Explanation of the American educational system

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Explanation of the American educational system

The American educational system offers a rich set of options for foreign students. There are such a variety of institutions, programs, and places to choose from that the choice can be overwhelming for students, even those from the United States. As you begin your search for institutions, you must familiarize yourself with the American educational system. Understanding the system will help you narrow down your options and develop your educational plan.

The American educational structure or system


Before higher education, American students attend elementary and high school for a combined total of 12 years. These years known as the period from first grade to twelfth grade.

At about the age of six, American children begin elementary school. Which is commonly referred to as “elementary school”. They attend this school for five or six years and then go on to high school.

Secondary schools are made up of two programs. The first is called “middle school” or “junior high school” (middle school) and the second program is “high school” (secondary school). A certificate or diploma is granted upon graduation from high school. Upon graduation from high school (twelfth grade), American students can go on to college or university. Studies at a college or university are known as “higher education.”



Like American students, you will need to submit your transcripts as part of your application for admission to a university or college. Transcripts are official copies of your academic work. In the United States, this includes your grades and your grade point average, or GPA. Which are measures of your academic achievement. Courses are typically graded using percentages, which are then converted to letter grades.

The grading system and GPA in the United States can be confusing, especially for foreign students. The interpretation of ratings has a lot of variation. For example, two students who have attended different schools submit their transcripts to the same university. They both have 3.5 GPAs, but one of them attended an average high school, while the other attended a prestigious school, with rigorous academic programs. The college may interpret your GPAs differently since the two schools have radically different standards.

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  • You will need to find out the US equivalent of the last level of education you completed in your home country.
  • Pay particular attention to the admission requirements of each university and college, as well as individual degree programs, which may have different requirements than the university.
  • Meet regularly with an educational advisor or guidance counselor to make sure you are meeting the requirements.

Your education advisor or advisory advisor can advise you on whether or not you should spend an additional year or two preparing for admission to an American university. If a foreign student entered a US university or college before meeting the requirements to attend university in their own country, governments and employers in some countries may not recognize the student’s US education.


The general academic calendar begins in August or September and continues through May or June. Most new students start in the fall; that’s why it’s a good idea for international students to start their university studies in the United States at this time as well. There is a lot of excitement at the beginning of the academic year and students form many great friendships during this time as they adjust to a new stage in their academic life. Additionally, many courses are designed for students to take sequentially, beginning in the fall and continuing throughout the year.

The academic year in many schools is made up of two periods called “semesters.” (Some schools use a three-period calendar known as a “trimester” system.) Still, others further divide the year into the four-period trimester system, which includes an optional summer period. If we do not include the summer term, the academic year consists of two semesters or three-trimester terms.


First level: “undergraduate” (bachelor’s degree)

A student who attends a college or university and has not yet earned a bachelor’s degree is studying at the undergraduate level, or undergraduate degree. In general, obtaining a bachelor’s degree takes approximately four years. You can start 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 need to take a wide variety of classes in different subjects, which are commonly known as prerequisites: literature, science, social studies, art, history, etc. This is for you to acquire general knowledge and fundamentals of a variety of subjects before concentrating on a specific field of study.

Many students choose to study at a community college to complete the first two years of prerequisites. They earn a transfer degree called “Associate of Arts,” or AA (Intermediate Degree in Art), and then transfer to a four-year college or university.

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The principal orientation, or “major” in English, is the specific field of study in which your degree focuses. For example, if a person’s primary orientation is journalism, they will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. You will need to take a certain number of courses in this field to meet the requirements for your major’s degree. You will need to choose your main orientation at the beginning of your third year of study.

A very distinctive feature of the American higher education system is the ability to change your major orientation multiple times if you choose. It is extremely common for American students to change major orientation at some point during their undergraduate studies. Students generally discover a different field that they enjoy the most or in which they excel. The American education system is very flexible. Remember, however, that a major orientation change can lead to more courses, which means more time and money.

Second level: graduate seeking a master’s degree

Today, a college or university graduate who has earned a bachelor’s degree is likely to want to seriously consider pursuing postgraduate studies to enter certain professions or advance their career. This degree is generally required for higher-level positions in library science, engineering, behavioral health, and education.

Furthermore, international students from some countries are only allowed to study abroad at the graduate level. You should inquire about the credentials required to obtain employment in your country before applying to a graduate university in the United States.

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A graduate program is generally a division of a university or college. To obtain admission, you must take the GRE test (graduate record examination, or postgraduate registration test). There are certain master’s programs that require specific exams, such as the LSAT exam for law school, the GRE or GMAT exam for business school, and the MCAT exam for medical school.

Graduate programs that award a master’s degree generally take one to two years to complete.

For example, the MBA (master of business administration) is a remarkably attractive degree program that takes about two years. There are other master’s programs, such as journalism, that take just one year.

Most of a master’s program is devoted to studying in the classroom, and the graduate student will have to prepare an extensive research document called “master’s thesis” or complete a “master’s project”. master’s degree). We invite you to read 10 steps to get into one of the best universities in the United States for further info.

Third level: graduate seeking a doctoral degree

Many graduate schools view earning a master’s degree as the first step toward earning a Ph.D. (doctorate). However, in other schools, students can prepare directly for a doctorate without also obtaining a master’s degree. Earning a Ph.D. degree can exercise for three years or more. For international students, it can take up to five or six years.

During the first two years of the program, most doctoral candidates enroll in classes and seminars. At least one more year is dedicated to conducting direct research and writing a thesis or dissertation. This document should contain opinions, designs, or research that have not been previously published.

A doctoral dissertation is a discussion and summary of current academic knowledge on a certain topic. Most US universities that award doctorates also require that their candidates can read two foreign languages, spend a mandatory period “in residence,” pass a qualifying exam that officially admits candidates to the Ph.D. program. Ph.D., and pass an oral exam on the same topic as the dissertation.

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Classroom environment

The classroom atmosphere in American universities is very dynamic. You are expected to share your opinions, defend your arguments, participate in class conversations, and give presentations. For foreign students, this is one of the most extraordinary characters of the American educational system.

Each week teachers generally assign textbooks and other reading materials. You are expected to stay up-to-date with the required reading materials and assignments so that you can participate in class conversations and understand the lectures. Certain degree programs also require students to spend time on assignments in the lab.

Teachers award grades for each student enrolled in the course. Ratings are generally determined as follows:

  • Each teacher will have a unique set of class participation requirements, but students are expected to participate in class conversations, especially seminar classes. This is generally a very important factor in determining a student’s grade.
  • A midterm exam is usually taken during class hours.
  • One or more research or period monographs or laboratory reports must be submitted for evaluation.
  • Possible short quizzes or tests are done. Teachers sometimes conduct an unannounced “pop quiz.” This does not count for much in determining the grade but is intended to inspire students to keep up with their assignments and attend class.
  • A final exam held after the last class meeting.


Each course has a value of a certain number of “credits” (credits) or “credit hours” (credit hours). This number is approximately equal to the number of hours per week that the student attends class for that course. In general, a course is worth three to five credits.

In most schools, a full-time program comprises 12-15 credit hours (four or five courses per academic period) and the student must achieve a certain number of credits to graduate. Foreign students expected to enroll in a full-time program during each period.

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If a student changes universities before completing a degree, he or she can generally use most of the credits accumulated at the previous school to complete a degree at the new university. This means that the student can transfer to another university and still graduate within a reasonable period.

Types of higher education in the United States


A state school funded and run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 US states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges. Many of these public colleges have the name of the state, or specifically the word “State” in their names: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.


These schools run privately, without the involvement of a government entity. Tuition in general is more expensive than in state institutions. American private universities and colleges are often smaller than public institutions.

Universities and colleges with religious affiliations are private institutions. Almost all of these institutions accept students of all faiths and beliefs. However, there is a percentage of institutions that prefer to admit those students who have religious beliefs similar to the beliefs on which the institution was founded.


Community colleges are two-year institutions that award intermediate (transferable) degrees and also certifications. There are many types of intermediate degrees, but the most important differentiating factor is whether or not the degree is transferable. There are generally two major pathways to the degree: one for academic transfer and the other to prepare students for direct entry into the workforce. College transfer degrees are generally “associate of arts” or “associate of science”. The degrees that are not normally transferable are those of “associate of applied science” (intermediate degree in applied science) and “certificates of completion” (certificates of completion).

Graduates of a community college generally transfer to four-year colleges or universities to finalize their degrees. Because they can transfer the credits they accumulated while attending the community college, they can complete their bachelor’s degree program in an additional two or more years. Many also offer English as a Second Language (ESL) or Intensive English program, which prepares students for college-level courses.

If you are not planning to obtain a degree higher than the intermediate degree. You will need to find out if an intermediate degree can qualify you for a job in your home country.


An institute of technology is an institution that offers at least four years of study in science and technology. Some have graduate plans, while others offer short-term programs.

Muhammad Usman Babar

A businessman by profession. blogger by luck. I love to write about Health, Fitness, and Education.

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