American Education System: A Brief Overview

    Updated on: 04 Sep 2023


    Foreign education is considered a sure-shot way of boosting the career among lakhs of Indian families. As a result, student mobility among Indian students has been on a consistent rise in the last few years, even if it meant families spending their life's savings or even taking an education loan for that much-coveted foreign degree. Among various countries that are considered for a study abroad degree, the US is one of the most popular foreign study destinations among Indian students. If you too aspire to go to the US for your higher education and want to get a heads-up on the education system in the US, then you have come to the right place. This blog will discuss in detail the American Education System and will educate readers on how it is different from the Indian education system. So, without further ado, let's get rolling. 

    The US has no single education system. Surprised? Well, this is because the Federal Government of the US is not responsible for education at any level. At the most, it can fund education but the entire responsibility of the education system lies on the states. All the 50 states of the US are directly responsible for their education system. This, therefore, is the reason for the varied education system in the country. In the US, the student does not have to pass a Nationalized Board examination but has to clear the State Graduation Examination. 

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    Study levels in the US

    The US education system is divided into the following study levels: 

    1. Primary or elementary school - Six-year-old US children enter elementary school and study there for five or six years. 
    2. Secondary School - This consists of Junior or Middle school and High school. US children who finish elementary school enter Secondary School and are awarded a certificate or Diploma on graduating from High School (12th Grade). 
    3. Higher Education - Post High School, US students can enter College or University that is known as “Higher Education”. Higher Education in the US is further classified as follows:
      • Associate degree - This is a job-oriented 2-year program that helps students launch their careers. This is equal to the first two years of a four-year Bachelor’s program. Students who have completed high school can enter this program. 
      • Bachelor’s Degree - This is a 3 or 4-year undergraduate program that typically consists of core courses, electives, majors, and minors. Students who have finished High School can enroll for this degree. 
      • Master’s Degree - In the US, there are two kinds of Master’s degrees, i.e. Academic Master’s and Professional Master’s. The Professional Master’s program is for 1 to 3 years while the academic Master’s degree is for 2 years. The academic Master’s is awarded in conventional areas such as arts, humanities, and science. Students enrolled in a Master’s program are required to complete a research paper as part of their curriculum. Post the Academic Master’s degree, students can apply for a Doctoral program in the US. The professional Master’s degree on the other hand helps students enter into a particular profession with specialized knowledge in a field. 

    Types of institutions

    The following institutions provide Higher education in the US:

    1. Colleges - Colleges in the US provide undergraduate degrees. These are smaller than Universities. Students who complete college can gain admission to University in the third year and get an undergraduate degree. Most colleges in the US are community colleges and are cheaper than Universities. 
    2. Universities - Universities in the US offer Master’s, Doctorate, and Post-Doctorate programs. Universities in the US can either be Public Universities or Private Universities. Public Universities are run by the State Government while Private Universities combine For-Profit and Not-For-Profit Universities. Universities can further be classified as Ivy League universities, public ivies, special institutions, Land Grant Universities, and Research Intensive institutions. Ivy league universities consist of the top 8 colleges in the NorthEast. Apart from being in the top 8, these private-research Universities are also among the oldest universities in the country, and admission to these is extremely competitive. Public Ivies are a group of 30 public universities that could be state-funded. The cost of education at these universities is lower than the Ivy League. Specialist institutions provide degrees in special areas such as music, applied arts, visuals, etc. Land Grant Universities are big universities that are public-funded while research-intensive institutions provide the best of research education. 

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    Academic year

    Schools in the US begin in autumn, typically in August or September and continue till May or June. 

    Fee Structure 

    The fee structure largely depends on the type of University or college and the program the student is pursuing. MBA courses are the most expensive in the US while engineering and medicine degrees cost less than MBA but higher than other programs. 

    Financial aid 

    Both US and international students are eligible for a host of financial aids that help cut down their cost of higher education. Governments, educational institutes, and private organizations have a motley of aids for deserving students. Financial aid in the US could be need-based financial aid, scholarships, grants or fellowships, Teaching & reserach assistantships, athletic scholarships, or administrative scholarships. 

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    Grading system

    In the USA, students earn credits for the courses that they take. Completing a program requires a minimum number of credits that the student has to earn. 

    The US education system is known to offer varied possibilities of educational, professional, and personal growth. It is recognized as one of the leading education systems in the world and is highly welcoming of international students too. This is why it attracts a large number of international students, including Indians. 

    If you are one such Indian student who wants to go to the US for higher studies and need guidance, then get in touch with GyanDhan and get all the help that you need with your study in the US dream. We have an intensive admission counseling program that will help you shortlist the best Universities and programs in the US and even help you with your application to the University. You can also use our Admit predictor tool to shortlist the best universities or use our SOP review tool to get feedback on your SOP. And if you are falling short of funds to finance your education in the US, 

    GyanDhan will also help you get education loans. We have partnered with leading lenders in the country and help our students get the best education loans at the best terms and conditions. So what are you waiting for? Get in touch with GyanDhan now and start preparing to make your study in the US dream a reality. 

    First published date: 03 May 2021

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About author

Vishakha Bhagia
Interest in Finance with a flair for writing, Vishakha has written on education loans and the study abroad field for the last two years with articles published in Times of India, Outlook India, The Hindu, and many more publications.

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