With all the differences between the American education system, the professional training of specialists in the United States consists of several levels: from secondary vocational education to the degree. And the development of each of them is available to international students.
American professional education is divided into undergraduate and graduate. That is, pre- and postgraduate. To undergraduate is the receipt of associate’s and bachelor’s degrees, which is considered a primary education. A master’s and graduate school (doctorate) – this is narrow-profile postgraduate training or graduate education.
Community College (or Junior College, City College) is, an institution offering specialized secondary education. Of course, they are much less prestigious than universities, but often they are chosen by high school graduates. Because it is easier for them to enter those whose academic achievement at school was not high enough. And secondly, the cost of training in community colleges is much lower than in universities, which can not afford to study for many American families, and even less so for international students.
The curriculum in community college is usually designed for two years. After graduation, the graduate is assigned the so-called associate’s degree. This degree does not apply to scientists (as a master or bachelor) but confirms the receipt of a completed secondary specialized education.
In addition to the diploma with the above degree, the student of the school can receive the Graduate Certificate – certificate of completion. The difference between these two documents is that this certificate is not a document on completed education. The certificate of completion indicates that a student attends the course. Such a document can be obtained by going through separate courses offered by the curriculum. Although the certificate does not replace a diploma, it can be beneficial if the graduate wants to continue studying and go to university.
For many community college – only a step towards higher education. After all, despite the fact that now the schools offer a fairly large range of specialties, a graduate of such an institution will find it more difficult to find a job than a graduate of the university with the same specialization, even with a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes it’s easier to enroll for a bachelor’s program in an institution of higher learning after graduation because credits in some subjects can be included in the curriculum of the university program. Due to this, the cost of studying at the university can be reduced.
Another great opportunity is to transfer from community college to a university according to the “2 + 2” scheme or sometimes “2 + 3”. This means that after graduating from an average particular educational institution, a student can be enrolled to the university immediately on the second or third year, and he will need to complete his studies in 2 or 3 years to get a bachelor’s degree. It is also possible to enroll credits earned in the school.
Choosing to study community college as a springboard for further education in the university, it is essential to take into account not only the advanced training programs but also the possibility to “transfer” loans to the university program.
Baccalaureate is the first and fundamental stage of higher education, designed for four years. Graduates of the senior school and community college can enter the educational institution for obtaining a bachelor’s degree in any academic discipline.
The undergraduate curriculum is based on the so-called primary subjects: public, humanitarian and natural sciences, history, English and mathematics. Of all subjects, the student is asked to choose the major, which will be his specialization in the future. In addition to the basic, the student can also decide on the second most important subject, which is called minor. In the last two years of the bachelor’s degree, there has been a particular emphasis on these disciplines: additional subjects are added to the student’s study schedule, both mandatory and optional, which are directly related to the central discipline under study.
There are colleges and universities in the United States, which produce only bachelors in various fields. They are called “four-year college”. In such universities, specialists are trained in some areas for which the Master’s degree and higher are not required to work. For example, art, some areas of business, agriculture and engineering.
At the same time, there are branches, for example, jurisprudence and medicine, where without at least master’s degree can not be dispensed with. Therefore, often such specialties are not offered by four-year colleges.
It’s often easier to enroll in a four-year college, and it’s cheaper to study than in a full-cycle university. Students of the community college are usually transferred here. And graduates, wishing to continue their education and obtain a master’s degree, can be transferred during training or after graduating to another university offering a master’s degree.
This academic degree is awarded to graduates of the magistracy – the next educational level. Entering the Master’s program can only be awarded to bachelor’s degree.
The curriculum at this stage is already more specialized and focused on the primary academic discipline (specialization) of the student. By the way, this is not necessarily the discipline that the student studied to study in a bachelor’s degree. But, of course, the master’s direction should have a direct relation to it.
The vocational training of future masters is designed for 2-3 years and includes from 6 to 8 profile classes and any scientific research: scientific work, research, projects, thesis, which very often the student begins to engage in the bachelor’s degree.
Postgraduate and doctoral degree
To get a doctorate requires an average of 4-5 years of education in postgraduate (doctorate) for a particular graduate program – doctoral program. It involves in-depth study of core subjects, works on a scientific project, obtaining teaching experience (the graduate student teaches specific disciplines to undergraduate students), passing special exams and, of course, writing and defending a dissertation. The doctoral degree can be awarded in academic (PhD – Doctor of Philosophy), educational (EdD – Doctor of Education) or business area (DBA – Doctor of Business Administration).
It is logical to assume that the path to a doctoral degree lies through obtaining first a master’s degree. However, this is not always the case. For example, bachelors in technical specialties immediately after receiving a diploma can continue their education in graduate school, “jumping” through the magistracy and thus saving both time and money.