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Education and diplomas United States

2018-11-14 13:53:34

n Education system United States




n Introduction


The United States is a federal republic made up of 50 states, one district (the capital) and four territories. The president is the head of state.

The education system in the United States is very diverse, with major differences in level, content and quality. None of the various phases of education conclude with a standardized final examination. For this reason, the concept of standardized entrance and outcome levels does not exist in the American system. This means that the content of the relevant programme must always be examined to determine how the course will be evaluated; the diploma itself

indicates very little.

The academic year runs from September to May/June, and education is compulsory until the age of 16 or 18, depending on the state. The language of education is English.


n Common diplomas of the United States


High School diploma

1. Duration of schooling: 6 years.

2. Type of education: general secondary education.

3. Purpose of diploma: admission to higher education, if the applicant’s results comply with the chosen university’s standard requirements (if applicable).

Associate’s degree (terminal/vocational program)

1. Duration of schooling: 2 years.

2. Type of education: usually secondary vocational education.

Associate’s degree (transfer program)

1. Duration of schooling: 2 years.

2. Type of education: professional or research oriented.

3. Purpose of diploma: admission to the third year of a university bachelor, if the applicant’s results comply with the chosen university’s and/or study programme’s standard requirements.

Bachelor’s degree

1. Duration of schooling: 4 years.

2. Type of education: professional or research oriented.

3. Purpose of diploma: admission to university masters, if the applicant’s results comply with the chosen university’s and/or study programme’s standard requirements.

Master’s degree

1. Duration of schooling: 1 to 3 years.

2. Type of education: professional or research oriented.

3.Purpose of diploma: admission to doctorate programmes.\


n Assessment systems


Grading system

The following system applies to all forms of secondary and higher education,

unless otherwise indicated on the transcript (there are many variations as well as more detailed grading systems):

Numerical grade

Numerical grade

Description

4

A

excellent/superior

3

B

very good/above average

2

C

average

1

D

below average

0

F

failure


Credit system

Various credit-point systems exist for the quantification of study programmes, all of which are based on the number of contact hours and not on the study load as a whole. The systems most commonly used are described below.

At the high school level, 1 credit represents a subject involving 5 hours of lessons per week for 1 school year (approx. 36 weeks). Sometimes 5 credits are awarded for the same number of hours. For example, if a student takes physics for 5 hours per week over 36 weeks, at the end of the school year he/she will be awarded either 1 or 5 credits, depending on the system used.

In higher education, each credit represents approximately 1 hour in the classroom and 2 hours of preparation.

It is important to know whether an institution uses a semester calendar (15-16 weeks) or a quarter calendar (10-12 weeks), as it will affect the study load. This is usually made clear on the transcript, and otherwise in the transcript explanation. A semester year is divided into fall and spring, and a quarter year into fall, winter and spring. Both calendars contain an optional summer semester/quarter.

1 semester credit = 1 contact hour per week for a period of 15-16 weeks;

Usually 120 semester credits are required for a bachelor’s degree (30 per year).

1 quarter credit = 1 contact hour per week for a period of 10-12 weeks;

180 quarter credits are required for a bachelor’s degree (45 per year).

Practical instruction (laboratory work / internship) is quantified differently than more theoretical classes: 1 credit is given for 2-3 hours of practical instruction.

NB: The same credit system is used at both undergraduate and graduate level. Because significantly more is asked of graduate students within the same time period, 30 semester credits / 45 quarter credits obtained at graduate level are comparable to 1½ years of study.