The Education System in the United States

Compared to other higher education systems around the world, higher education in the United States is largely independent from government regulation and highly decentralized. This means that students are granted a wide-variety of choice. Pick from public or private universities, universities with small or large student populations, or religiously affiliated universities. Geographically, universities are just as diverse. Whether you prefer urban, suburban, or rural environments, there’s a perfect location that fits every taste.
American higher education is particularly popular given its strong emphasis on independent research, quality, diversity, and accessibility. Hence, more than 16 million students are enrolled in a university program every year in pursuit of either an associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree.

What’s the difference?



  • An associate degree program is designed for students interested in learning a skill or trade, and typically takes two years to complete. This degree option is ideal for individual’s who want to enter the workforce quickly or are looking to change careers. Associate degrees are usually offered at local community colleges where tuition is cheaper, and access is easier.


  • Bachelor’s degrees, on the other hand, are offered at nearly every university in the United States and take three to four years to complete. Acceptance into a bachelor’s program is more competitive than an associate’s program and often requires a student demonstrates prior academic achievements including standardized test scores.


  • Master’s and doctorate degrees are the most competitive degrees and require that a student has completed a bachelor’s or master’s degree program prior to applying. The length of study varies but can take anywhere from two to five years to complete. During their studies, master’s and doctorate students often gain practical experience and stipends via teaching opportunities through the university.

No matter where or what you study, degrees in the United States are almost exclusively taught in English, unless you’re studying another language. Therefore, strong English-language skills are highly recommended. If you’re not a native English speaker, you may also be required to prove your proficiency through a standardized test like TOEFL®. That being said, studying abroad in the United States is a great chance to improve your English skills which will be helpful during your studies and when you’re looking for a job after graduation!



Visas for International Students in the United States

Depending on your nationality, visa requirements to study in the United States may vary from person to person. If you’ve been accepted to study abroad at a university in the United States, you should check well in advance what you will need to apply for a visa.

Visa Types

There are three difference visas to study in the United States:


  • F-1 Student Visas: for study at an accredited U.S. college or university or to study English at an English language institute.
  • J-1 Exchange Visa: for participation in an exchange program, including high school and university study.
  • M-1 Student Visa: for non-academic or vocational study or training in the United States.



International students must work with two separate U.S. government agencies to obtain a student visa and be allowed entry into the country. The U.S. Department of State is in charge of the initial application process and issues visas. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, on the other hand, is responsible for granting students entry into the country after they have already received their visa.
Therefore, a valid student visa is required to apply to the Department of Homeland Security for admission into the United States. Once in the United States, the institution of higher education is responsible for providing the student with the appropriate official document (Form I-20 or DS-2019) which allows the student to maintain their student status in the United States, even if their visa expires during their studies.
All international students are required to obtain a student visa to study in the United States regardless of their country of origin. Due to time restrictions, you should apply for a study visa well in advance as the process can be lengthy. So, don’t leave it to the last minute!





There are more than 3000 Universities/Colleges in the USA. Please make sure you go to an accredited College or University. The goal of accreditation is to ensure that education provided by institutions meets minimum acceptable level of quality. More than a million students enrolled in the US for higher education in 2015/2016 (that represents around 5% of total students enrolled in higher education in the US).

University City, State Acceptance Rate
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA 8.29
Stanford University Stanford, CA 5.03
Harvard University Cambridge, MA 5.57
University of California-Berkeley Berkeley, CA 16.8
University of California-Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 17.2
Yale University New Haven, CT 6.72
The University of Texas at Austin Austin, TX 39.2
Cornell University Ithaca, NY 15.0
California Institute of Technology Pasadena, CA 8.80
Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus Atlanta, GA 32.1
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 65.5
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI 26.2
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA 17.6
Dartmouth College Hanover, NH 10.9
Duke University Durham, NC 11.4
Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD 14.1
Princeton University Princeton, NJ 7.13
Columbia University in the City of New York New York, NY 6.60
University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA 10.1
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 23.7
Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX 66.6
Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH 49.3
Northwestern University Evanston, IL 13.0
Williams College Williamstown, MA 17.6
Swarthmore College Swarthmore, PA 12.4
University of California-San Francisco San Francisco, CA  
University of California-Santa Barbara Santa Barbara, CA 32.6
Pomona College Claremont, CA 10.2
University of Chicago Chicago, IL 8.38
University of California-San Diego La Jolla, CA 33.7
North Carolina State University at Raleigh Raleigh, NC 50.4
University of Maryland-College Park College Park, MD 44.8
Rice University Houston, TX 15.9
Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus University Park, PA 51.3
Brown University Providence, RI 9.49
Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 11.6
University of Virginia-Main Campus Charlottesville, VA 29.7
United States Military Academy West Point, NY 10.1
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC 30.5
Emory University Atlanta, GA 23.6
University of Notre Dame Notre Dame, IN 19.7
University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 57.6
Haverford College Haverford, PA 24.5
Bowdoin College Brunswick, ME 14.8
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Troy, NY 41.8
University of Rochester Rochester, NY 33.8
Case Western Reserve University Cleveland, OH 36.2
University of Washington-Seattle Campus Seattle, WA 53.3
Georgetown University Washington, DC 17.2
Brandeis University Waltham, MA 34.0
University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Minneapolis, MN 44.5
Wesleyan University Middletown, CT 22.1
Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ 58.4
New York University New York, NY 32.0
College of William and Mary Williamsburg, VA 34.4
Purdue University-Main Campus West Lafayette, IN 58.9
Washington University in St Louis Saint Louis, MO 16.7
Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC 29.3
Tufts University Medford, MA 16.0
University of California-Irvine Irvine, CA 38.6
Boston College Chestnut Hill, MA 28.5
United States Naval Academy Annapolis, MD 8.52
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Blacksburg, VA 73.4
Tulane University of Louisiana New Orleans, LA 30.4
Davidson College Davidson, NC 22.1
University of California-Santa Cruz Santa Cruz, CA 50.2
Vassar College Poughkeepsie, NY 25.7
University of Iowa Iowa City, IA 80.7
Northeastern University Boston, MA 28.4
University of California-Davis Davis, CA 37.9
The US is the most sought-after study destination in the world.

More international students study in the USA than any other country, and for good reason. While many of the world’s top institutions reside in the US, there are also more than 4,000 other world-class universities offering a top-notch education that can lead to career success. The US remains the source of most of the world’s ground-breaking developments in technology, business, arts, and beyond.
Below are just some of the reasons that students choose the US.

  • Quality Education and Unique Curriculum

    US education is recognized all over the world. 30 of the top 100 best world universities are located in the US, as ranked by Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings for 2015/2016. One of the reasons students at US universities are so successful upon graduation is because they were educated in the “liberal arts”. This means a focus, not just on a specific major, but on other subjects such as various maths and sciences, philosophy, history, and literature.
    The benefit of liberal arts is that it prepares you for more than just your immediate career plan. It helps make you a smarter, more thoughtful, more successful person, able to succeed in a job in your major or thrive in some other field. You might become a manager, start your own business, or accomplish anything else that interests you. It provides limitless possibilities upon graduation.

  • It’s diverse

    US universities place great significance on diversity, meaning classes will consist of students of all ages, religions, and countries of origin. This provides a stimulating and rich learning environment which encourages cross-cultural understanding and networking. Most classes will contain no more than 20 students and the professors will take the time to get to know students and support their learning even outside the classroom.
    There is also always a very active social life on US campuses, with many clubs and organizations students can join that will help further career opportunities and allow interaction with students who have similar tastes and interests.
    The US overall is such a mix of cultures and that makes it an interesting place to study and to live. In many cities and towns, you will find varied cuisines and entertainment for everyone, whether it be international sports, world famous music festivals, or amazing art galleries and museums.

  • Employment prospects

    International students in the US can work in a job on campus up to 20 hours a week. Most find that their time is better spent taking internships, or Curricular Practical Training, which allows students to work for university credit in a job in a related field. Nearly every university, even those not located in big cities, has employees dedicated to helping students secure internships.
    All US universities also offer numerous extra-curricular activities that provide real-world job experience. This could include writing for the school newspaper, participating in science fairs, joining the debate team, and much more. The idea is to give you practical experience to hone what you learn in class. This becomes invaluable when interviewing for a job.
    All US institutions have a career services department staffed with professionals focused on helping students with their CV, teaching job interview skills, and helping them find job opportunities, both during and after their studies.

  • Flexibility

    Thanks to the sheer size of the US and the large number of institutions, there is a perfect fit for each type of student. Huge, sprawling campuses that feel like cities, and small, intimate campuses that feel like a collection of close friends. Tropical islands, arid deserts, snowy plains; the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Manhattan. In the US, there is truly something for everyone and every type of learner.

  • Learn English

    English is the primary language spoken in the US and all courses are taught in English. Students can develop their skills and become more desirable to employers. Most US campuses offer English language courses specifically for international students, as well as study groups and mentoring programs where students can practice their language training.


  • Popular with International students

    The US has welcomed millions of international students so knows what they need and has the support network in place to make you feel as welcome as possible. US universities have decades of experience with international students from all over the world. Our world is only becoming more international so understanding of other cultures is key to a student's future success.

  • Amazing innovation and Research

    The US is at the forefront of scientific and creative innovation. Large research institutions in the US, in particular, offer opportunities for students to work side-by-side with their professors and apply what they are learning in the classroom in the lab or workshop. US institutions proudly support the fieldwork their faculty is doing and information is readily available on research opportunities students can undertake.


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