University System and Degrees


Public Institution

Public Institutions are funded by states and territories (city or county) and usually offer lower tuitions as compared to Private Institutions. Each state in the US has at least one Public Institution. Tuition for in-state students (students who have residential status in the state) is significantly lower than that for out-of-state students. Departments within a Public Institution may receive private funding to further their research or academic interests. There are also several scholarships that are funded through private endowments.

Private Institution

Private Institutions are primarily funded through private sources and are usually more expensive than Public Institutions. Some Private Institutions may have a religious affiliation. It is not uncommon that certain research projects or departments within a Private Institution get funding from state or national governments. The likelihood of financial support at Private Institutions is generally higher than at Public Institutions.

Community College

Community colleges are generally 2-year publicly funded institutions that offer academic, vocational and/or professional education. Qualifications granted are usually Diplomas, Certificates or Associate Degrees. The programs may also be termed as Continuing Education programs. Cost of education at a Community College is usually lower than that at a 4-year institution. Several Community Colleges have tie-ups with the local Public Institutions, such that the Community College provides the first two years of undergraduate level education followed by the 4-year institution providing the next two.

Degrees in USA

  • Associate Degree: An associate degree is an undergraduate degree that can be earned in approximately 2 years. An associate degree program consists of three parts: major requirements, general education requirements and electives. The two types of associate degrees offered are the associate of arts degree (A.A.) and the associate of applied science degree (A.A.S.). The tuition for associate degree programs is typically much less than a four-year program. Considering this, many students choose to attend a two-year college and enroll in one of the many associate degree programs as a way of lowering the cost of getting a college degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree: Baccalaureate degrees are four-year degrees awarded by colleges or universities. This undergraduate degree allows students to select both a major which is the area of study, and a minor which is the more specific area of concentration. In most cases, the bachelor degree must be completed before embarking on a master's or doctoral degree. There are two primary bachelor's degree qualification types:
      • Bachelor of Arts (BA) - This type of degree type usually requires a majority of coursework be taken in the arts; areas such as social science, humanities, music or fine arts.
      • Bachelor of Science (BS) - This type of degree usually requires a majority of coursework be taken in the sciences; areas such as life sciences, physical sciences, or mathematical sciences
  • Master's Degree: A Master's degree, unlike an associate and bachelor's degree, is a graduate degree that requires specialized knowledge and study focused in one area. Generally, the number of credits required to complete a master's degree is usually between 30 and 60 hours. This usually requires 1 to 2 years to complete if attending classes full-time. If attending classes on a part time basis, master's degrees can take several years. There are two main types of master's degree, the MA (Master of Arts) and the MS (Master of Science):
      • Master of Arts - A post-baccalaureate degree awarded upon completion of 30 semester hours of graduate credit, usually in the social sciences.
      • Master of Science - A post-baccalaureate degree awarded upon completion of 30 semester hours of graduate credit, usually in the sciences or professions.
  • Doctorate Degree: A doctorate degree provides the highest level of education possible. Generally, the steps which are necessary to receive a doctorate include the successful completion of both a bachelor's and master's degree. The doctorate degree implies expertise within a field and traditionally takes between 3-6 years to complete. ┬áThe two primary types of doctoral degrees are research doctorates and professional doctorates.
      • Research doctorates are -typically awarded in recognition of peer-reviewed academic research that is of a publishable standard.
      • Professional doctoral degrees are -awarded in fields such as medicine (MD) and law (JD) where candidates focus on qualifying for professional licensure rather than on research.

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