The entire education system in USA differs slightly from what other countries follow. With this article, get an overview of the education system in USA.

Education System in USA

A land of fulfilling dreams, coupled with cutting edge education quality, mega bucks, and living life king size, is all what the United States is. Studying in US has several advantages. It is home to some of the best and distinguished educational institutions of the world. Particularly for international students, studying in US is the simplest and most reputable way of becoming a part of the American dream, not to forget the array of benefits offered by the institutions there. While most countries follow the self-funding concept, the US education system presents several scholarships, loans, and earn-as-you-learn opportunities. With over 3800 universities and colleges, and hundreds of courses to choose from, international students get to study under the most diverse set of education systems in the world. Right from nuclear science to film and dance, a student can pursue any course of his choice. Nevertheless, the system of education in USA is quite different from other parts of the world. Besides, it is important to know the structure of education system in the US before you start preparing for seeking admission in a prominent US university.
Education System in USA
Primary/Elementary School
Education in America starts at the age of 5 years. The tenure for primary school is about five to six years. The students complete five grades of their education during this stage. Parents generally get their students admitted to public school, private school, or home school.
High/Secondary School
On completion of five grades at the primary school, students enter secondary school. Here, the tenure is of six to seven years, through which they would be completing their 12 grades of schooling. On successful completion of secondary school, students are awarded a high school diploma, which makes them eligible for attending college or university. Students, traveling from international destinations, applying for graduation courses in US should possess equivalent grades.
Undergraduate School
Undergraduate program is the first step for post-secondary education that begins after 12 years of primary and secondary schooling. Colleges and universities offering undergraduate programs offer two types of degrees, namely, associate degree and bachelor’s degree. An associate degree is a two-year program offered primarily by Community, Vocational, and Junior Colleges. On completion of this course, the student is eligible for seeking transfer in the third year of a four-year bachelor’s degree in four-year colleges or universities. Since the tuition and fees are relatively lower for these courses, most American and international students find it convenient to pursue this course first and then, proceed with the remaining two years of study. A bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, is a four-year program, offering several ‘majors’ (or specializations) in all fields. This is the first degree from where most students plan their career or profession. The first year of bachelor’s degree is called Freshman Year, the second - Sophomore Year, the third - Junior Year, and the fourth - Senior Year.
Professional School
Most US universities offer professional program, such as law, medicine, pharmacy, physiotherapy, etc. that lead to achievement of first professional degrees, like MD (for medicine), Pharm D (for pharmacy), Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT - for physiotherapy), etc. On completion of these degrees and fulfilling other requirements, students are permitted to practice as professionals in their respective fields. However, to seek admission in these professional programs, students have to qualify in certain entrance tests, such as MCAT (for medicine), PCAT (for pharmacy), LSAT (for law), etc. after obtaining a bachelor’s degree in related subjects.
Graduate School
Degree programs, like engineering, arts, and sciences are offered by graduate schools and specialized colleges, the completion of which provides masters and doctoral level degrees, known as Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Sciences (M.S.), and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). These courses vary from one to five years, depending upon the course, specialization, level of study, and ability of students presenting their projects. Master’s level programs generally run for two years, while the duration for doctoral level programs is from three to six years, depending upon the field of research and university. However, pre-requisite tests are required to be qualified for admission to the Master courses. TOEFL and GRE tests are necessary for MS and MA programs, while TOEFL and GMAT are essential for MBA and other management related programs.
Credit System
Students studying in the US are evaluated on the number of credits obtained during their academic performance. These credits are calculated on various parameters depending upon the performance in semester-end examinations, classroom preparations, seminar participation, laboratory hours, etc. In some cases, credits are replaced by ‘units’ or ‘semester hours’. Students are required to earn a particular number of credits per semester, for every course of study they undertake. To obtain a bachelor’s degree, students have to complete 112 to 120 credits (24/30 per year) for four years, while for a master’s degree, at least 36 credits (18 per year) are essential for a two-year program.
Grades & GPA
US education system follows a chronic evaluation method for every course adopted by the students and awards them with grades. Based on several inquisitions, such as class attendance, marks scored in examinations, laboratory reports, assignments, and other relevant proceedings, the grades are assessed and a common percentage as a “letter grade” is awarded. The following letter grade scale is followed at US colleges and universities:
100-90% = A
89-80% = B
79-70% = C
69-60% = D
59-50% = E
49-0% = F
Students complete the degree programs with a Grade Point Average (GPA), computed after taking into consideration the number of courses, number of credits (for each course), and the numerical value of a grade. The numerical grade for each course is multiplied by the number of credits secured by the student. Likewise, the total points obtained are divided by the total number of credit hours.

More in Study in USA

  • Study Cost in USA

    Studying in America can be an expensive option, if you do not plan wisely. Explore this article to find the approximate study cost that will be incurred in USA.

  • Top Universities of USA

    USA boasts of being the home of some of the most reputed universities in the world. With this article, explore the top universities of America, if you wish to study abroad.

  • Internship Programs in USA

    Interested in enhancing your skills and knowledge with an internship in the US? Find detailed information about different internship programs in USA, with this article.

  • MBA Programs in USA

    Pursuing MBA from a US B-school is a dream-come-true for most candidates. Explore this article to find all information about the different MBA programs offered in USA.

  • PhD Programs in USA

    Do you wish to see the three prestigious letters PhD after your name? Scroll through this write-up to find all information about pursuing PhD programs in USA.

  • Postgraduate Courses in USA

    Are you wondering how to seek admission in an esteemed university in USA? Explore this article and find all details about the postgraduate courses offered by America.

  • Undergraduate Courses in USA

    Wish to pursue your dream of studying in the United States? This article emphasizes on the various undergraduate courses offered in USA.

  • University Admission in USA

    Fulfill your dream of pursuing higher studies in USA by glancing through the university admission procedure, with this article.

  • Student Visa for USA

    Go through this article to find all information that will help you in obtaining a student visa for study in USA.