The American education system
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