U.S.A has a higher literacy rate as compared to other countries and is ranked among the top in the world for the highest percentage of individuals with degrees. This is primarily because of the high quality of education offered, rising number of institutes of higher education, highly skilled educators and an equal emphasis on practical and theoretical learning. The U.S system of education offers ample opportunities for students to gain knowledge, broaden horizons and understanding, gather varied life enriching experiences while making a significant addition to their employability. Flexibility of the system allows students to choose subjects of their liking, which is one of the reasons why it is a popular destination for many foreign students.
Overview of US Education System
- A large number of public and private universities offer post-secondary education at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels.
- Undergraduate level courses are offered in various fields such as Arts, Science, Engineering and technology, Medicine and traditionally have a time span of 4 years (Although additional time is provided when deemed necessary). The basic admissions criteria include good high schools scores, high performance in standardized tests such as SAT, ACT, etc and a good overall personal profile (this is true for all of the A and B ranked universities).
- Master's degrees are generally rigorous, full-time 2 to 3 years courses. A master's degree from a good university invariably makes you a master of the field. Depending upon the structure of the program you may have to write a thesis. However there are some courses that do not require you to write one. Some master programs are aimed at preparing students for a higher degree and credits from such programs could be transferred towards a PhD.
- Doctorate degrees are usually 4-6 year programs. They aim at imparting education and training in very specific fields of study. PhD students are expected to do extensive research and are required to file a dissertation in order to complete the course. Doctorate degrees in the US are generally funded. Students pursuing a PhD are paid a monthly stipend to cover living and education expenses.
POSITIVES OF THE U.S EDUCATION SYSTEM:
- Quality of education is high, medium of instruction is English and the degrees are recognised globally, opening plenty of work opportunities.
- The education system is unique with stress on practical aspects of learning. Students learn mostly from hands-on experience.
- The flexibility of the U.S education system adds to its uniqueness. Unlimited and novel specialisations to choose from attracts students from all over the world.
- Skilled faculty members form the heart of the educational system in the U.S. Each faculty is chosen with care specifically for their exceptional qualifications and knowledge in their particular field. These professors guide students through their courses, teaching them the basics and encouraging them to think out the box.
- Up to date research facilities and advanced technologies allow students the luxury of abundant exposure in their chosen field of study.
- Global collaborations and exchange programs provide students with endless opportunities to try their hand at the current work that is being carried out thereby exposing them to the challenges and environment of real-world research.
- Job opportunities after completing a course are abundant and starting salaries are high.
- U.S.A is a multicultural hub of education with many cultures, and people from various backgrounds come together for a common interest that is knowledge. This environment allows students to broaden their horizons and eliminate narrow-mindedness from their thinking.
- U.S.A is a safe and friendly country, irrespective of your race or religion, which makes its students feel welcome and at home.
The U.S education system has many positive factors, demands out of the box thinking and thus allows students to discover their complete potential. This adds to its appeal making U.S.A one of the most ideal destinations for higher education.
Over the past two decades, many US universities have been offering individual courses or even full time degrees at undergraduate and graduate levels online, facilitated through the Internet. Some institutes also offer 'low-residency programs' which are mostly online and require some on campus attendance. The fact that online courses can be taken while working makes them popular amongst professionals. Students may prefer online courses for flexibility and convenience. Usually, online courses with credits that count towards a degree charge a fee while courses without credits are mostly free. Course fees can vary widely from one university to another but in general online colleges are more affordable than the traditional ones.
In general all of the top universities ask for a good GRE/GMAT score and proficiency in English needs to be established through tests like IELTS/TOFEL. It is advisable to understand the eligibility criterion of the university you are applying to as a few universities do accept applicants without a GRE score. Universities examine all applications throughly before admitting the student.
Two main intake seasons of U.S. universities are Fall and Spring. Fall semester begins around mid of August and ends in December. Spring intake starts in the month of January and concludes in early May. Some universities allow a summer intake where new students can be accepted in May. Fall intakes usually see higher applicants and many of the deserving students choose to apply for the Fall semester.
Foreign students require an F-1 visa for attending academic institutions. This visa allows them to stay in the United States while being enrolled as a full time student. All students with F-1 visas are allowed to work part time during courses and full time during vacations to support tuition and other expenses. Other visa types include J-1 visa for exchange students and M-1 visa for non academic studies.
Studying in USA is not exactly cheap, especially for foreign students. The higher education system in USA is highly decentralized and fee structures are largely unregulated. Public and non profit institutes charge lesser tuition and other fees as compared to private institutes. International students are almost always charged much higher than the US nationals. However some universities do have a policy of providing financial assistance to deserving international students. Students may apply for full/part scholarships and educational loans or may choose to work on or off campus to cover education and living expenses.