Higher Education – How To Get It in the USA?

Higher education in the United States can be got at a college or university. Colleges only offer undergraduate programs, while universities offer undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degrees. The structure of the university may include several colleges. Most colleges in the United States are private, small (about 2,000 students) having a specific focus: for example, humanitarian or technical. Although the colleges are less well known, the quality of education is very high.

US universities are also divided into private and public. The latter are built to educate residents of a particular state. For applicants from other states, studying at a state university is much more expensive. The competition for admission becomes a higher edge.

The structure of higher education in the United States

There are three stages in the American higher education system:

  1. undergraduate (bachelor’s degree);
  2. graduate (master’s degree, MBA);
  3. postgraduate (doctorate).

To enter most US universities, foreign applicants need to undergo a special annual training program known as foundation. The student will not only be helped to quickly improve knowledge of English and academic subjects, but will also be supported in a new unusual environment.

Some universities offer to undergo an adaptation program in parallel with the first study year. This makes it possible not to waste a year. Among these universities, there are:

  • University of Central Florida;
  • The University of Illinois in Chicago;
  • University of the Pacific;
  • American University Washington.

Stages of HE in the USA


Duration of training: 3-4 years.
Cost: from $ 16,000.
Admission: after leaving school and preparatory program.

There is no single curriculum in American higher education. Seminars and lectures are divided into compulsory and optional. All students first study general subjects, and then choose the modules of higher interest. Several hundred students may be present in lectures, and from two to thirty students in laboratory or discussion sessions. Students are expected to actively participate in discussions and defend their point of view. The efforts often affect the final grade.

In some universities, you don’t even need to choose a specialization upon admission – for the first 1 or 2 years, all students study the same subjects. At the same time, there is no strict division into groups and faculties.

Master’s degree

Duration: 1-2 years.
Cost: from $ 20,000.
Admission: after bachelor’s degree.

The master’s degrees in America is much more difficult than studying in an undergraduate program. A large amount of material needs to be studied independently, while making individual projects at the same time.

There are two types of master’s programs: professional and academic. Professional master’s students receive, in addition to the general theoretical base, practical training in the chosen field. For “academic” masters, it is important to participate in scientific research. Those who choose an academic master’s degree usually plan to continue their education in doctoral studies and subsequent research activities.

Postgraduate (Ph.D)

Duration: 4-6 years.
Cost: from $ 30,000.
Admission: after master’s degree (in some cases after after bachelor’s degree).

The third stage of higher education in the United States is intended for those who want to participate in scientific activities. About 28% of GDP is spent annually on the development of this industry (especially in the field of medicine and biology) in America. Many studies are conducted on the basis of universities, so students can freely use all the capabilities of university laboratories and research centers to work on their own dissertation.

After finidhing the doctoral course, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D) is granted.

Grading system in American universities

Each discipline is assessed in credit units – ECTS – depending on the time devoted to its study and the complexity. To obtain a bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D degree, you need to collect a certain number of credits for the entire period of study. For example, at Adelphi University, a basic undergraduate course is 3 credits, and a course with laboratory work is 4 credits.

To get credits for the course, you must earn a satisfactory grade in the discipline. For each credible work during the semester, the student receives a grade – A, B, C, D or F. Then, from all the marks, the GPA is calculated. To do this, letter points are translated into numbers, where A = 4, B = 3, C = 2, D = 1, F = 0.

GPA is important at all stages of study at a university: upon admission, a mark from a school certificate be transferred to a GPA (usually a GPA of at least 2.5 is required for admission). This indicator can also play a role when applying for a job after university.

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