Degree Options in the USA

Undergraduate Study

Community or Junior College

Two-year undergraduate degrees in the USA can prepare you for a specific career, or the coursework can be applied to completion of a 4-year Bachelor's degree.

Degrees: Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS)

Transfer Process: As a student, you may apply to transfer to a four-year college or university. The four-year institution will review all credits to determine how many can be applied to the four year degree. Some community colleges have transfer agreements with in-state four-year institutions, where the community college provides the first two years of study and the four-year institution provides the remaining years of study.

Four-year University

Satisfies university and class requirements to achieve a bachelor’s degree in a specific course of study (major).

Bachelor's Degrees in the USA:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA), Bachelor of Social Work (BSW), Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.), Bachelor of Education (B.Ed.) or Bachelor of Philosophy (B.Phil.) Five-Year Professional Architecture programs offer the Bachelor of Architecture Degree (B.Arch.).

Admission Considerations:

  • Area of Study (Major)
  • Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Quality of Courses
  • Class Ranking
  • Personal Statement
  • Other Considerations (examples include participation in extracurricular activities, a personal essay, letters of recommendation, an interview or standardized test)

Graduate Study

Graduate study involves one to three years of additional study in a particular subject area after you complete a US bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from another country.

Master's Degrees in the USA: Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Education (MEd), Master of Fine Arts (MFA), Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Engineering (ME), Master of Laws (LLM), and Master of Public Administration (MPA).

Admission Considerations:

  • Area of Study (Major)
  • Grade Point Average (GPA)
  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Recommendation
  • Professional Experience
  • Standardized test scores (GMAT®, GRE®, or MATTM)

Doctoral Study

Typically following the completion of a master’s degree, you can undertake study for a doctoral degree, concentrating in a particular field of study.

Doctor's Degrees in the USA: Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Doctor of Arts (D.A.), Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Theology (D.Th.), Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD), Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.PT), Doctor of Jurisprudence (D.Jur.).

Admission Considerations:

  • Area of Study (Major)
  • Grade Point Average
  • Personal Statement
  • Professional Experience
  • Standardized test scores (GMAT®, GRE®, MCAT, LSAT, or MATTM)

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The Two Year-to-Four Year Transfer - A great option!

Why do students choose a community college or junior college first?

  1. Almost every four-year university also has a two-year college nearby. A two-year college is often called a community college or a junior college. You may earn an Associate’s degree and/or earn transfer credits toward the completion of a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university.
  2. Generally speaking, tuition costs at community or junior colleges are significantly more reasonable than at the four-year universities
  3. Classes are typically smaller at the community or junior college.
  4. For many academic programs, you will initially take a similar core curriculum, or set of courses, during your first two years of college. This is the case whether you attend a two-year college first, or if you go directly to a four-year university.
  5. The minimum required grade point average (GPA) and other admission requirements are lower at a community college than at most four-year universities. Community colleges sometimes have "open admission," meaning the only requirement for admission is graduation from secondary school.
  6. Many states have pre-determined transfer plans, or articulation agreements, between their two-year and four-year institutions. At the community college, the academic advisors will recommend a course work plan, based on your academic program. These plans are designed not only to meet the college’s associate degree graduation requirements, but also to make sure that the maximum number of credits taken is transferable to the four-year university.
  7. The GPA that is required by universities when considering a transfer applicant is very often lower than that of a freshman applicant. For those students with a lower GPA from secondary school, successful study at a community college allows them a second chance of being admitted to a university.

What are the academic requirements for transfer to a four-year university?

Academic requirements for a student’s successful transfer will vary with each four-year university. As a student, you would meet with academic advisors and target the transfer requirements of your four-year university of choice. If you have completed a pre-specified number of credits at a community college (usually 30 credit hours, or ten 3-credit classes) and achieved a minimum grade point average (usually between 2.0/4.0 and 2.5/4.0, depending on the four-year university’s requirements), you will be considered by the four-year university for admission as a transfer student. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended MUST be submitted when applying for admission to a university.

What transfer plans are available?

The transfer arrangements between institutions vary. There are state-wide agreements that provide specific courses of study and simplify the university transfer process. There are also specific agreements arranged between institutions in the same community or area of academic expertise. You must work closely with the community college academic advisors to insure that you complete those courses that will result in the greatest number of transferable credits.

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