US Education System
Grade 1 – Elementary School
Grade 2 – Elementary School
Grade 3 – Elementary School
Grade 4 – Elementary School
Grade 5 – Elementary School
|Grade 6 – Middle School
Grade 7 – Middle School
Grade 8 – Middle School
Grade 9 – High School
Grade 10 – High School
Grade 11 – High School
Grade 12 – High School
High School Diploma
College (4 year program)
|Freshman – Community College
Sophomore – Community College
|2 year certificate “Associates Degree” (Bachelor´s Degree)|
|Graduate/ Postgraduate||22 on||Master´s Program (1 or 2 years) Ph.D. programs Postdoctoral programs research||Master´s Degree Doctorate (Ph.D.)|
No national education system or national curriculum exists in the United States. The federal government does not operate schools.
Each of the 50 states has its own Department of Education, which sets guidelines for the schools of that state. Public colleges and universities receive funding from the state in which they are located. Each state’s legislature decides how many tax dollars will be given to colleges and universities and from where this money will come. For this reason some states’ colleges and universities are much better funded than others’.
Most of the control of American schools lies in the hands of each local school district. The school board, a small committee of people elected by the local community, sets general policies for each school district. Students in public schools do not pay tuition in grades 1-12.
Generally, school districts include elementary schools, middle schools, and high schools. Elementary schools are for students in kindergarten and 1st through 5th or 6th grades. Many children enter kindergarten when they are five years old. Children usually begin first grade at the age of six.
After elementary school, students continue on to middle school for grades 6-8(9). Following middle school, students enter high school to complete grades 9(10)-12.
High school students take a wide range of courses. All students are required to take English, math, science, and social studies courses. They are also often times required to take a foreign language and/or physical education. In high school, courses can be either one or two semesters long.
In the United States, education is compulsory for all students until age 16. Usually, a student
graduates after he or she has successfully passed all of the required courses and met the minimum number of credits need for graduation. Grades are given to students for each course at the end of
every semester or term.
Grades are given as follows, with pluses (+) or minuses (-) added as necessary:
A – Excellent
B – Above average
C – Average
D – Below average
F – Failure
At most schools a student must receive a minimum grade of a C in order to receive credit for the course. A student who receives a D or F will be required to take the course again the following semester.
Each letter grade also corresponds to a number grade that will be used in determining a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). The student’s final GPA is the sum of his number grades divided by the sum of the number of credits taken. Most U.S. colleges and universities have a minimum GPA for acceptance into a degree program.
Number grades correspond to letter grades as follows:
As an undergraduate in the United States a student is expected to complete a series of general education classes as well as a major of his/her choosing. At most colleges and universities students will have until the end of their second year in attendance to declare their major. During the first two years students will generally complete their general studies and begin to form an idea as to which major they will work towards. During their third and fourth years of study most classes will be for major credit. Students who choose to study abroad, who now represent a growing proportion of the student body, will generally do so during their third year or during the first semester of their fourth year.
While general education classes will often times be large, up to 500 students in some of the larger state universities, the classes for your major will generally be smaller (ranging in size from 15 to 40 students). In the smaller classes participation will generally contribute to 10% of a student’s final
grade and will be expected of all students. Independent and critical thinking are highly valued and will be expected on top of simple rote memory of facts and themes.
During the semester a students grades are generally evaluated based on a midterm, a final, class participation, and one or more essays or research projects.
Being a graduate student in America is very different from being an undergraduate student. The work and study demands are significantly greater. While graduate students generally take fewer classes each semester, the workload for each class and the level of excellence expected is generally much more higher. Relationships with fellow students and faculty members, particularly the faculty adviser, are likely to be more closer.
Graduate school curricula typically include not just classes but also seminars in which a small
number of students and their teacher meet for two or three hours once a week to explore certain topics in depth. Students are expected to take an active part in these seminars. It is not acceptable to sit and listen without offering your own ideas. In evaluating your seminar participation the instructor will be looking for indications that you have read assigned materials, have understood them not just in a
word-for-word way but in concept, and have thought about the material on your own. Beyond simple comprehension the professors will also expect you to have formed your own independent, critical
ideas in relation to the topic or theme of the day. In some seminars students are assigned to take complete charge of a particular week’s meeting. They might have to prepare a lecture, give a comprehensive report on research they are doing, and/or lead the week’s discussion among seminar participants.
Comprehensive exams (or “comps”, as they are typically called) occur at or near the time students
have completed all the coursework required for the Master’s degree or the Ph.D. Written comprehensive exams may take anywhere from 3 to 20 hours; they may be completed in one day or extended over several days. Usually they are followed by an oral exam. The purpose of the comps is to determine whether the student has mastered the basic literature in the field; has developed a theoretical framework for understanding issues in the field; has learned analytical, synthesizing, and problem-solving skills appropriate for advanced study in the field, and is likely to be able to succeed at the next level of graduate studies.