Types of Learning Institutions

Types of Learning Institutions


Individuals whose primary language is not English prepare for study at U.S. colleges. Courses in conversation, advanced listening and speaking, pronunciation, reading, writing, and grammar are offered at two types of Intensive English Programs: privately-owned and school-owned.

Privately-owned English programs may either be located on or off college/ university campuses. Privately-owned Intensive English Programs offer several program choices, including academic preparation programs for college-bound students. These programs also offer housing placement and weekly activities. School-owned Intensive English Programs are primarily designed to prepare students for certificate and degree programs. They may offer students the opportunity to attend academic classes concurrently or receive college credit for their high level classes. Many academically-qualified students can get “Conditional Admission” to colleges and universities before they reach the necessary English level.

There are literally hundreds of schools throughout the United States that provides these programs. Contact one of our USIEC advisors for further information. Contact one of our USIEC advisors for further information.

2-Year Community College AA degrees

Associate Degrees

Degree granted by a college or university after the satisfactory completion of a two year full time program of study or its part time equivalent. The associate of arts (A.A.) or associate of science (A.S.) degree is granted after students complete a program of study similar to the first two years of a four year college curriculum. The associate in applied science (A.A.S.) is awarded by many colleges on completion of technological or vocational programs of study. Associate degree programs may be “terminal” programs, which lead into specific careers upon graduation, or “transfer” programs, which correspond to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree and tend to be more liberal arts based. Under the latter option one could then transfer into the third year of a four-year bachelor’s degree program.

4-Year Undergraduate Bachelor degrees

Bachelors or Baccalaureate Degree

Degree received after the satisfactory completion of a four or five year full time program of study or its part time equivalent at a college or university. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) are the most common baccalaureates. There is no absolute difference between the degrees, and policies concerning their award very from college to college. International students cannot generally study part-time and must maintain full-time status during the academic year. One of the most attractive features of the bachelor’s degree program in the United States is that it is highly flexible. You can usually choose from a wide variety of courses and create your own unique program of study. The degree is awarded after you complete a specified number of credits. The first year of study is called the freshman year; the second is called sophomore; the third, junior; and the fourth, senior.

Graduate and Post Graduate Degrees

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is designed to provide additional education or training in the student’s specialized branch of knowledge, well beyond the level of baccalaureate study. Master’s degrees are offered in many different fields, and there are two main types of programs: academic and professional. A person who finishes graduate school in the U.S. earns an M.A., M.S. or Ph.D. degree (Master of Arts, Master of Science or Doctorate of Philosophy). The Ph.D. is the highest scientific degree in the U.S. This degree usually requires at least three years of study and a dissertation defense. M.A. or M.S. degrees are awarded after two years of graduate studies.

  • Academic Masters: The Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees are usually awarded in the traditional arts, sciences, and humanities disciplines. The M.S. is also awarded in technical fields such as engineering and agriculture. Original research, research methodology, and field investigation are emphasized.
  • Professional Masters: These degree programs are designed to lead the student from the first degree to a particular profession. Professional master’s degrees are most often “terminal” master’s programs, meaning that they do not lead to doctoral programs. Such master’s degrees are often designated by specific descriptive titles, such as master of business administration (M.B.A.), master of social work (M.S.W.), master of education (M.Ed.), or master of fine arts (M.F.A.). Other subjects of professional master’s programs include journalism, international relations, architecture, urban planning, public administration (M.P.A.), and public policy (M.P.P.).

Doctoral Degrees

A doctoral degree is designed to train research scholars and, in many cases, future college and university faculty members. Receipt of a doctoral degree certifies that the student has demonstrated capacity as a trained research scholar in a specific discipline.

At the doctoral level, the Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) is the most common degree awarded in academic disciplines. Other doctoral degrees are awarded primarily in professional fields, such as education (Ed.D. or Doctor of Education) and Business Administration (D.B.A. or Doctor of Business Administration). Doctoral programs involve advanced coursework, seminars, and the writing of a dissertation that describes the student’s own original research, completed under the supervision of a faculty adviser.

The Ph.D. degree is awarded to those students who complete an original piece of significant research, write a dissertation describing that research, and successfully defend their work before a panel of faculty members who specialize in the discipline. This may take an additional two to three years. To earn a Doctoral Degree it may take anywhere from five to eight years beyond the bachelor’s degree, depending on the field of study.

MBAs are traditionally two-year programs, though there are some one-year intensive programs. International students are allowed to work on campus up to 20 hours per week for the first year they are in the US. After the first year, international students can apply for permission to work off campus up to 20 hours per week if the work is directly related to their field of study, and must be approved by the international student office where the students are studying. Many international MBA students have full-time internships or jobs the summer following their first year.

Vocational Colleges

Today, vocational programs are a fairly large educational umbrella with a number of excellent study and career options, from traditional trades to those that are far more modern It has also become a significant entry point for those whose ultimate goal is a bachelor’s degree.

Some of the more common vocational degree programs include:

  • Accounting and Bookkeeping
  • Computing and Information Technology
  • Criminal Justice
  • Early Childhood Education
  • Electronics
  • Graphic Design
  • Health Science
  • Interior Design
  • Nursing
  • Web Development and Design

Largely, vocational degree programs focus on a prescribed course of study for a specific trade or career. For example, a chef-in-training takes courses in cooking methods, baking and pastry arts, food sanitation, and nutrition. Certification and degree programs also expose students to the business side of culinary arts–from bookkeeping to inventory to marketing.

Vocational programs that result in a certificate or diploma are generally shorter, lasting several months to a year, and are more focused on training specific job skills. Longer programs, from a year to three years, often result in an associate’s degree. In addition to hands-on career training courses, they can include courses similar to what you might find in a four-year liberal arts program, such as writing, college math, and basic computing skills. These courses help to ensure students in vocational programs are prepared to enter today’s workforce. It is important to note that vocational education also includes bachelor’s and master’s degree programs as well.

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