Degree courses in the USA
There are two types of undergraduate degrees on offer in the USA:
• Associate degrees – take two years to complete and are usually studied at technical, community or junior colleges. Students can study for an associate qualification in a range of subjects and then transfer to a Bachelors programme to complete an additional two years of study to gain a Bachelors degree.
• Bachelors degrees – take four years to complete. They differ from UK undergraduate degrees in that students study a variety of subjects before deciding on which to focus on, known as a ‘major’. Students may also gain a ‘minor’ qualification by completing classes in an additional subject alongside their ‘major’.
For entry onto a Bachelors degree you’ll need at least five GCSE passes and two A-levels. To ensure that your chosen university recognizes your qualifications you’ll need to contact the admissions office.
Known as ‘graduate degrees’ in the USA around 1,700 colleges offer programmes in a variety of subjects.
There are two types of graduate degree:
• Academic/research – usually completed in two years (some courses may only take one). Academic graduate degrees generally lead to a career in academia or research.
• Professional – these are designed to prepare students for particular professions. They take two years to complete.
Unlike in the UK there are no pure research graduate programmes on offer. Instead students learn through a combination of taught and research components. Students are also assessed on a more regular basis in the USA. Instead of undertaking a small number of large assessments you’ll face more frequent, smaller assessments.
Applying for a Masters degree follows a similar process to the UK. You will need a minimum of a 2:2 undergraduate degree from a recognized institution. It is worth remembering that there is no official conversion rate between UK A-level/degree results and US grades. Most institutions will have their own policy so it’s vital to get in touch before you apply.
A Doctoral degree is the highest qualification that a student can achieve in the USA. They typically take four to six years to complete.
To be awarded with a PhD you’ll need to pass comprehensive examinations and produce original research, usually in the form of a dissertation.
Commonly studied subjects include anthropology, biology, education, engineering, psychology and sociology.
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