Education System in USA - Understand How it Works
Let’s find out how the American education system works
Study levels in the US
- Elementary school
- Middle school/Junior high school
- High school
- Higher education
Here’s an overview of the qualifications available in the US:
Types of institutions
There are various types of institutions in the US that provide quality education. These can be categorized into:
Smaller than the universities, colleges generally provide undergraduate degrees. Community colleges, an affordable study option in the US, offer two-year associate degrees after which you can continue your studies in the university for another two years to gain an undergraduate degree.
Offer research-based masters, doctoral and post-doctoral degrees. There are mainly two types of universities in the US:
Mostly state universities, established and run by the state government
A mix of profit and not-for-profit supported by tuition fee and donations; approximately 20% of students attend private universities
Universities may further be categorized into:
Liberal Arts Philosophy
Tuition fee solely depends on the type of qualification and university or college you choose. Courses in medicine and engineering are likely to be more expensive. As with most other countries, MBA programs are often the most expensive. The tuition fee spent annually can range anywhere between US$ 10,000 and US$55,000.
English language studies: $700 to $2000 a month
Community colleges: $6000 to $20,000 per year
Undergraduate bachelor degree: $20,000 to $40,000 per year
Graduate programs: $20,000 to $30,000 per year
(An MBA degree can cost significantly more, as can professional programs such as law, medicine, dentistry, some design programs, etc.)
Doctoral degree: $28,000 to $55,000 per year
(Most doctoral degrees are 100% funded through research/teaching assistantships, research aid and bursaries.)
You will need to pay tuition fees before you begin your studies. There could also be additional costs such as specific course materials and access to institution facilities.
You can fund your studies by availing various kinds of financial aids available. These can be classified into:
- Need-based aid
- Athletic Scholarships
- Scholarships / Tuition Waivers
- Fellowships / Grants
- Teaching Assistantships
- Research Assistantships
- Administrative / Residence Assistantships
These aids may be provided by the government, private organizations or educational institutions. Keep in mind that the competition for such aids is high and thus you must apply for them in advance.
Pedagogy in American classrooms
USA universities place great significance on diversity, meaning classes will consist of students of different ages, religions and ethnicities. This provides a stimulating and interesting learning atmosphere that motivates cross-cultural understanding and socializing.
Most classes will have no more than 20 students and the faculty member will take the time to get to know students and their strengths. Interactive and practical learning are the basis of American teaching. Professors are usually willing to spend time outside of class to offer further support. Campuses in the US also offer an active social life with many clubs and organizations for students to meet other students with similar interests and further career opportunities.
Most American universities and colleges commence their classes in August/September usually known as the Fall session. A few others also provide a January/February intake, called as the Spring intake that goes on till April. In fact, a Summer intake is also available for limited programs and colleges between the months of May and August.
The duration of each course depends on the university and specialization. Most bachelor’s degrees take three to four years, master’s take one to two years and doctoral degrees may take four to seven years. The academic year at many colleges comprises of two terms called the semesters. Some may have a three-term calendar where it is referred to as the trimester system.