American School Programs
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American School Programs
Universities and colleges in all states of the USA are comparable in terms of how they are run, what they offer, etc. The information given below is therefore a general guide for students researching universities and colleges in the US, and has applicability to universities and colleges in each state. For the most current and specific details, students should also refer to individual state higher education agencies, as well as individual universities and colleges.

How are American universities different from colleges?
In the US, "university" and "college" (meaning 4-year college) are often used interchangably, and the difference can be confusing. The difference is not so much in name as in what kinds of credentials and programs they offer. American universities can be public (which are often called "state colleges") or private, and are post-secondary institutions offering undergraduate bachelor's degrees and, often, graduate degrees (master's or doctoral). Colleges may also offer bachelor's degrees, but generally offer 2-year, more vocationally-oriented credentials like applied degrees, associate's degrees, diplomas and certificates. An institution must be given the authority to grant the different types of degree.

What kinds of degrees are available?
At the undergraduate level, American universities and colleges offer 4-year bachelor's degrees as well as 2-year associate's degrees. In some disciplines, you can take combined degrees, in which you graduate with two degrees in 5 years. Some universities and colleges also offer applied degrees, which are similar to bachelor's degrees, usually take 4 years to complete, and combine an academic focus with practical, technical job-related skills.

How long will my university # in the United States take?
The length of your # depends on the credential you take. At the undergraduate level, you can pursue 4-year bachelor degrees, 2-year associate's degrees, 5-year combined degrees, 4-year applied degrees, 1- to 2-year diplomas, and certificates that run from 12 weeks to 1 year.

How much will it cost to #?
In part, cost depends on the type of institution (public, private, Catholic, Christian, etc.). Different credentials (a bachelor's degree versus a diploma) and different programs (say, architecture versus arts) can also have different tuition costs. Average undergraduate university tuition for international students in the USA ranges from $5,836 to $22,218.

Is financial aid available for international students?
Yes. International student scholarships, awards and bursaries are available from many universities and colleges in the USA, from the federal and state governments, and from NGOs or other organizations.

Do I need to speak another language other than English?
No. Universities and colleges in the USA offer programs in English.

How do I know which are the best schools in the state?
American universities and colleges are extremely diverse in size, age, programs and focus, and while there are external rankings of American institutions, these use different methods and so show different outcomes. Certain universities and colleges are well-known for the strength of their teaching and research in certain fields of # (like medicine, visual arts or agriculture), others for their modern, up-to-date facilities and libraries, and still others for the quality of their faculty-student interaction and innovative pedagogy. There are no objective "best" schools in any state: you can only look for the best ones for you.

How do I know if my credentials will be accepted at a university or college in the US?
US universities and colleges each set their own admission requirements; therefore, you should contact the registrar or admissions office at each school to find out what they require in terms of assessing foreign credentials. Most American universities and colleges have a special website section for international student admission requirements. You can also consult one of the US's credential evaluation services, which provide an evaluation that shows you how your credentials compare with American credentials. These offices charge a fee, and cannot guarantee recognition of your credentials. Know that there is no federal or state regulation of these services. However, there are two national associations of credential evaluation services with published standards that members must adhere to. Choosing a credential evaluation service that has membership in one of these national organizations is a good way to ensure they are legitimate and professional. The two national organizations are the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) and the Association of International Credentials Evaluators (AICE).

How do I get my transcripts and other documents translated?
The institution's admissions office can inform you about the requirements for translation and authentication of your documents. You can also consult one of the US's many foreign credential evaluation service offices for advice on translation requirements.

What kind of grading can I expect?
Each university and college has its own evaluation procedures and grading system, which are usually outlined in detail in the student handbook or Calendar (which can often be found online). In general, grading at American universities and colleges follows a letter system (A+, A, A-, B+, B, B-, C+, C, C-, D+, D, F), with each letter corresponding to a certain category (excellent, good, satisfactory, poor) as well as percentage range and grade point value. For example, a letter grade of "A" may represent a numerical grade of 90-95% and a grade point value of 3.7 on a 4 point scale. Most universities and colleges also clearly outline a student's # to file a complaint or request a grade review, as well as the procedures for doing so.

Can I live on campus?
Often. Not all universities and colleges have on-campus residences or dormitories, while some are known as "residential universities" and require students to live on-campus. Usually, however, residences are available and the choice to apply for a room is up to the student. Some universities and colleges give international students priority for residence spaces.

What services are available on campus?
This depends on the size and location of the campus. Generally, though, you can expect a university or college to have the following services: cafeteria/ food services; automatic teller machines (ATMs); library; counselling; faith services; bookstore; lost and found; student parking; student union/ student council; student clubs; nurse/ health services; computing services; services for disabled students; career placement services; sports and recreation programs/ facilities; and international student services. Universities offering classes at multiple locations may also offer a free shuttle service between campuses.

Where can I go if I have questions or problems?
There are a number of resources if you have questions or problems, depending on the type of question or problem it is. Some resources which can offer help are: Dean of Students, Academic Counselling, Personal Counselling, International Student Services, Students' Association, Student Union, Registrar's Office, Student Ombudsman.

Are American universities safe?
Yes. Most universities and colleges in the United States have their own campus security force, and many have personal security strategies like walk-safe programs for students who are on campus at night. Using your common sense on campus, like anywhere else, is still important for the security of your belongings and your person.

Will a degree from an American university or college be recognized in my home country and elsewhere?
Can I transfer my US credits toward a university program in another country?

It depends on where you come from. American university credentials from every state are accepted and recognized around the world; however, you should still ask about recognition of foreign university credits and credentials in your country of origin. A foreign degree is valued differently by different countries, so it's a good idea to check with universities and potential employers in your home country (if that's where you plan to work or continue your education) to confirm acceptance of US credits or credentials before you leave.
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