The US Education System
For information regarding GPA please check GPA
section. GPA reflects your existing grades in US grading format (actually widely used in many countries).
Most US universities have the tri-semester system - the fall, spring, and summer. Each semester is around four months.
The fall semester (starts in August/September)
This is the first semester of the year, which starts mid-August/Early September
and is less often called the autumn semester. The academic year begins this semester, and most aid and assistantships are offered during this period. Moreover, most new intake is during this period.
The spring semester (Starts in January)
Classes begin around the first or second week of January.
Most universities (say 85%) admit new students during this semester, but the student intake is less compared to fall. The chance of aid is lesser, but other on-campus part-time jobs are available year-round, good enough to take care of your living, accommodation, and personal expenses. Some universities call this the winter semester.
The summer semester (Starts around beginning of JUN)
This is the shortest of the three semesters and spans for two months and usually, starts in June. Very few universities have summer intake. Although the university, on the whole, may have summer intake, make sure the department accepts new students (this applies to spring as well). In several cases, regular students do not enroll for this semester and work full-time on campus (40 hrs/week) or take up industrial training.
What is Teaching Assistantship/TA
Teaching Assistants (TAs) generally help professors/teachers with the course like grading the home works or a particular topic in class. Helping students in class/exams etc. You can get TA from an instructor outside of your major. TAs will in most cases get in-state tuition fees, depending on funding available you may get a full tuition waiver or even some monthly stipend. TAs generally work 20 hrs/week.
The thesis and non-thesis option
This is mostly applicable to MS students.
A thesis option requires taking up a thesis, and at the end of which, a dissertation (should have a genuine or original idea) has to be presented and defended orally. This is a must for students enrolling in master's programs leading to a doctorate (Direct doctorate after under graduation). It is advisable for students having a desire, to pursuit up to doctorate level at a later stage, to choose this option. The non-thesis option typically requires a project to be completed by the end of the course. Student's opting for the project option on an average graduate in 4 semesters (1.5 years), and with a thesis option it takes on an average two years, with exceptions in both cases.
What are credit hours?
The US system usually allows a student to choose papers
(apart from some mandatory essential papers) And each paper will carry a certain number of credits say 3 or 4 (in the case of a project it would be 5 or 6). When the student fully fills the required number of credits; he or she graduates. In most universities, this requisite is 30 to 36 hrs for Non-thesis (usually carries a project) option. But for the thesis option, this requisite is much lesser, but with a thesis work to be presented.
In case if you want to change your major or university/college you may be able to transfer some credits (which you have already passed) to your new major or College. You just need to cover up the remaining credits to get your degree. There is generally a limit in the number of credits you can transfer (depending on the college/department).
Graduate or Undergraduate degree
A graduate degree is equivalent to Masters's or Postgraduate degree (In most cases it takes 2 years to complete). An undergraduate degree is a BS/Bachelor's degree.
General Difference between MS and ME
Master of Engineering Degree
Master of Science Degree
- Application and practice oriented
- Relatively inflexible curriculum due to accreditation requirements
- Includes both a thesis option and a non-thesis option
- Thesis standards established by Speed Scientific School
- Degree granted through Speed Scientific School
Computer Sciences/Computer Engineering
- Not accredited (nationally, no engineering M.Sc. degrees are accredited)
- Flexible curriculum
- Thesis is required
- Thesis standards established by the University.
- Degree granted through the Graduate School
In the US they are completely different departments (in most cases). Computer Engineering has more focus on hardware and Computer Science has more focus on software. In some countries CS and Computer Engineering is same. If you are focusing on software career CS is the degree you need to take.