The United States of America has approximately 5300 higher education institutions. These are a mix of vocational schools, technological institutes, service colleges and academies, junior colleges, private and public universities. The main difference between the colleges and the universities are that the universities teach and conduct research whereas the colleges focus just on providing education. According to the Times Higher Education rankings for 2019, seven out of the top 10 universities worldwide are in the United States including Stanford University in 3rd place and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 4th. American higher education institutions are open to international students as the Open Doors Report on International Education found that there were over 1 million international students enrolled in US universities in the 2018-2019 academic year. For more information on Higher Education in the United States, please refer to the official government website at https://www.usa.gov/higher-education.
The United States’ higher education system follows the common path of a Bachelor’s degree followed by a Master’s and then a doctorate. Bachelor’s degrees usually take a minimum of four years to complete, however there are options depending on employment which allow for a Bachelor’s degree to be completed in 5 years or in 3 depending on previous qualifications. During the time of a Bachelor’s, students must also complete general study requirement modules as well as their major. However, if students have fulfilled an International Baccalaureate degree or Advanced Placement, they may be exempt from these requirements. Master’s degrees are generally completed in two years and require an aptitude test.
In order to apply for an undergraduate program, students must have completed either the American College Testing Program (ACT) or the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) which are both standardized tests required by most universities. However, some colleges do not require these for application. IB, A levels and other qualifications are accepted, but in most cases, must be paired with results from the ACT or SAT. Veterinary, dental, law, medical, optometry and pharmacy students must take specific aptitude tests in order to be accepted which are listed at this link: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ous/international/usnei/us/tests.doc. There is no centralized body of administration to apply to the US, this is often done directly with university or on certain portals which many universities use such as Naviance for international students. Applications require test scores, high school qualifications, recommendation letters as well as essays determined by each university on an individual basis. In terms of the language, all courses are taught in English meaning that universities require a TOEFL test or a proof of language acquisition in order to accept students to the university.
Though the US is a popular university destination, its fees are among the highest with an average of 99’417$ paid over the course of their degree. However, fees vary. In the top tier of private universities, students spend approximately 60’000$ per year in tuition and living costs. At public universities, the cost for residents of the specific state are approximately 10’000$ and 26’000$ for non-state residents and international students. Depending on the area the university is located it, it may be a campus university with room-in-board or a city university with buildings spread across town.