American Higher Educational System for New Immigrants
Understanding American Higher Educational System
About American Higher Educational System
To begin with, this article is about understanding the American higher educational system for new immigrants to the United States.
Previously, our last article on education was about “Understanding US Educational System” for Primary and Secondary Levels. In addition, this previous article is about understanding the US educational system for new immigrants to the United States. With this in mind, see this previous article if you have young children in or about to go to primary or secondary school.
To return to the subject, we go into detail on the American higher educational system including:
- Degree Programs
- Higher Educational Institutions
Regarding this, many new immigrants want to learn about the American higher educational system for:
- Children’s future
- Their own higher educational aspirations
American Higher Educational System Degree Programs
A degree program in the American higher educational system is a course of study leading to an academic qualification award. In other words, the academic degree award qualification goes to the student upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education.
Specifically, there are different degrees at various program levels in the American higher educational system.
For example, the program levels include:
- Undergraduate Program
- Master’s Program
- Doctorate Program
There are two types of undergraduate degrees including an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree.
A student who is attending a college or university and has not earned a bachelor’s degree, is studying at the undergraduate program level.
An associate’s degree is a two-year undergraduate academic degree from colleges and universities. Therefore, it is the next higher level of education than a high school diploma or GED.
In particular, associate’s degrees are usually from community colleges, technical colleges or technical programs.
Many students choose to study at a community college in order to complete the first two years of prerequisite courses. As a result, they earn an associate degree. Then, they transfer to a four-year university or college to finish their bachelor’s degree.
The most common undergraduate program degree is the bachelor’s degree.
It specifically four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. You can either begin your studies in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree at a community college, four-year university or college, or even on-line.
The requirements of the two years of study generally include taking a wide variety of classes in different subjects. These classes are specifically known as prerequisite courses. For example, these courses include literature, science, the social sciences, the arts, history, and so forth. Moreover, this is so you achieve a general knowledge, a foundation, of a variety of subjects prior to focusing on a specific field of study.
A “major” is the specific field of study focusing on your degree. For example, if someone’s major is education, they earn a Bachelor of Arts in education. Similarly, if someone’s major is chemistry, they earn a Bachelor of Science in chemistry.
There are requirements to specifically to take a certain number of courses your field of study. For this purpose, this is a requirement in order to meet the degree requirements of your major.
Most student choose their major at the beginning of the third year of school.
On the other hand, a very unique characteristic of the American higher educational system is changing majors. In fact, you can change your major multiple times if you choose. Therefore, it is extremely common for American students to switch majors at some point in their undergraduate studies. Often, students discover a different field that they excel in or enjoy. The American educational system is very flexible. However, keep in mind that switching majors may result in more courses. Hence, this means more time and money.
For the purpose of advancing beyond a bachelor’s degree, students then proceed to a graduate program to obtain a master’s degree. With is in mind, certain professions require a master’s degree. For example, a master’s degree is a requirement for a lawyer. In addition, a master’s degree helps people lawyer advance their career. For example, use a master’s degree to further your career in education, health care, engineering, business and more.
In particular, a graduate program is usually a separate division of a university or college. Moreover, a test is typically a requirement to gain admission. Namely, the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is the normal exam for a mater’s program. Also, certain graduate programs require specific tests, such as the LSAT for law school, the GRE or GMAT for business school, and the MCAT for medical school.
Graduate programs in pursuit of a master’s degree typically take one to two years to complete. For example, the MBA (master of business administration) is an extremely popular degree program. For example, the MBA takes about two years to complete. Other master’s programs, such as journalism, only take one year.
The majority of a master’s program is spent in classroom study. In addition, a graduate student must prepare a long research paper. Regarding this, the paper is typically a “master’s thesis” or “master’s project.”
Many graduate schools consider the master’s degree as the first step towards earning a PhD (doctorate degree). However, many students prepare directly for a doctorate without also earning a master’s degree. It takes three to four years or more to earn a PhD degree.
For the first two years of the program most doctoral candidates enroll in classes and seminars. At least another year is spent conducting research, As a result, the student writes a thesis or dissertation. For example, this paper contains new views, designs, or research.
A doctoral dissertation is a discussion and summary of the current scholarship on a given topic. Most U.S. universities awarding doctorates also require their candidates to have to spend a length of time “in residence”. In addition, some require the student to pass a qualifying examination that officially admits candidates to the PhD program.
American Higher Educational System Institutions
Normally, degree programs in the American higher educational system are done a college or university. However, accredited on-line degrees are becoming more popular.
Concerning American higher educational system institutions, we discuss:
- Community College
- State College or University
- Private College or University
- Institutes of Technology
- On-Line Accredited College
As for applying for schools, traditional high school students research and visits schools that they want to apply to in their Junior high school year. Subsequently, in their senior year, students actually apply to schools in the fall of their senior year. Then, in the spring of their senior year, they find out which schools accept them. Finally, by the Month of May, students pick their school.
Applying for college can be very competitive. Therefore, good grades in high school are important.
Community colleges are two-year colleges that award an associate’s degrees (transferable), as well as certifications. In fact, there are many types of associate degrees.
Usually, there will be two primary degree tracks for associates degrees. Firstly, one is for academic transfer,. Secondly, the other prepares students to enter the workforce straightaway.
Community college graduates most commonly transfer to four-year colleges or universities to complete their degree. Because they transfer the credits, they complete their bachelor’s degree program in two or more additional years.
State College or University
A state school gets its support and is run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 U.S. states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges. Many of these public universities schools have the name of the state, or the actual word “State” in their names: for example, Arizona State University and the University of Vermont.
Typically, state schools are less expensive than private schools. In addition, state schools normally provide lower costs to students that reside in the particular state.
Private College or University
These schools are privately run. This is in contrast to being run by a branch of the government. Tuition is usually higher at a private college or university than state schools. Often, private U.S. universities and colleges are smaller in size than state schools.
Religious universities and colleges are private schools. Nearly all these schools welcome students of all religions and beliefs. However, there are a percentage of schools that prefer to admit students who hold similar religious beliefs as those in which the school was founded.
Institute of Technology
An institute of technology is a school that provides at least four years of study in science and technology. Some have graduate programs, while others offer short-term courses.
Accredited Online Degree Programs
An online degree is an academic degree that is done through the internet. For example, the course is done through the use of an Internet-connected computer, rather than attending college in a traditional campus setting.
Moreover, improvements in technology, the increasing use of the Internet worldwide, and the need for people to have flexible school schedules while they are working have led to a proliferation of online colleges.
In fact, online degree programs award associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.
However, make sure that the program has accreditation.
Characteristics of the American Higher Educational System
Classes range from large lectures with several hundred students to smaller classes and seminars with only a few students. The American university classroom atmosphere is very dynamic. Therefore, expect to share your opinion, argue your point, participate in class discussions and give presentations.
Each week professors usually assign textbook and other readings. Therefore, keep up-to-date with the reading requirements. Also, do the homework assignments so you can participate in class discussions. In addition, it helps understand the material. Certain degree programs also require students to spend time in the laboratory.
Professors issue grades for each student enrolled in the course. Grades are usually based upon:
- Each professor has a unique set of class participation requirements. For example, individual participation in class discussions as a requirement. Indeed, this is often a very important factor in determining a student’s grade.
- A midterm examination is at the half way point of the semester.
- Submit one or more research or term papers, or laboratory reports for evaluation.
- Possible short exams or quizzes are usually requirements. For example, professors give quizzes. These quizzes do not normally count heavily toward the grade. By way of contrast, they inspire students to keep up with their assignments and attendance.
- A final examination will be held after the final class meeting.
Each course is specifically worth a certain number of credits or credit hours. For example, this number is roughly the same as the number of hours a student spends in class for that course each week. Therefore, a course is typically worth three to five credits.
A full-time program at most schools is 12 or 15 credit hours (four or five courses per term) and a certain number of credits must be fulfilled in order to graduate.
Furthermore, students can transfer credits from one institution to another. For example, if a student enrolls at a new university before finishing a degree, most credits from the first school can transfer to the second school. Therefore, these transfer credits help to complete a degree at the new university. In other words, the transfers to another using existing credits. As a result, the student still graduates within a reasonable time.
Next Upcoming Articles
In our next upcoming articles on education, we will discuss:
- Higher Education Costs
- Higher Education Savings Plan
Therefore, please look for these when they come out.