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THE EDUCATION SYSTEM IN THE USA

Concerning the age of entry to compulsory education in the U.S., it varies, according to the state, between five and seven years of age, six being the most common. The age of exit varies between sixteen and eighteen years of age, the most common being sixteen. The length of primary education varies from four to seven years. According to its length it is followed by a number of years of middle school education, generally three years. Secondary education occurs in grades seven twelve, depending upon the laws and policies of states and local school districts. There is no national structure, curriculum or governing law. All laws and policies are set and enforced by the fifty state governments and over 14.000 local school districts. All states and school districts have set the secondary school graduation level as the completion of twelfth grade, and the common name for the secondary graduation qualification is the High School Diploma.

Higher education in the U.S. is also called postsecondary education. It is not divided into different sectors: university, non-university, etc., as are some other national systems. It is a diverse and autonomous community of publicly and privately supported institutions. Current data indicate that there are some 2.819 institutions offering a Bachelor's or higher degree, 2.657 institutions offering at least an associate's degree but less than a bachelor's degree, and 4.927 institutions offering shorter non-degree programmes of less than two years duration.

The higher education system is characterized by accessibility, diversity, and autonomy and is known for both its size and quality. The federal government has no jurisdiction or authority over the recognition of educational institutions, members of the academic professions, programmes or curricula, or degrees or other qualifications. Nearly all U.S. postsecondary institutions are licensed, or chartered, by a state or municipal government to operate under the ownership of either a government, if public, or a private corporation, if independent.

The Associate Degree is the first academic or professional degree that can be awarded in U.S. postsecondary education. Holders of this Degree may apply to enter other first degree programmes, but are not qualified to apply directly for advanced studies programmes. Programmes of study for this degree are usually designed to take two years of full-time study, but some programmes take longer to complete. Associate Degree programmes generally fulfil two years of the course requirements needed for a Bachelor's degree. Credit for Associate Degree studies is usually transferable to Bachelor's degree programmes, especially where transfer agreements have been established between or among institutions.

The Bachelor's Degree is the second academic degree that can be awarded in U.S. postsecondary education, and is one of two such undergraduate degrees that qualify a student to apply to programmes of graduate study. Programmes of study for this degree are designed to take between four and five years of study, depending on the field of study and whether the degree is pursued on a full- or part-time basis. Honours programmes are offered by many institutions that award the Bachelor's degrees. These generally require the completion of additional requirements such as preparation of an undergraduate thesis, honours paper or project, advanced coursework, or special examinations.

The Master's Degree represents the second stage of higher education and is the first advanced degree awarded. U.S. Master's Degrees may be taught without thesis or research with thesis and may be awarded in academic or professional fields. Most Master's Degrees are designed to take two years of full-time study, although the time may vary depending upon the subject, the preparation achieved by the student at the undergraduate level, the structure of the programme, and whether the degree is pursued on a full- or part-time basis. Master's degrees generally require completion of a series of course requirements and may, depending on the type of Master's programme, require completion of a research thesis, special project, examinations in one or more subfields, satisfaction of special requirements, or a combination.

The Research Doctorate represents the third and highest stage of higher education in the United States and may be awarded in academic disciplines and some professional fields. This degree is not awarded by examination or coursework only, but requires demonstrated mastery of the chosen subject and the ability to conduct independent, original research. Doctoral programmes require intensive study and research in at least one subfield and professional level competence in several others. Following a series of research seminars and comprehensive examinations, the student must prove his or her capability in original research or independent practice through the preparation and defence of a published dissertation or project thesis and the passage of a battery of oral and written examinations before a committee of senior faculty, including both the examining committee and invited guests. Most doctoral degrees take at least four or five years of full-time study and research after the award of a Bachelor's degree or at least two to three years following a Master's degree.

The actual time to degree varies depending upon the subject and the structure of the programme. Research Doctorates are awarded in the academic disciplines and for theoretical research in some professional fields, with the most common such degree being that of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). There are a variety of equivalent degree titles used in some institutions and disciplines. The focus of professional doctoral studies is usually on applied rather than theoretical research, and there is a wide variety of degree titles in use.

 

VOCABULARY NOTES

educaton, n. ; below-cost educaton ; compulsory educaton ' ; engneerng educaton ; free educaton ; hgher educaton ; permanent educaton ; postsecondary educaton ( ); professonal/trade/vocatonal educaton .

currculum, n.syn. syllabus ; .

qualfcaton, n.syn dploma ; .

degree, n. ; ; academc degree ; an honours degree ; bachelor's/master's/doctor's degree //; college degree ; high degree ; honorary degree ; low degree ; to st/to study for a degree .

autonomy, n.syn. ndependence; ; admnstratve autonomy .

doctorate, n. .

research, n. ; - ; advertsng research ; basc research ; busness research ' ; consumer research ; jont research ; market research ; overseas market research ; research student ; research worker .

competence, n.syn. skll ; competence of arbtraton ; wth competence ; to be byond competence ; to be wthn/to come wthn/to fall under/to fall wthn competence .

dssertaton, n.syn. thess ; dssertaton for the degree of Ph. D. ; dssertaton on/upon mathematcs ; to defend a dssertaton .

dscplne, n.syn. subject .

VOCABULARY EXERCISES

 

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