USA Education System

USA Education System

USA Education System
Dilip Chaulagain

Studying in the US offers many benefits. Still, before choosing the program that best suits your interests, you should educate yourself on the US educational system. You should have all the knowledge necessary to make the best choice among the many available options.

The university experience in the United States is unique. Undergraduate and graduate students worldwide can access a wide choice of study opportunities in this country, home to renowned universities and distinctive speciality institutes.

US colleges offer excellent degrees, and students can study and collaborate with some of the best experts. The academic excellence of degrees from US colleges is recognized around the world.

The usual intake period in the USA is from September to May and can be divided into two 16–18 week academic terms known as semesters. Otherwise, some schools could operate on a trimester or quarter system with numerous 10–12 weeks terms.

No matter what kind of university they attend, overseas students in the US receive credits for the classes they enrol in, which add up to program completion. "core" subject areas often provide the backbone of a degree program, and "major" courses provide a subject area's specialization.

It's essential to comprehend the American higher education system if you wish to study abroad in America. It's crucial to understand how it operates if you want to attend one of the numerous institutions in the USA to acquire a bachelor's or master's degree.

International students can access possibilities to change their lives at US schools and universities. This comprehensive reference to higher education in the USA provides all the necessary information.

USA Education Structure

For all academic levels, the US has a wide selection of courses. Below, you will find a list of the US educational system.

Education Level


Primary School

  • It lasts for 6-7 years, from the beginning of kindergarten until Grade 5 or 6.

Secondary School

  • It starts in grade 6 or 7 and lasts till grade 8, lasting for two to three years.

High School

  • From ninth to twelfth grade, it lasts four years.

  • Upon completing high school, a diploma or certificate is awarded. U.S. kids may enrol in college or a university after completing high school and the 12th grade.

Higher Education

  • In the USA, students can continue their education after passing the 12th grade.

  • Higher education is defined as a college or university education.

Types of Educational Institutions in the USA

The United States has several different institutions providing high-quality education. The following categories apply to these:

Community Colleges

Community colleges are two-year institutions that offer transferable associate's programs and specializations. There are many associate degrees, but the most crucial distinction is whether the credential is mobile.

You can pursue your university studies for another two years after graduation to complete an undergraduate course.

Most graduates from community colleges finish their degrees by transferring to four-year institutions. They can spend their bachelor's degree program in two or more years since they can apply the credits they acquired while attending community college.

Vocational Schools

Vocational institutions are an excellent option for individuals pursuing professional education and employment training. They offer concise, career-focused programs to prepare you for work in professions like dental hygienist, civil engineer, chef, or many others that do not require a degree but training.

Private Colleges

Instead of being managed by a government division, these colleges are privately run. Typically, private institutions will charge more in tuition. Private American universities and colleges are frequently smaller than public ones in enrollment.

Universities and colleges with religious affiliations are private institutions. Students of all religions worldwide are welcome at almost all of these schools. However, many institutions favour enrolling students with the same religious convictions as the institution's founders.

State Colleges

A state's or a city's government funds and oversees a state school. At least one public university and perhaps multiple state colleges are operating in each of the 50 U.S. states. The identities of many of these public universities, like Washington State University and the University of Michigan, contain the name of the state or the term "State."

State institutions put out a request for a less expensive post-secondary option. They frequently offered a wide variety of degree programs. Additionally, students have access to a vibrant campus community, extracurricular activities, and cutting-edge learning environments.

Institute of Technology

A university that offers scientific and technology courses for at least four years is known as an institute of technology. Although some provide short-term courses, others have degree programs.

Universities focusing on technology, engineering, applied sciences, and natural sciences are known as institutes of technology.

Ivy League Colleges

One of the most renowned sets of universities in the entire globe is the Ivy League. It includes several storied universities, including Yale University, Columbia University, Dartmouth University, Princeton University, Brown University, and The University of Pennsylvania. They're all in the northeastern part of the country.

The most sought-after colleges and universities in the nation and the world are those in the Ivy League. These eight private colleges in the Northeastern United States are renowned for their rigorous admissions standards, academic brilliance, and suitable employment prospects for graduates. Brand familiarity and social standing are also helpful.

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Higher Education System in the USA

Unlike many other nations, higher education institutions are accredited by leading national or regional accrediting agencies. Let's look at higher education levels in the United States.

Higher Level



Associate Degree

2 years

  • Usually, 2-year programs are designed to teach foreign students the fundamental knowledge of courses.

  • They train students for careers at entry-level in industries like design, nursing, and education.

Undergraduate Degree

3-4 years

  • The programs are 4 years long and give students the training and instruction they need for most job opportunities.

  • Core subjects, a major, a minor, and electives are all part of the bachelor's degree in the USA for international students.

Graduate Degree

1-3 years

  • Foreign students are guided from their first degree to a specific career; the length of time depends on the topic of study.

  • Typically offered in the arts, humanities, and sciences, may lead to Ph.D. degrees.

Doctorate or Ph.D.

5-8 years

  • The degree is earned while working with a faculty advisor.

  • It is given to the student once the thesis has been completed and successfully defended in front of a committee of academic staff

Grading System

Like American students, you will be expected to send your academic transcripts as part of the application process for entrance to a university or college. Certified copies of your school study are academic transcripts. 

This comprises your "grades" and "grade point average" (GPA) in the United States, which are measures of your academic accomplishment. Percentages are routinely used to grade coursework, which is then transformed into letter grades.

GPA is one of the essential variables in American education because it is used in everything necessary, such as qualifying for scholarships, attending universities, graduating, or entering any organization.

The table below will help you better comprehend the grading system in the United States:


Letter Grade

4.0 Grade Scale

97- 100%


4.33 or 4.00

93- 96%



90- 92%



87- 89%



83- 86%



80- 82%



77- 79%



73- 76 %



70- 72%



67- 69%



63- 66%






0 - 59%



Application Deadlines

Some colleges provide an instant decision or enrollment deadline in November, while many top universities in the USA have conventional entrance application deadlines in January or February. 

Although it frequently necessitates a promise to enrol if approved, these earlier deadlines allow students to get a verdict as far in advance as feasible. For the following academic year, other universities will accept applications year-round under their rolling admissions processes (or year).

Respondents will be notified of their admission status for January or February application deadlines in March or early April. International applicants who submit their applications to institutions with rolling admissions, like many universities in the Shorelight partner network, typically hear back between a few days to three or four weeks.

Application Process

  • For undergraduate and graduate degrees, you can apply to numerous colleges using a single online form.
  • International applicants must take at least one exam to evaluate their level of English proficiency (e.g., TOEFL, IELTS, PTE Academic, Duolingo, iTEP). Undergraduate students must submit SAT or ACT results, whereas graduate applicants must provide a GRE or GMAT score.
  • Submit your credentials from all previous institutions attended, along with a formal essay and SOP.

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