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Education systems in the USA

The United State is a premier centre of excellence when it comes to education. From its lowest levels to the Universities, education in the US is highly regarded as one of the very best. For very long the US education system reigned supreme as the number one in the global rankings, and even at present where it is ranked  6th it’s not as a result of deterioration of the system rather by the improvement of other smaller nations with light workloads like Singapore.

The US is staunchly committed to investing in its education system that is why the country is the biggest spender per capita on education in the whole world. The United States is perhaps the most prestigious place to gain a certificate and this is because of the consistent levels of excellence it has maintained till date, which in turn is why it remains the number one destination choice for international students.


The US Education system structure is made to reflect its federal governing political structure, where the Federal Government sets general rules for the system while states take a hands-on approach and crafting up a system that suits them best

Due to the Federal Government’s limited power in the Education sector, the US education system has no Uniform curriculum across all 50 states. As every state has the authority to develop its own curriculum according to how it sees what will suit its local population. The Federal Department of Education, however, sets up general guidelines and rules of standards that must be maintained and also provides some funding directly to the states themselves.

Types of Schools

  • Public Schools: There are two major types of schools in the US according to the way they are run. The first being Public Schools which are largely funded and maintained by the States and Local Governments. These schools tend to cater for a larger number of students per class and their curriculum is directly dictated by the state. Public schools generally admit students based on the area of their residency and are also obligated to provide for the education needs of children with special needs or disabilities. All public schools are free for all eligible students.
  • Private Schools: These are privately owned, funded and run schools that charge the children’s parents tuition fees for their study. Private schools tend to have a leaner population and a much conducive learning environment when compared to public schools. The Private schools are at complete liberty to design their own curriculums as they see fit while staying within general rules and guidelines. Admission into private schools is not all about being able to pay the fees, as schools can be highly selective in picking.

Levels of Pre-University Schooling

The US has three general levels of education in the life of a child as they grow up. As a general rule child between the ages of 6 and 16 must attend schools, with certain states extending the rule to the age of 18. The main levels of a child’s school life are as follows:

  • Elementary Schools: The elementary schooling years of a child typically consists of the years spent between kindergarten and the first five grades of Primary school. Most Kindergarteners start at the tender age of 5, meaning they finish their elementary schooling by the age of 11. Schools begin their yearly session end of August and although the actual curriculum is determined by the type of school and the state it resides, students are generally taught arithmetic, grammar and spelling and a host of other basic subjects
  • Middle Schools: This is the transition period between grades 6 and 8. It is when the student begins to get a few freedoms in choosing some classes they wish to attend and those they would rather not attend.
  • High Schools: This is the penultimate stage that precedes tertiary education which starts when the child enters the 9th grade and runs through the 12th and last grade. All students at this level are required to take on certain subjects like Mathematics, English, and Science Subjects. Other subjects such as Physical Education and Foreign language course vary from school to school regarding their importance.

Tertiary Education

All levels of higher education in the United States are completely voluntary as no student is obligated to enrol. They are also not free as in the case of public elementary and high schools, and as such, any student that wants to further their learning must source for funding in order to do so. Universities have a complex way of granting admissions to students as eligible high school leavers are judged according to their High School grade point, High School courses studied, SAT or ACT scores, Extracurricular and Sports activities and performance in an interview.

Once qualified the student has two main opening routes to take, which are to either begin with an Associate’s Degree or to go straight into a Bachelor’s degree program.  An Associate’s degree is a lesser qualification than the Bachelor’s Degree and it is also faster to conclude as it takes a maximum of 2 years to wrap up compared to the 4 years that are required for a Bachelor’s degree.

And in the case where the student eventually clinches their first degree they still have a further road to go down, as they can opt to go further yet again with Masters Degree and then succeeded by a Doctorate Degree to attain the peak qualification one can acquire in the US education system.  Master’s Degrees usually take all of two years from beginning to end while Doctoral Degrees can take as much as 7 years to finish with a minimum of 5 years being the quickest option. 

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