Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Education & Culture

Studying in the U.S.

Higher education in the United States is quite multi-faceted and decentralized. It is characterized by competition and autonomous institutions of higher learning. Presently, there are around 4,180 colleges and universities in the US. Of these, over 1,700 are so-called "two-years institutions," and 2,450 are "four-year instutitions". In addition to the roughly 1,700 public institutions (which are operated by the states, cities, or counties in which they are located), there are also more than 2,480 private colleges and universities. "Community colleges" make up the bulk of the American two-year institutions and are quite practical for beginning students wishing to take introductory or general language courses. There are currently over 14 million students registered at US institutions of higher learning, and the vast majority of these students - some 11 million - study at public universities and colleges. Women make up the majority (over 56%0 of American university students. Also of interest is the high percentage (nearly 40%) of part-time students, who attend university while employed full-time.

Undergraduate and Graduate Studies

Besides academic courses of study, institutions of higher learning in the U.S. also offer praxis-oriented programs for advanced vocational training. Such programs are found mostly at two-year "community colleges." In addition to certificates adn diplomas, a student can earn an "associate degree" after two years of study.

The typical academic degree earned by American students is the "Bachelor of Arts" (BA) or respectively the "Bachelor of Science" (BS). These degrees are awarded following the completion of four years of studies. In the first two years of their studies, American students take a number of required courses in general subject areas. After the second year, American students take a major (or two), and spend the remaining two years taking courses in these academic disiplines (although they are not limited to them). After having earned the "bachelors," most Americans end their "academic careers" and look for jobs. One calls the four-year course of study for thet BA/BS the "undergraduate studies." Those who decide to pursue their education further can earn a Master of Arts or Master of Science, repectively, in one or two years. These so-called "Master's Degrees" are offered only at universities, and not at colleges. Likewise, only universities offer professional degrees, as for example the Juris Doctor (for law), the Doctor of Medicine (for medicine), and the well-known Master of Business Administration, or MBA. It usually takes two to four years to complete these professional degrees.

Earning a doctorate (Doctor of Philosophy, or Ph.D.) in the United States takes between four and six years. The first phase of one's doctoral studies usually lasts two years and is conducted with an extensive examination in all the subject areas studies until that point. This examination is knows as the "preliminary examination" or alternatively as the "qualifying examination." Following the successful completion of this examination, the student may begin his reseach for his doctoral dissertation.

Continuative studies which lead to the M.A./M.S., professional degrees, or the Ph.D., are known as "graduate studies."

Application Process

  1. How do I write an effective application essay?
  2. Is my resume useful for admissions?
  3. What should I do if I can't visit a campus?
  4. What are the admissions requirements for PhD in law?
  5. What is the transfer process?
  6. Should I sent photo copies of certificates and awards?
  7. How many credit hours can I transfer?
  8. How do I learn about scholarships that are available to international students?
  9. How do I know my application was submitted successfully?
  10. What is the difference between fall and spring admissions?
  11. Does the application process differ between community college and four year universities?
  12. What is the difference between applying for a graduate program and an undergraduate program?
  13. Do I get credit for my work experience?
  14. Do I need to be a university student to apply for an English language program?
  15. How do I apply for health insurance in the United States?
  16. Does a university's ranking matter for getting a visa?
  17. Can my application fee be waved?
  18. The grading system in my country is different from the United States.
  19. What are the most common application mistakes?
  20. What should I include in my application letter for a graduate program?
  21. What in my application makes me competitive for scholarships?
  22. What is FAFSA?
  23. How many letters of recommendation letters do I need? Whom should I ask to write one?
  24. How do my extracurricular actives factor into my admission?
  25. How important is it for students to reach out to professors before applying?
  26. What questions should I expect in an admissions interview?
  27. What are scholarships and fellowships?
  28. How much does grade point average (GPA) matter?
  29. How important are standardized tests? What about the TOEFL?
  30. Is a masters degree required for PhD program?
  31. Is financial aid available to international students? How can I apply for financial assistance?
  32. Can I transfer my credits to a U.S. university? How do I do that?
  33. Can documents be edited or added to after they are submitted?
  34. What is an application fee?
  35. When are the application deadlines? Should I apply early?
  36. What is a liberal arts college?
  37. How to make an effective application for a pre-med program.


Finance Your Studies

  1. What are all the Components of Financing an Education?
  2. There are Over 4,000 College and Universities in the U.S. What are the Cost Differences?
  3. What is the Difference Between In-State and Out-of-State Tuition?
  4. Check Out These Great Budget Tips for International Students.
  5. Is There More Financial Aid for Certain Fields Like Medicine, Engineering, or Science?
  6. What is a Certificate Program? Do They Offer Financial Support?
  7. Can an International Student get a Job While in the U.S.?
  8. Can a Student Get More Financial Assistance from a State or Private School?
  9. Does the U.S. Embassy Offer Scholarships?
  10. I want to get a Ph.D. How Should I Plan?
  11. What is the Timeline to Apply for Financial Aid?
  12. Is it Possible to get a Full Scholarship as an Undergraduate Student?
  13. Is There Financial Aid for Non-Degree Programs?


College Classroom Culture in the U.S.

  1. Deadlines are not Flexible in the U.S.
  2. How do you React if you are Uncomfortable in the Classroom?
  3. What is the Average Number of Students are in a Classroom?
  4. Give 200% and Study, Study, Study
  5. What is the Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate Studies?
  6. Do U.S. Students like Having International Students in Class?
  7. Difference Between a College and a University?
  8. Be on Time to Class. American's Appreciate it.
  9. What is the Difference Between a High School Class and a College Class?
  10. Do You Get to Choose Your Own Courses?
  11. How are Discussion's Carried out in U.S. Classrooms vs Other Countries?
  12. Differences between a Professor, Associate Professor, or Teaching Assistant
  13. What if You're the Only Student from Your Country? Is it Easy to Make Friends?
  14. Deadlines are not Flexible in the U.S.
  15. Can I Copy Something from a Book? Nahuh, Not Going to be Happening.