Study in USA:
The United States of America
• The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic.
• The country consists of fifty states and a federal district.
• It is situated mostly in central North America.
• Most of the country (50 contiguous states and Washington, D.C., the capital district) lie between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans.
• The country is bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south.
• The state of Alaska is in the northwest of the continent, with Canada to the east and Russia to the west, across the Bering Strait.
• The state of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific.
• The country also possesses several territories in the Pacific and Caribbean.
Geography of the USA
• The United States of America is the third largest country in the world by area and has a varied topography.
• The Country is borders both the North Atlantic and North Pacific Oceans and is bordered by Canada and Mexico.
• The land area of the contiguous United States is approximately 1,900 million acres (7,700,000 km2).
• Alaska, separated from the contiguous United States by Canada, is the largest state at 365 million acres (1,480,000 km2).
• Hawaii, occupying an archipelago in the central Pacific, southwest of North America, has just over 4 million acres (16,000 km2)
• The eastern regions consist of hills and low mountains while the central interior is a vast plain (called the Great Plains region) and the west has high rugged mountain ranges (some of which are volcanic in the Pacific Northwest).
• Alaska also features rugged mountains as well as river valleys.
• Hawaii's landscape varies but is dominated by volcanic topography.
The United States, with its large size and geographic variety, includes most climate types.
• To the east of the 100th meridian, the climate ranges from humid continental in the north to humid subtropical in the south.
• The southern tip of Florida is tropical, as is Hawaii.
• The Great Plains west of the 100th meridian are semi-arid.
• Much of the Western mountains are alpine.
• The climate is arid in the Great Basin,
• It is desert in the Southwest,
• It is mediterranean in coastal California,
• It is oceanic in coastal Oregon and Washington and southern Alaska.
• Most of Alaska is subarctic or polar.
• Extreme weather is not uncommon—the states bordering the Gulf of Mexico are prone to hurricanes, and most of the world's tornadoes occur within the country, mainly in the Midwest's Tornado Alley.
Regions of the United States
There are dozens of ways that organizations split up the United States into specific regions. Sports teams do it one way, the government does it about ten different ways, and some Americans don’t even know what region they live in. In this article, we’re going to take a brief look at the nine regions of the United States as they are divided by the United States Census Bureau.
The Pacific region is one of the nine regions as determined by the Census Bureau. Five states are part of this region: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. These are the only states that have any borders on the Pacfiic Ocean. This region is considered to be a subregion of the Western United States, but is divided from the Mountain States because of vast differences in climate and ideologies between the two subregions. Many students will travel to the Pacific Region due to the diversity and perceived “open-mindedness” of this region.
The Mountain States
The Mountain States are another region as determined by the Census Bureau. The name for this region comes from the proximity of the Rocky Mountain range to each of these states. In some cases, these states are further separated into the Northwest Mountain States (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming) and the Southwest United States (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Utah). These states have higher elevations than anywhere in the United States. Several of the Mountain States have excellent schools that many international students consider attending.
Education in the United States is very similar to that in other countries. Primary education (called elementary school) and secondary education (middle and high school) are followed by optional tertiary education, which is referred to as post secondary education in the United States. There are a number of things that are considered part of post secondary education in the United States, including non-degree programs that lead to certificates and diplomas and associate, bachelor, first professional, master, advanced intermediate, and research doctorate degrees. he East North Central Region
The East North Central region contains Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Many people will refer to this area and its West North Central counterpart as the “Midwest” region of the United States. Historically, many of these states were part of the Northwest Territory. This region also borders on the Great Lakes, which makes the region a bit more temperate (it has four seasons, unlike other regions of the United States). This region is known for being one of the more inexpensive areas in the country to live, work, and/or study.
West North Central Region
The West North Central region consists of Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota. The Mississippi River separates the West North Central region from its eastern counterpart. Many of the states in the West North Central region have rich farmland, and that has helped to develop the nickname “the Heartland.” The West North Central region is a popular location for students to live because of the low unemployment rates and abundance of affordable housing.
New England is the northeastern corner of the United States; there are six states in this region (Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut). New England was part of the original 13 colonies that became the United States after the Revolutionary War. The earliest English settlements were located in this region (around Boston, Massachusetts). This region is historically rich and has a number of excellent universities that you can choose from. Unfortunately, it is one of the more expensive areas of the United States to reside, but that should not discourage you from studying in the New England region.
The Mid-Atlantic region of the United States is located in the “middle” of what is referred to as the East Coast. There is some debate (depending on the source) as to what is included in this region, but traditionally, these states are Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Washington D.C., New York, Virginia, and West Virginia. The Mid Atlantic is considered to be the “stereotypical American” region due to its influence on culture, commerce, trade, industry, and innovation. This region is also incredibly diverse, which makes it an ideal place for an international student to consider.
South Atlantic Region
The South Atlantic Region consists of the following states: Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It is one of the regions that is considered to be part of “the South.” This region has a warmer climate than its North Atlantic counterparts. The South Atlantic Region has a lot of places that are popular with international students, especially in the state of Florida, where many international students will consider studying.
East South Central States
The East South Central States, along with the South Atlantic and the West South Central States, are considered to be part of “the south.” These states include Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. This region is referred to as “Old Dixie” by several books. This region is known as being part of the core of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, and all four of these states are very similar in topography and culture. There are several high-quality universities in the East South Central region that international students consider for their education.
West South Central States
The last region we will discuss is the West South Central region. Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas are the four states that make up this region. This region is incredibly diverse, especially in Texas, and many of the residents of this region are “traditional southerners.” Many of these people have independent spirits and much of the culture reflects that mindset. There are several excellent universities in this region that people from all over the world attend for both undergraduate and graduate programs.
As you can see, each of these regions is unique in terms of geography, history, culture, and education. This will be very important to understand when determining where in the United States you want to study. In this guide, we will do our best to give you an overview of what you can expect throughout the United States, instead of trying to focus on each region individually.
History of Higher Education in the United States
The first colleges in the United States were religious institutions modeled after Oxford and Cambridge. The first of these, Harvard, was founded by the colony of Massachusetts in 1636. Shortly after, in 1693, the College of William and Mary was founded for the same purpose. Several other schools popped up throughout the colonies for the purpose of educating ministers and political leaders, and you can find more specific information about those schools in our Ivy League section, because these are the schools that developed into the most prestigious schools in the United States.
The United States Educational System Today
Different educational institutions will offer different degrees. Here are the different types of educational institutions that you will see throughout the United States.
Community Colleges. Community colleges offer associate’s degrees, some certificates and vocational degrees, and some bachelor’s degrees, depending on the college that you attend.
• Vocational Schools. Vocational schools only focus on certification for particular vocations, including dental hygienists, civil engineering, culinary arts, and a number of other vocations that do not require a degree but do require training.
• Colleges and Universities. In the United States, there is very little difference between a college and a university. The standard difference is that a college has a specific set of degrees that they offer, and a university is a collection of colleges. If you attend a university, you may graduate with a degree from that university’s college of business or college of education. But you can also attend a college, which often has fewer degrees for you to choose from (i.e. Bible College, etc). A college or a university can offer anything from an associates’ degree to a doctoral degree.
• Graduate Schools. Graduate school in the United States is what is known as a postgraduate school in other countries. Usually graduate schools are associated with a university that also offers bachelor’s degrees. These schools can offer Master’s and Doctorate level degrees and certificates.
• Seminaries. Seminaries exist for religious education, and are used to teach ministers and other clergy members about a variety of topics related to the religion that they are serving under.
The United States is currently the most popular country in the world to study. About 16% of all students who decide to study abroad go to the United States for their degree. Almost 750,000 students come to the United States every year to study, so if you decide to do so, you will not be alone. Even though higher education in the United States is known to be more expensive than that in other countries, there is a lot of financial aid available to international students, which we explore more in our Financial Aid and Scholarships articles.If you want more information on higher education in the United States, take a look at the United States Department of Education website. They have a number of resources there about the history of the higher education system in the United States and where it currently stands, along with resources for financial aid and other things that you may need in order to study in the United States.
In the United States, there are several levels of academic degrees to earn. Undergraduate degrees typically refer to Bachelor’s degree programs. The courses of study to obtain a Bachelors degree are usually designed to take four years of full time study. Some students take extra classes, or start their degree track with college credits earned in high school so that they can obtain the degree in as few as three years.
Earning an Undergraduate Degree in the United States
A Bachelors degree may also take five years to earn for more involved courses of study, such as business. There are also Associates degrees which are designed as two year programs to lead into trade work or an additional two years of study to earn a Bachelors degree.
The Associate’s degree is often a building block that results in obtaining a bachelor’s. An Associate’s degree is offered by community colleges in the United States. Community Colleges are universities that are operated or overseen by the state, and are related to state universities in that way. The community colleges structure their courses of study to award two year degrees in trades or in subjects to prepare their students to continue on for a Bachelors degree. They sometimes form partnerships with full universities such that the community college provides the first two years of courses, and the student gains automatic enrollment in the university to finish the final two years of their Bachelors program. For most trade professions an Associate’s degree from either a ere are multiple types of Bachelor’s degrees to earn. The program selected for study dictates which type of degree is earned. These programs usually offer one of two major categories; Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Sciences (B.S.). There are several other degree types to earn including the following; Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), Bachelor of Engineering (B. Eng.), Bachelor of Education (B. Ed.), Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs (B.S.P.A.), Bachelors of Philosophy (B. Phil.), Bachelors of Architecture (B. Arch.), and Bachelor of Business (B. Bus.). Many colleges offer different tracks of academia within the degree programs they offer. An important fact to consider is that in the United States, there are no undergraduate programs for Medicine or Law. These programs are graduate programs that typically require an undergraduate degree to begin.
These typically include a standard difficulty level, and an honors level which is offered to students with higher grade point averages. The honors courses of study typically include more intensive study, independent research and projects, and specialized honors seminars. Some universities that offer the honors program will also allow students to focus on an honors program within a specific area of study, such as mathematics. These courses also offer notations on the diploma, often written with the Latin phrase “in cursu honorum” for a student who completed the honors track in a university. For students who obtained honors in a specific subject, they will receive a notation on their transcript of “with honors in” and the subject they completed the requirements for.community college or a trade school is enough to move into a profession. Beyond the degree track and program, there are other awards that can be noted on a diploma based on the G.P.A. achieved in the course of obtaining the degree. It is a scaling honors system based in Latin. From lowest to highest, the common annotations are “cum laude,” “magna cum laude,” and “summa cum laude.” The subject of study selected can influence whether the Bachelors degree program works towards preparing the student for the work force and beginning a career, or if the program is designed to prepare the student for furthering their study with a graduate and/or post-graduate level program of study.If you have questions about the types of undergraduate degrees that you can earn at the university you wish to attend, contact the university that you are seeking to attend. You can also look at the College Board website to see what universities offer the degree that you want to pursue
Earning a Postgraduate Degree
If you are looking to attend post graduate school in the United States, there are a number of factors that you should consider. A postgraduate degree is considered to be any degree or certification that requires a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite to beginning the program.
There are three main categories of postgraduate degrees:
• Professional Masters,
• Academic Masters, and
• Doctoral degrees.
Professional Masters programs, also called terminal programs, are designed to lead directly to employment rather than further education.
Academic Masters are the opposite, designed to prepare the student to continue on for a Doctoral degree. It can take anywhere between one and three years to complete either of the Masters degrees.
The most advanced degree that can be earned is the Doctoral degree. They can take anywhere between four and eight years to complete between the coursework and the dissertation.
Requirements for postgraduate degrees vary worldwide. In the United States, many of the graduate programs, a term used in North America to indicate the Masters level degrees, require the degree candidates to pass examinations to demonstrate their capabilities. These range from the standard final exams of individual courses, to a cumulative exam at the end of the academic year, or even at the end of the program to cover everything that should have been learned within the program. There are also cumulative examinations given in the first year to determine the grasp on the knowledge that should have been gained over the course of obtaining the undergraduate degree.
The Masters level degrees, usually the Academic route programs, often include a requirement of a Masters Thesis, a unique piece of research in the field of the program to be presented and defended to earn the degree.
Masters candidates have a variety of funding options available to them depending on the university they attend. These can include various duties ranging from directing the residence activities of dormitories, to teaching, and assisting the faculty in their department with grading, tutoring, or research. Students selected for these duties can sometimes obtain tuition waivers, and stipends that can cover many living expenses. The department your program is a part of may also have some discretionary funds with which to provide funding to present research and attend conferences. Doctoral degrees are the most advanced of the postgraduate degrees. They typically follow after an Academic Masters program, but those who take the Professional Masters route may come back for a Doctoral degree as well. The period of time required to earn this degree has lengthened considerably over the years, and now can take anywhere from four to eight years.
The doctoral program was initially intended to take only two to three. With the first two to three years of their studies, doctoral students complete their coursework and develop their idea, if not begin their research, for their doctoral thesis. Following the coursework is generally a cumulative exam, much like at the Masters level. This qualifying examination tests the students’ comprehension of their field, covering cumulatively the specifics of their doctoral coursework, as well as a broader sample of the information from their field as a whole. In passing these exams, the students move onto the next, and longest, phase of their final stage of education, Doctoral candidacy.
As a Doctoral Candidate, the student will spend the next three to eight years performing the research for their thesis. Competition for jobs at this level is highly competitive, and many Doctoral candidates choose to delay the completion of their thesis, staying in their program to keep access to university ties and archives that make publication and obtaining employment more easy. The Doctoral program finishes with a presentation of and defense of the candidate’s thesis, and if successful, the Doctoral degree.
Doctoral candidates have a larger variety of funding options available to them than those at the Masters level. Universities are very competitive over these students, and so will offer tuition waivers more readily, as well as increasingly generous stipends to supplement living costs. As with the Masters level, the duties performed for this funding can include teaching, assisting with research, and assisting faculty in general.
At some universities the students are also paid to work on their own research. Departments in the universities, as stated above, often have discretionary funds that they use to fund things such as conferences, research presentations, travel, etc. Students can even arrange fellowships with companies in their field on occasion where the company will pay for tuition costs and offer a salary in exchange for a few years of service.
If you are looking for a university for postgraduate education in the United States, you can take a look at the Princeton Review’s graduate programs search or the Peterson’s guide to finding the right graduate school. Both of these websites are recognized around the world as reliable sources about postgraduate education.
While you are looking for universities, you may want to consider narrowing your choices down to three to five schools. This may seem difficult, especially because there are literally thousands of universities across the United States, but you can use the following categories to help you narrow it down.
• What program are you planning on pursuing? Not every university has every field of study available at the level you may be looking for. Some universities may have a bachelor’s program in your field of study but may not have a Master’s level degree available
• Is there a specific region of the United States that you want to study in, or do you not have a preference?
• Do you have a price range that you want to try to stay in? Some universities in the United States will cost much more than others.
• Do you wish to stay at the same university for undergraduate and postgraduate studies? Not all universities in the United States have Master’s and/or Doctorate programs.
• Would you like to study in a rural area, a suburban area, or an urban area? Your experiences will be different depending on the area that you study in.
Another important part of applying to schools in the United States is to make connections as quickly as possible. Almost every university or college in the United States has an international student adviser or office that you can talk to about the university and any questions or concerns that you may have. They can also help you with the application process and can connect you with other international students who attend the university who can tell you about the experience.
• F-1 Visa. Most students who go to the United States for university will go on what is called an F-1 Visa. This visa is for students who are in elementary school, secondary school, seminary, conservatory, academic institutions, language training programs, university, and/or college.
• M-1 Visa. These visas are for those who are attending vocational schools, or another recognized non-academic program.
There are no exceptions to this, either; even if you are part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) program or have a Visitor “B” Visa, you cannot study in the United States for an extended period of time unless you are taking a short class as part of tourism (and not toward a degree). You must have a F-1 or M-1 visa in order to attend the United States university which you were accepted to. Next, you will have to go through an interview process if you are between the ages of 14 and 79. The consular officers at the Embassy will perform the interview. If you are concerned about the amount of time necessary, check out the U.S. Embassy FAQ page about wait times. These can change, so make sure you apply early. You can have your visa issued up to 120 days before you start your coursework, but you cannot enter the United States until approximately a month prior to that date.
Applying for a Visa
You have to follow several certain steps in order to apply for a visa. You can check out the particular steps that students from your home country have to follow from the United States Embassy located in your country. If you do not know how to contact them, take a look at the U.S. Embassy website and find your closest Embassy. Next, you will have to go through an interview process if you are between the ages of 14 and 79. The consular officers at the Embassy will perform the interview. If you are concerned about the amount of time necessary, check out the U.S. Embassy FAQ page about wait times. These can change, so make sure you apply early. You can have your visa issued up to 120 days before you start your coursework, but you cannot enter the United States until approximately a month prior to that date.
There will be some documentation that you will need to take with you when you attend your visa interview. Here are some of the items that you should have with you at that point.
• Passport valid for travel to the U. S. – Your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your period of stay in the U. S. (unless exempt by country-specific agreements).
• There is an online application, known as the Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. Complete this and print it out when you go to the interview. You will also have to pay a fee and upload a photo.
• Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status-For Academic and Language Students, Form I-20A-B or Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (M-1) Student Status for Vocational Students, Form I-20M-N– Your university will send you the appropriate forms and let you know which of these that you have to submit at your visa interview.
• Proof of your academic progress. This can include any secondary schooling degrees and anything that you may need for postgraduate work.
• Your intent to depart the U.S. upon completion of the course of study. This is usually paperwork that you need to sign that states you will leave the country after you have finished schoolwork. This is only necessary if you live in a country that has an excess of immigrants in the United States currently.
• How you will pay all educational, living and travel costs. This is also dependent on the country that you live in.
The United States Embassy and your university will tell you which of these you will have to bring to your interview; many of them are dependent on the country that you currently reside in. Please remember, just because you are given an interview does not guarantee that you will be given a visa. If you come across any issues during your interview process that bar you from getting a visa, you can reapply and have another interview if you need to.
• New Hampshire
• New Jersey
• New Mexico
• New York
• North Carolina
• North Dakota
• Rhode Island
• South Carolina
• South Dakota
• West Virginia