Education System in USA: 2-year universities | 4-year universities

Education System in USA  | education system in the USA | best education system in us | The education system in united states of America | the school system in USA

The education system in the united states of America

The American educational system offers a rich set of options for foreign students.

There are such a variety of institutions, programs, and places to choose from that the choice can be overwhelming for students, even those from the United States.

As you begin your search for institutions, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the American educational system.

Understanding the system will help you narrow down your options and develop your educational plan.

Higher Education in the United States 

The terms “college”, “university” and “institute” are used interchangeably in the United States to refer to institutions of higher education that offer degree programs, like the five military academies in the United States.

There is no official or legal control over the institution’s option to choose one or the other term as part of its name.

Many institutions change their name when they add new programs and levels of study.


Many universities with two-year programs offer foreign students a very wide variety of services, although others are just beginning to develop such services.

Some offer facilities and programs for foreign students (including English as a second language), although not all of these institutions are authorized to issue the Form I-20 (the documentation necessary to apply for a student visa).

In such cases, foreign students must be permanent residents (immigrants) in order to attend these schools.


If it is planned to continue studies beyond the associate’s degree, studying first at a two-year university and transferring the credits later, it must be ensured that the academic credits are transferable to four-year study at the chosen university.

2-year universities

The universities that only offer two-year programs leading to the associate degree are institutions of higher education called community (community college in English) or junior (junior college in English). They can be the basis for later studies of longer duration at other universities.

Many students choose to study at a community college with the goal of completing the first two years of prerequisites.

They obtain a transfer degree called “Associate of Arts,” or AA (Intermediate Degree in Art), and then transfer to a four-year college or university.

Two-year colleges, in addition to the associate’s degree, sometimes also award certificates of merit upon completion of shorter technical programs.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES are two-year higher education institutions that award intermediate degrees (transferable or not) and also certifications.

There are many types of intermediate degrees, but the most important differentiating factor is whether or not the degree is transferable. There are generally two main pathways to the degree: one for academic transfer and the other to prepare students for direct entry into the workforce.

College transfer degrees are generally “associate of arts” or “associate of science”. The degrees that are not normally transferable are “associate of applied science” and “certificates of completion”.

Community college graduates generally transfer to four-year colleges or universities to complete their degrees. Since they can transfer the credits they accumulated while attending the community college, they can complete their bachelor’s degree program in an additional two or more years.

Many also offer English as a Second Language (ESL) or Intensive English programs, which prepare students for college-level courses.

If you do not plan to obtain a degree higher than the intermediate degree, you will need to find out if an intermediate degree can qualify you for a job in your home country.


In general, it can be said that they offer general education courses, technical education, and vocational preparation courses, which train students so that they can work immediately.

4-year universities

There are more than 2,000 four-year colleges in the United States, each with a unique identity. Each defines its own goals, emphases, and admissions standards. “Liberal arts” colleges, for example, emphasize excellence in teaching such subjects as humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and languages.

Universities can be public or private. High-level institutions are found equally between public and private universities; the difference lies in the origin of your funds. Public institutions use state government funds, student tuition funds, and donations.

Since public institutions are supported by the state government, they give preference to the enrollment and enrollment of students from their state. The cost is lower in public institutions than in private ones, even for students who are not residents of the state.

An “INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY” is an institution that offers at least four years of study in science and technology. Some have graduate programs, while others offer short-term courses.

Types of higher education in the United States


A state school is funded and run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 US states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges.

Many of these public colleges have the name of the state, or specifically the word “State” in their names: for example, Washington State University and the University of Michigan.


These schools are privately run, without the involvement of a government entity. Tuition, in general, is more expensive than in state institutions.

American private colleges and universities are often smaller than public institutions.

Universities and colleges with religious affiliations are private institutions. Almost all of these institutions accept students of all faiths and beliefs.

However, there is a percentage of institutions that prefer to admit those students who have religious beliefs similar to the beliefs on which the institution was founded.

It is good to become familiar with the classroom environment and the following terms:

Classes range from large conferences with several hundred students to smaller classes and seminars (discussion classes) with a small number of students. The classroom atmosphere in American universities is very dynamic.

You are expected to share your opinions, defend your arguments, participate in class conversations, and give presentations. For international students, this is one of the most surprising aspects of the American educational system.

Each week teachers generally assign textbooks and other reading materials. You are expected to stay up-to-date on required reading materials and assignments so that you can participate in class conversations and understand the lectures.

There are certain degree programs that also require students to spend time on assignments in the lab.

Teachers award grades for each student enrolled in the course. Ratings are generally determined as follows-

  • A midterm exam is usually taken during class hours.
  • One or more research or period monographs or laboratory reports must be submitted for evaluation.
  • A final exam will be held after the last class meeting.
  • Possible short quizzes or quizzes are conducted. Teachers sometimes conduct an unannounced “pop quiz”. This doesn’t count for much in determining grades but is meant to inspire students to keep up with their assignments and attend class.
  • Each teacher will have a unique set of class participation requirements, but students are expected to participate in class conversations, especially in seminar classes. This is generally a very important factor in determining a student’s grade.


If a student changes universities before completing a degree, she can generally use most of the credits accumulated at the previous school to complete a degree at the new university. This means that the student can transfer to another university and still graduate within a reasonable period of time.


Each course is worth a certain number of “credits” or “credit hours”. This number is approximately equal to the number of hours per week that the student attends class for that course. In general, a course is worth three to five credits.

In most schools, a full-time program comprises 12-15 credit hours (four or five courses per academic period) and the student must achieve a certain number of credits in order to graduate. Foreign students are expected to enroll in a full-time program during each period.



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