The American education system requires that students complete 12 years of primary and secondary education prior to attending university or college. Although admission policies vary from one university to the next, most determine admission based on several criteria, including a student's high school course of study, high school Grade Point Average (GPA), participation in extracurricular activities, SAT or ACT exam scores, a written essay, and possibly a personal interview. University students pursuing a Bachelor's degree are called "undergraduates," whereas students pursuing a Master's or Doctoral degree are called "graduate students." American undergraduate students will say they are "going to school" or "going to college," which means they are attending university. A common question one student asks another is, "What is your major?" This means, "What is your major field of study?" Most universities give undergraduate students a liberal education, which means students are required to take courses across several disciplines before they specialize in a major field of study. Graduate and professional (such as medicine or law) programs are specialized. At the university level, most courses are only one semester long. Each course is assigned a number of credit hours. Credit hours are usually based on how much time is spent in class each week. Most courses are 3 credits. However, some courses may be 1, 2, 4 or 5 credits. All degree programs require students to complete a minimum number of credit hours before graduation. Most Bachelor's degree programs in the United States do not require students to write a final thesis. Selection for admission to a graduate program is based on several criteria. These include completion of a Bachelor's degree, the student's undergraduate coursework, and their GPA. Students are also expected to write an essay as part of their application or submit a writing sample. Most Master's programs require students to have a minimum score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), which tests verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and analytical writing skills. Students continue to take courses at the graduate level. A final thesis is required for most Master's programs. Doctoral students take courses until they have earned enough credit hours to attempt their qualifying examinations, which are usually taken over several days and often include both a written and oral component. After doctoral students pass their qualifying exams, they are advanced to candidacy and can begin writing their dissertation. Before the degree is given, the completed dissertation must be orally defended before the candidate's faculty committee. Because degree requirements can be very complex and vary from one university and department to another, all students should check with their university and department advisors to make sure they are meeting their educational requirements. U.S. Higher Education System
American Institutions of Higher Education | Accreditation | The Credit System | The Grading System
AMERICAN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION
While characterized by great diversity, American institutions of higher education are classified in general as follows:
A. UNDERGRADUATE STUDY
Community and Junior Colleges: provide a two-year course beyond high school or secondary school. Courses are either “Terminal”, leading to employment, or “Academic”, preparing the student for transfer to a four-year college or university where he/she will complete his/her education. Graduates of junior colleges are usually awarded an Associate in Arts (A.A.) or Associate in Sciences (A.S.) degree.
A Technical Institute: offers a two- or three-year course of training for a semi-professional occupation, such as that of a dental, engineering or medical technician.
Terminal Occupational Education: offers one to three years of study beyond secondary level intended to prepare the student for immediate...
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