The American education system offers students the most diverse set of education options in the world. In fact, a student who elects to take advantage of the American education system can pursue anything from nuclear science to film and dance. American education possibilities are almost endless!
The American education system requires that students complete 12 years of primary and secondary education prior to attending university or college. This may be accomplished either at public (or government-operated) schools, or at private schools. In many fields and industries, the American education system offers the most cutting-edge, sought-after programs at the world's best schools. That is why graduating from an accredited American school and being exposed to the rigors of the American education system is an investment in your future.
Primary school American children start school at the age of five years. The first year at school is called kindergarten. It is required of all American children enrolled in the American education system. The second year at school is considered the first year of primary school and is referred to as first grade. In America, the word grade has two meanings: (1) the score achieved on an exam or in a course, and (2) a year of education in primary or secondary school. Primary school most commonly consists of five years of education, referred to as grades one to grade 5.
Secondary school Upon completion of fifth grade (the last year of primary school), American children enrolled in the American education system advance to secondary school. Secondary school consists of seven years, referred to as sixth through twelfth grades. The ninth to twelfth grades are referred to as high school. Upon completion of the twelfth grade, students are awarded a certificate called the high school diploma. In the American education system, students must have obtained a high school diploma before they are admitted into college or university. Foreign students who would like to attend an American college or university must have completed coursework that is equivalent to what is taught at an American high school. Foreign students who would like to attend an American high school, need to consider how the high school they select will give them access to the best colleges.
Undergraduate school Students who have completed high school and would like to attend college or university must attend what is referred to as an undergraduate school. These are schools that offer either a two-year degree (called an associate degree) or a four-year degree (called a bachelors degree) in a specific course of study. That course of study is called the major. While most schools that offer a four-year degree will admit students who have not yet chosen a major, all students are required to select (or declare) a major by their second year at school. Students who complete an associate degree can continue their education at a four-year school and eventually complete a bachelor degree. However, students are not locked into a major upon admission—usually, a major is chosen by the second year of college, and changing majors is frequently possible depending on how the credits work out, unlike British tertiary education. This culminates in the awarding of the BA (Bachelor of Arts) or BS (Bachelor of Science).
Graduate school Students who have obtained a bachelor’s degree can continue their education by pursuing one of two types of degrees. The first is a master’s degree. This is usually a two-year degree that is highly specialized in a specific field. Students are sometimes admitted to a master’s degree program only if they have a bachelor’s degree in a closely related field. However, there are many exceptions to this, such as with students who want to pursue a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) degree. Students who want to advance their education even further in a specific field can pursue a doctorate degree, also called a PhD. A PhD degree can take between three and six years to complete, depending on the course of study chosen, the ability of the student, and the thesis that the student has selected. The thesis is a very intensive research paper that must be completed prior to earning the degree. It is always required of students pursuing a PhD, and may sometimes be required of students pursuing a master’s degree (depending on the school).
Certain courses of study are only available at the graduate school level in America. The most notable of these are law, dentistry, and medicine. Students who want to pursue a degree in one of these fields must first obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Admission at US colleges and US universities can be very competitive for international students. US vocational, ESL and high school admissions are generally less competitive, but there are exceptions. Much depends on the school in question and the qualifications of the international student. In order to be accepted at a TOP US school, you must have attained good grades, completed challenging coursework, obtained sufficient financing, and developed a strong command of the English language. .
Less competitive schools have less stringent admissions for international students. Each US school sets its own international student admissions requirements. Different US schools will have different minimum requirements for grades as well as for standardized tests (such as the TOEFL and the SAT). Even within the same school, there may be different requirements pertaining to admissions for international students, depending on the major (or course of study) selected. For example, international students who want to major in engineering at a top USA university will be required to have completed more courses in math and science than students who want to major in business. Typically, the higher your grades and test scores, the better your chances of being accepted by at least one top school. Many different variations exist across the country.