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Learn American education system

Introduction to the US Education System

The US education system has a wide range of study options for international students. The abundance of schools, programs and locations gives students many choices but will sometimes be difficult to decide, even for American students. When starting a school choice, it is important to thoroughly understand the American education system. Understanding the American education system will help students make the right choices and develop their learning plans.

Education system


Before studying higher education, American students have 12 years of primary and secondary education, the program from grade one to grade twelve. At the age of six, American students began elementary school. After five or six years of elementary school, you will continue to go to high school.

High school consists of two programs: one is "middle school" or "middle school" and two is "high school". A diploma will be issued after high school graduation. After graduating from high school (12 years), American students can study at university or college. College or University is also called "higher education".


Like American students, international students will have to submit transcripts during the college or university application process. Transcripts are official documents of students' academic results. In the US, transcripts include "grades" and "GPA" (GPA), which are student achievement results. Courses are usually graded according to percentages and then converted to points.

The GPA and grade point average system in the US may not be easy to understand especially for international students. There are many ways to explain this score. For example, two students studying at two different schools submit transcripts to a university. Both students have an average score of 3.5, but a normal high school student and another high school student is renowned for more academic pressure. Universities can interpret the GPA of these two students differently because the two high schools have completely different criteria.
Therefore, there are a few important things to note:
  • Students should choose a school in the US that is suitable for their educational level at the time of school search.
  • Learn carefully the admission requirements at universities and colleges as well as each degree program because there may be different requirements.
  • Contact the school counselor or instructor regularly to update your enrollment information.
Educational counseling or instructors will help students know whether they need to study for a year or two before being admitted to university. If international students study in the US before being eligible to study at a local university, then governments and employers in some countries will not accept academic results in the US.
Learn American éducation system


Class schedules usually start in August and September and continue in May or June. Most students begin to study in the fall so international students should also start studying at this time. There are many interesting things when starting a new school year, students can make friends at this time when they all start their new life in university lectures. In addition, students can study many courses, starting in August and continuously throughout the year.
In some schools, the school year consists of two semesters, also known as "semesters." (Some schools have a three-term schedule, or "trimester") In addition, there are a number of quarterly schools including four period, including summer term, is not required. Usually, if not for the summer period, a school year will consist of two semester or three quarters.

Higher Education System in the US: Education Level

First level: University
Students studying at college or university and have not earned a bachelor's degree, are studying at university level. Often students take four years to get a bachelor's degree. Students can begin studying for a bachelor's degree through a community college or a four-year university.
For the first two years, students will have to study many different courses, often known as basic courses: literature, science, social science, art, history and many other subjects. This helps students accumulate rich common ground knowledge before focusing on major subjects.
Many students choose to study at a community college to complete the first two years of basic education. Students will receive an Associate of Arts (AA) transfer degree and then transfer to a four-year college or university.
"Main subject" is the field of study that students choose. For example, the major major of students is journalism, students will earn a bachelor's degree in journalism. Students will have to take a few required courses for their studies to meet that industry's requirements. Students must choose major majors when starting their third year at school.
A unique feature of the US higher education system is that students can change their major majors at any time. It is perfectly normal for American students to change their major of study at university. Often students will find an industry they are excellent or interested in. The US education system is very flexible. It is important to note that changing the subject also means learning more subjects, taking more time and more money.
Second level : Postgraduate Master's Degree Currently, university graduates with a bachelor's degree can really want to go to graduate school to improve their qualifications and career development. This degree is necessary for key positions in library science, engineering, health behavior and education.
In addition, international students in some countries are only accepted to study abroad at the graduate level. Students should find out if there is a need for work experience in the country before applying to graduate school in the United States.
Graduate programs are usually run by a department at the university. To be admitted, students need to have a GRE (graduate record examination). Other graduate programs may require other tests such as LSAT when applying to law schools, GRE or GMAT for business schools, and MCAT for medical schools.
Master's degree programs are usually completed within one or two years. For example, the MBA program (Master of Business Administration) is a popular program that is usually completed in two years. Other masters programs like journalism require only one year.
Most master's programs are taught in the classroom and graduate students must write long research papers called "master's essays" or complete a "master's project".
Third level : Postgraduate PhD degree Many schools consider a master's degree as the first step before studying for a PhD (PhD). But at many other schools, students can study straight up a doctorate without a master's degree. To earn a PhD, students must spend three years or more. International students can spend five to six years to complete a doctorate.
In the first two years of the program, most PhD students will go to class and attend workshops. At least one year will be spent studying and writing essays or dissertations. This paper must reflect new, unreleased views, designs or studies.
The doctoral thesis is a discussion and summarizes the current research on a topic. Most schools in the US offer doctoral degrees that require students to read two languages ​​and spend most of the time "at one place" to pass an acceptance exam into a doctorate and rhetoric exam. on doctoral topic.

Characteristics of American Higher Education System


“The challenge is the way students register and study. I really didn't know what to learn because there were so many programs to choose from. I met Angela Khoo [Education Consultant] to consult with me, which class should I study, and then it became much easier for me. "
Quote from Meiyun Han, from China 
Nursing Department at Merrit College (a department of Peralta County Community College System School).
Classes can be large-scale with hundreds of students or small numbers and seminars (class discussions) with only a few students. The classroom environment at the US university is very dynamic. Students will have to share experiences, debate, participate in class discussions and give presentations to the class. International students will find it to be the most exciting experience in the US education system.
Every week, the instructor will ask students to read textbooks and other publications. Instructors will ask students to update information through reading and homework to help students participate in class discussions and understand lectures. Some degree programs also require students to spend time in the laboratory.
The instructor is the one who scores students for classes. Points are calculated based on:
  • Each instructor will have different requirements for student contributions in the classroom, but the teacher encourages students to participate in class discussions, especially in class seminars. This is an important factor for scoring students.
  • During the course of study, there is often a Mid-term Test.
  • In addition, students are required to submit one or more research papers or period reports, or experimental reports to evaluate the final grades.
  • There may be short tests or quick quizzes. Sometimes lecturers will ask for a "quick quiz" without notice. These form tests will not account for a large percentage of the final grades, but only to encourage students to attend classes and do homework.
  • End-of-term tests will take place at the end of the term.


Each subject is equivalent to a certain number of credits or credit hours. The number of credits is equivalent to the number of hours students take classes for that subject each week. One subject has about four to five credits.
The full-time program in most schools has 12 to 15 credit hours (four or five courses per semester) and students must complete a certain number of credits before graduation. International students must attend a full-time course throughout the semester.


If a student enrolls in another school before graduation, the number of credits the student has attended at the first university will count towards the university score to help complete the program. That means students can transfer to another school and still graduate on time.


1. Public Colleges and Universities
State colleges and universities are supported and run by local or state governments. Each of the 50 states in the United States has at least one public university and many state colleges. Many of these public universities have the state's name, or the word "state" in the school name: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.
2. Private College or University
These schools are privately run instead of state government agencies. Tuition fees for private schools will usually be higher than public school fees. Often private schools will be smaller in size than public schools.
Colleges and universities affiliated with religion are private universities. Usually these universities will accept students from all different religions. However, there are a few schools that want to accept students with the same religion as the school.
3. Community
College Two-year community college degree associate (diploma) and certificates. There are many types of associate degrees, but the most important difference is whether or not it can be forwarded. There are usually two main types of diplomas: one is a university transfer degree and the other is a certificate that helps students start working. A transfer degree to a university is usually an associate of arts or associate associate degree. Degree that is not forwarded is an associate degree in applied science and program completion certificate.
Graduates of community colleges mostly transfer to a four-year college or university. Because students can transfer points from community colleges, students can complete a bachelor's degree within the next two years or more. Many schools also offer intensive English or English programs to help students prepare for college.
If students do not plan to go to college, students can find work in their hometown with their associate degree.
4. Institute of Technology
The Institute of Technology is a four-year university specializing in science and technology. Some schools have graduate programs or short-term training courses
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