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Studying in the U.S.

Making the decision to study abroad involves considerable research. You must consider your finances, your academic record, your immigration status, and much more before committing to a university.

The U.S. education system is much different than most other countries. Take your time and learn what to expect. The Office of International Studies and Programs assists new international students with the adjustment to Illinois State.

Levels of Learning

American students typically complete 13 years of school (including four years of high school) before going to college or university.

  • Elementary school : Also known as primary school or grade school. This is the beginning of American education. Typically, elementary school is kindergarten (age 5) through 5th or 6th grade.
  • Middle School: Also known as junior high school. Typically, middle school is grades 5-8.
  • High School: Grades 9-12. In high school, students take general academic courses which typically include college preparatory coursework.

American universities follow this model of post-secondary education.

Type of Degree Length of time Requirements Semester Hours Degrees Offered
Bachelor's Four years General education coursework and courses within chosen discipline 120
  • Bachelor of Art (B.A.)
  • Bachelor of Fine Art (B.F.A.)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)
Master's Two years Coursework within chosen discipline and thesis or comprehensive examination 32-40
  • Master of Arts (M.A.)
  • Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.)
  • Master of Science (M.S.)
  • Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.)
  • Master of Music in Education (M.M.Ed.)
  • Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.)
  • Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)
  • Master of Professional Accountancy (M.P.A.)
Doctoral Three+ years Coursework within chosen discipline, examination, original research, dissertation 75-100
  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
  • Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)
  • Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

Grading System

In your courses, you will get a letter grade based on your performance. Tests, homework, class participation, research papers, and more contribute to your final course grade. The letters correspond to a number on the four-point Grade Point Average (GPA) scale. Your cumulative GPA is an average of all of the grades you earned, weighted by the number of credit hours earned.

  Letter Grade Grade Point
Excellent A 4.0
Above Average B 3.0
Average C 2.0
Poor D 1.0
Failure F 0

Academic Calendar

The University academic calendar consists of two semesters and a summer session each year. The fall semester goes from August through December. This is the beginning of the traditional American school year, the ideal time for new students to come to campus. That way, you can adjust to campus along with all of the other new students.

There is a four-week break before the spring semester starts in January. The spring semester lasts until May. During the summer, optional summer session courses are held. These courses meet more frequently than normal courses because they are completed in half the time.

View our current academic calendar.

2017-09-25T13:52:51.868-05:00 2017