Home Education Study in the United States: A Concise Guide

Study in the United States: A Concise Guide


Going to study in the United States is a dream for many students. thousands go there every year to study and develop their skills. The value, flexibility, and quality of study make America’s education system a unique choice in the world, whether in institutions, intellectual and social environments, college courses, and specialization opportunities.

Presentation of the education system

The American education system is divided into 3 types of higher education: colleges, universities, and institutes. They all issue diplomas of equal importance and value which are recognized by the government. Mainly, the difference between these categories lies in the educational orientation.

As for the Colleges, they are more focused on a quality higher education to acquire a solid general culture and then focused on specific disciplines. In the first two years, they issue initial degrees: an associate’s degree in arts or associates in science, a springboard for many students. The arts refer to programs that focus on intellectual-type subjects that are not always as straightforward as science and math. Those who wish to play a creative role in contributing to the community would be interested in the arts. They are more and more attractive to foreign students because study fees are not expensive compared with the fees of universities.

American universities put more emphasis on research and also offer theoretical courses. Their strength lies in the diversity of the delivered programs. They benefit from a network of partnerships with companies in the scientific and commercial sectors. All these elements contribute to the fame of American universities. It should be noted, however, that there is a division between public and private universities, the latter often relying on religious obedience and their tuition fees are higher, but they are often ranked higher. Finally, the institutes are more oriented towards teaching a major discipline by addressing related fields.

The Degrees

To make the most of your study time in the United States, you should first know the degrees and fields of study in order to choose the university and study program that is best suited for your plans. Note however that, whatever the faculty, many means are considerably offered to students, the American system remains very competitive and flexible to compare with European systems for example.

The undergraduate program

Associate Degree:  Associate programs are transition programs, corresponding to the first two years of the Bachelor cycle or to the specialization programs at the end of studies. It is obtained in 2 years and is taught in “college” (private or “community college”). Examples of Associate degrees: Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS). Students have the opportunity to continue their studies by joining a 4-year university program.  The “community colleges”, public or private, are establishments managed by the municipality and can also take the name of “County colleges”, “junior colleges”, “technical colleges” or “city colleges”.

Bachelor Degree: In the United States, undergraduate programs are extremely flexible, as students have the flexibility to choose their courses from a wide offer. A Bachelor’s is a diploma obtained after 4 years of study at a university or “college”. In general, a Bachelor’s program is made up of two parts. The first part focuses on fundamental courses, “foundation course”, with subjects taught such as mathematics, English, social sciences, physics, and literature. The second part of the Bachelor allows you to choose a specialization or a major. Examples of Bachelor’s degrees: Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS). The diploma is issued after obtaining a certain number of credits (a course generally represents 3 or 4 credits) and on the condition that the criteria for the Bachelor’s level are met.

Graduate studies in the United States

Students who have obtained a Bachelor have the opportunity to continue their university courses by following a Master’s or Doctorate (Ph.D.) cycle. In the United States, graduate programs reinforce the specialization of studies and are of a higher standard. In a graduate program, it is assumed that students have mastered the fundamentals and knowledge of their field of study.

Master’s Degree:  In the Master’s cycle, which can be academic or professional, students deepen their knowledge and training in the field of study of their choice. The Masters are offered in many subjects. A Master’s degree is generally obtained in two years and relates to a specific subject. Examples of academic Masters: Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). Examples of professional masters: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Education (Med), Master of Social Work (MSW). Most graduate programs use in particular the results that students have obtained on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as a selection criterion. Most MBA programs use in particular the results that students have obtained on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) as a selection criterion. Studies in law and medicine are offered only at the “graduate” level, which means that students, before applying for law or medicine, must have obtained a Bachelor’s degree.

Law studies: Law studies offer education focused on the practical skills required by the profession of lawyer. In most states in the United States, a J.D. degree is required to be admitted to the bar. A law degree is obtained after 3 years of university studies. Universities use the results obtained by students on the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) as a selection criterion. If the students successfully complete their university law program, they receive the degree of “Juris Doctor” (J.D.). Study in the United States is the deam of many student in all countries.

Medicine: Studies in medicine last a minimum of 4 years. Universities use their Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) results as a criterion for evaluating students. If students successfully complete their medical studies, they are awarded the degree of “Doctor of Medicine” (MD) or “Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine” (DO).

Ph.D.: The “Doctoral” programs include high-level courses, study seminars, writing a dissertation, training to prepare students for research. This university program lasts a minimum of 3 years. Most graduate programs require students to pass the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). If students successfully complete this program, they receive the degree of “Doctor of Philosophy” (Ph.D.).

The choice of establishments to study in the United States

The choice of an establishment is a decision with serious consequences and it is made even more difficult when you are thousands of kilometers from the country concerned. This being the case, with the necessary preparation and good organization, it is quite possible to identify schools capable of meeting each individual’s needs. It is preferable to leave the necessary time for such reflection and to start your research 12 to 18 months before the date on which you want to start your studies.

When choosing an American university, certain criteria must be taken into account: Programs and specializations offered – confirm that the specialization you are interested in is offered. The size of the institution – large universities often offer a larger offer of courses, while smaller ones allow for much more personal contact. Geographical location, etc… For more details follow this link.

Degree equivalency system

There is no diploma equivalency system formalized by a government agreement between certain countries and the United States. Universities are therefore free to assess the credentials of the home countries against the American degrees. It is important to take into account that the degree obtained in certain countries that you wish to transfer to the United States or vice versa requires translations into the languages ​​of instruction and implies knowledge of the American ECTS / Credits equivalents. We note that in the year 2020 many countries in the world including the US, have changes the process of equivalency degrees for Doctors in order to attract them to work in their hospitals and clinics.

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