to study because I could choose many programs. I met with Angela Khoo [Academic Adviser] about the classes that I could take, and then it became a lot easier for me.”

Classes range from large lectures with several hundred students to smaller classes and seminars (discussion classes) with only a few students. The American university classroom atmosphere is very dynamic. You will be expected to share your opinion, argue your point, participate in class discussions and give presentations. International students find this one of the most surprising aspects of the American education system

Each week professors usually assign textbook and other readings. You will be expected to keep up-to-date with the required readings and homework so you can participate in class discussions and understand the lectures. Certain degree programs also require students to spend time in the laboratory

Professors issue grades for each student enrolled in the course. Grades are usually based upon:


Each course is worth a certain number of credits or credit hours. This number is roughly the same as the number of hours a student spends in class for that course each week. A course is typically worth three to five credits.

A full-time program at most schools is 12 or 15 credit hours (four or five courses per term) and a certain number of credits must be fulfilled before graduation. International students are expected to enroll in a full-time program during each term.


If a student enrolls at a new university before finishing a degree, generally most credits earned at the first school can be used to complete a degree at the new university. It means the students can transfer to another university and still graduate within a reasonable time.


  1. State College and University

A state College or University is supported and run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 U.S. states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges. Many of these public universities schools have the name of the state, or the actual word “State” in their names: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.

  1. Private College and University

These schools are privately run as opposed to being run by a branch of the government. Tuition will usually be higher than state schools. Often, private schools are smaller in size than state schools.

Religiously affiliated universities and colleges are private schools. Nearly all these schools welcome students of all religions and beliefs. Yet, only some schools that prefer to admit students who hold similar religious beliefs as those in which the school was founded

  1. Community Colleges

Community colleges are two-year colleges that award an associate’s degrees (transferable), as well as certificates. There are many types of associate degrees, but the most important distinguishing factor is whether or not the degree is transferable. Usually, there will be two primary degree tracks: one for academic transfer and the other prepares students to enter the workforce straightaway. University transfer degrees are generally associate of arts or associate of science. Transferrable degrees are the associate of applied science ones and certificates of completion.

Community college graduates most commonly transfer to four-year colleges or universities to complete their degrees. Because they can transfer the credits they earned while attending community college, they can complete their bachelor’s degree program in two years or more. Many schools also offer ESL or intensive English language programs, which will prepare students for university-level courses.

If you do not plan to earn a higher degree, you can find out a job in your home country with an associate’s degree.

  1. Institute of Technology

An institute of technology is a school that provides at least four years of study in science and technology. Some have master programs or short-term courses.