One of the most attractive features of USA higher education system is the flexibility provided through the number and diversity of institution types it encompasses. The choice of classes, programs and locations offered by American education system overwhelms the students.
The first level of higher education after completing twelve years of primary and secondary school is the under graduate study leading to bachelors degree. After completing under graduate degree which normally takes four years, the students can go for graduate program leading to award of masters degree.
Most of these programs are under taken on campus, however, there are growing number of accredited online college degrees that are available to students from all around the world.
There are a mix of private and local government controlled public universities/colleges offering bachelors degree. These degrees are accredited by national and regional independent bodies. The public universities as well as private universities offer similar studies, however, private universities have fewer number of students per class but the cost of studies is expensive when compared with the public universities.
Admissions to bachelor degree may require TOEFL/IELTS, SAT/ACT and/or SAT subject test results.
The first two years of an under graduate studies require you to take general courses including literature, arts, history, social science, music, films etc. This is to impart general knowledge and provide broader foundation to the student by imparting knowledge in the variety of subjects prior to focussing on specific field of study. This specific field of study chosen by a student is called “Major”.
The very unique advantage of American higher education system is that you can change your “major” if you chose to do so anytime during the four years. Also for any degree or major, US education offers variety of subjects to choose from. You can also do a double major, if you are intelligent enough or else by opting for some additional subjects, you can earn a “minor” along with your “major”.
The four year bachelor/s degree, includes Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (B.S),and Bachelor of Business Administrators (BBA). The degree awarding institutes could be either primarily undergraduate institutions (Liberal Arts Colleges) or the undergraduate institution of a University.
Universities are research oriented educational institutions which provide both undergraduate and graduate programs. Some universities also have professional schools, for example, Journalism School, Business School, Medical School and Law School etc. Most of the universities also offers doctorate degrees which is usually done after completion of graduate program.
The Masters degree for a graduate program usually require two years of studies. To get admission for a graduate program you may need to take GRE or the GMAT or the MCAT
US also has Community colleges offering two year courses that award associates degree and certifications. Community college graduates most commonly can transfer to a four year college to complete the last two years and get their four year under graduate degree.
The academic year in the US is usually split into two semesters, with the fall (autumn) semester beginning in August and ending in December, while the spring semester runs from January to May. You can also have a mini summer semester during the summer holidays from May to August.
A four year undergraduate study has eight semesters. The first year is called Freshman Year, followed by Sophomore, Junior & the Senior Year as the second, third and fourth year.
Students of any year of university other than the first year are known as Upperclassman.
Each course is worth a certain number of credits or credit hours. This number is roughly the same as the number of hours in a class for that course, each week.
A course is typically worth two to five credits. In four years you need to earn one hundred twenty credits. Normally a student enrols for fifteen credits per semester which boils down to five subjects/courses in every semester.
The typical class room for any subject in a US college ranges from anything between 10 students to 120 students. The class room atmosphere is very dynamic and you are expected to present your point of view and participate in class discussions and give presentations. Most of the courses will require a regular and active participation of the student in the form of weekly exams, presentations, projects and assignments.
If a student enrols, at a new university while he is still studying, most of the credits owned in first college are normally transferred to the new college within a reasonable time. International students cannot go for transfer in their first year of studies.