"Higher education" in the United States refers to all formal education beyond the secondary level. The United States does not have a national university system but rather many private and public institutions, each with differing academic regulations, calendars, departmental structures, and course offerings.
According to UNESCO the USA has the second largest number of higher education institutions in the world. According to the Webometrics Ranking of the World Universities the main 103 US universities are in the Top 200.
Public universities, private universities, liberal arts colleges, and community colleges all have a significant role in the United States 'higher education. The American university system is largely decentralized. In the United States, the term college is frequently used to refer to stand-alone higher level education institutions as well as to the components within a university. American universities have developed independent accreditation organisations to vouchfor the quality of the degrees they offer. The accreditation agencies rate universities and colleges on criteria such as academic quality - the quality of their libraries, the publishing records of their faculty, and the degrees which their faculty holds.
Universities are research-oriented institutions which provide both undergraduate and graduate education. Colleges and universities in the USA vary in terms of goals: some may emphasize a vocational, business, engineering, or technical curriculum while others may offer a liberal arts curriculum. Many combine some or all of the above.
The majority of public universities are operated by the states and territories. Each state supports at least one state university and several support many more. There exist many private universities as well and some of them are involved in religious education.
Tuition is charged at almost all American universities, except the five federally-sponsored service academies and a few institutions. Public universities often have much lower tuition than private universities because of the funds provided by state governments and residents of the state. Students often use scholarships, student loans, or grants, rather than paying all tuition out-of-pocket.
Students traditionally apply to receive admission into college, with varying difficulties of entrance. Admission criteria involve grades earned in high school courses taken, the students ' GPA class ranking, And standardized test scores. Students can apply for some colleges using the Common Application. There is no limit to the number of colleges or universities to which a student may apply, though an application must be submitted for each. Some students, rather than being rejected, are "wait-listed" for a particular college and may be admitted if another student who was admitted decides not to attend the college or university.
Once admitted, students engage in undergraduate study, which consists of four years of study leading to a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or to a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, though there are others. Thus students sometimes can get Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), a Bachelor of Social Work (B.S.W.), a Bachelor of engineering (B.Eng.,) Or a Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) Degree. Five-Year Professional Architecture programmes offer a Bachelor of Architecture degree (B.Arch.)
Degrees in law and medicine are not offered at the undergraduate level and are completed as graduate study. Graduate programmes grant a variety of master's degrees - such as a Master of Arts (MA), a Master of Science (MS), a Master of Business Administration (MBA), or a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) In the USA a Master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded after the completion of an academic programme of one to six years in duration.
Students who want to advance their education even further in a specific field can pursue a doctorate degree, also called a PhD. A PhD degree can take between three to six years to complete, depending on the course of study chosen, the ability of the student, and the thesis that the student has selected.
Some universities have professional schools, which are attended primarily by those who plan to be practitioners instead of academics (scholars / researchers). Examples include journalism school, business school, medical, law, veterinary and dental schools.
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