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FOREIGN STUDENT SERIES - Part 2: Information You Will Need - 2001-09-10


This week on our series for foreign students, we explain the structure of university education in the United States. This information can prevent costly mistakes. You would not want to begin studying at a school that could not provide the degree you need.


Studying in the United States does not mean choosing a university that offers only the traditional four-year degree. You may want to consider a school that offers a certificate program. These programs are one year or less of training in areas such as office work, computer programming or automobile repair. When you complete the program, you receive a certificate stating the skills you have learned.

Make sure that any program you want to enter offers a certificate that is accepted by employers in your country and in the United States.

You may also choose a two-year junior college or community college. Such programs lead to an Associate degree. Some two-year programs prepare you for skilled trades or technical jobs in such areas as electronics and building. Many colleges and universities accept community college work as the first two years toward a four-year Bachelor’s degree. And a year at a community college costs much less than at a traditional four-year college.

Four-year college programs lead to a Bachelor’s degree. During the first two years, you generally take subjects such as English, history, mathematics, science and languages. What you take the last two years depends on your major area of study.

If you already have a college degree, you may be considering an American graduate school. You must continue your education in graduate school if you want to be a medical doctor, lawyer or college professor. A Master’s degree usually takes two or three years of full-time study. A Doctoral degree, or Ph. D., takes three to six years.

Some colleges, universities, hospitals and laboratories also offer a chance to do scientific research. You may want to communicate with one of them to see if you can do research in a subject in which you are interested.