There are different options for higher education in the American education system for international students. International students can pursue undergraduate degrees as well as graduate degrees. These degree options are often confused because the terminology in much of the world is different. We are here to make it easier!
What is an Undergraduate Degree?
An undergraduate degree is a 2-year associate's degree obtained at a college, community college, or vocational/technical school, or a bachelor's degree typically awarded through a four-year college program. An undergraduate degree in the U.S. is referred to as a graduate degree in most other countries.
In almost all instances, students pursuing an associate's degree are required to have a 2.0 grade point average (GPA) and a high school diploma or equivalent. They may also be asked to take a school's entrance exam and pass language and communication capability screening.
Students pursuing a bachelor's degree usually must take the Scholastic Aptitude/Assessment Test (SAT) or the American College Testing (ACT) test before admission. International students may also be required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The test scores from all of these exams can influence a student's choice of schools and chance of being admitted to them.
What is a Graduate Degree?
The equivalent for graduate degrees in the US is known as post-graduate degrees in most of the world. A graduate degree is earned once a student has built a strong foundation through an undergraduate degree. A graduate degree is any degree earned after earning a bachelor's degree, such as a master's, a Ph.D., or even certification level programs.
A master's degree usually requires two years to complete and can be completed in any study area after a bachelor's. A Ph.D. is the highest level of academic credentials that a student can hold in a particular area of specialization and can take longer to complete than any other degree. On average, students take around 4+ years to earn a Ph.D. as they work and earn a Ph.D. at the same time.
Students, in most cases, have to have a high GPA in academic achievement for graduate school admissions. Applicants will likely be required to have taken the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) standardized test and submit test scores with a graduate school application. Also needed are the applicant's undergraduate transcript and, typically, letter(s) of commendation.
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