A small collection of US FAQs

The term ‘Degree’ refers to the level of education that you have completed or wish to pursue in your academic career.  One can pursue a Bachelor’s or an Associate or a Master’s or a Ph.D. degree.
A degree is a recognized qualification.  A diploma on the other hand is not recognized and is generally awarded to students who major in a technical or vocational field.  Most students find the need to return back to college and secure a degree as the diploma is often an inadequate qualification for some of the best jobs.  In the United States an associate degree is equivalent to a diploma.
You could apply immediately for High School, where you can complete your 11th and 12th grades which is referred to as the junior and senior years.  Your other option is to complete your twelfth grade and then apply directly for a Bachelor’s degree
In United Sates the High school program begins with the 9th grade and ends with the 12th grade – a total of 4 years.  A Bachelor’s degree in America is a four-year degree.  A Masters degree ranges from one and a half to two-years. The Ph.D. program generally varies from a period of 3 to 8 years.
Generally, a student must apply and complete one degree at a time. Some Universities do have provisions for students to complete two degrees at the same time.  For example the Engineering Management program allows the student to complete both the Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in a 5-year program at the same University rather than in the actual six years that it would otherwise take. However, very few colleges offer this possibility.
The credit system, until recently has been unique to the US education system.  It is devised to give ‘points’ for lectures attended.  For instance, if a student takes one paper in Economics that is worth three credits, it means that she will attend lectures in Economics three hours a week for the whole semester.  The three hours maybe divided into three lectures, two lectures, or one three-hour seminar session.  Credits eventually are added and must meet the minimum of 30 credit hours per academic year. Hence in a bachelor’s degree a student has to achieve 120 credits. If each subject/paper is equal to 3 credits then the student would have to do 40 papers in 4 years! Different courses have different credit hours ranging from one, two or three credits
Students must complete 30 credit hours per academic year.  A bachelor’s degree is equivalent to 120 credit hours while a Master’s program is equivalent to 60 credit hours.
The United States offers a four-year program at the undergraduate level.  At this stage you can either opt to pursue a Master’s degree or transfer into the Bachelor’s degree. To be eligible for the Master’s degree you must complete the Master’s degree – part 1.  A few majors might require you to complete both Part 1 and 2 of the Master’s course to be eligible to apply for a Master’s degree. Another option that you might consider is to apply as a transfer student into the undergraduate program.
If you were unable to go to the US soon after the 12th grade, you still have an option.  If you are currently in a Bachelor’s degree program here, and have completed a year or two, then you have the option to apply to a University abroad and transfer into the second (sophomore) or third (junior) year of college at a particular University depending on your transfer of credits.
The transfer of your credits will largely depend on the overlap in the curriculum of your current University and the one you have applied to.  Hence if you have completed the pre – requisite courses here in India you will not need to do them again.
You will need to submit your official mark sheet and transcripts for any undergraduate degree coursework that you have already completed.  In order to further facilitate the process you will also need to submit an attested copy of your syllabus.
Depending on the course that you are applying for, and the University’s recognition of the subjects completed by you, you will be given a transfer of credits.  Normally 30 credits equal to one year of education in the US.
Some colleges or Universities do not evaluate the credits of students.  They may direct you to an agency that specializes in the evaluation of credits.  These agencies will evaluate your documents (official mark sheet, transcripts and attested copy of syllabus) for a fee.  They will then send a written report on the number of credits that you have earned and which are transferable.  Some of the evaluation agencies are the World Education Services (WES) and the Education Credential Evaluation (ECE).
If you change majors after admissions your transferable course credit should remain fairly intact.  However, because you may need extra or different preparation for a new major, some of the courses you have taken may now be useful only as an elective.
As a student you are required to complete 30 credit hours in an academic year.  You could choose to major in the field of Computer Science.  This is the subject in which you take core courses.  Apart from your core courses you are allowed to take electives in any other subject of your choice, which may or may not be related to your major – for example creative writing or philosophy or business studies.  These electives form your minor subject.
The term dual refers to ‘two’.  Hence a dual major means pursuing two majors at a time.  Students have the option of pursuing a dual major.  In India students may decide to do a Sociology – Economic double major or a Biochemistry – Life Sciences double major.  Similarly in the United States you can pursue a double major.  A dual major is when you pursue a degree, which requires you to take classes from 2 different departments.
Choosing a program of study in which you wish to major in after high school is a difficult choice.  The simplest method is to choose the subject that interests you the most and co-relate it with the job prospects after graduation.  Once you are enrolled in college, you will learn about fields that you have never studied about in high school as well as discover ones that you have already been exposed to.
If one is unsure about which field one would like to study and ultimately pursue as a career or about the type of program you would like to take it is wise to enroll at a college that has a variety of courses.  On the other hand if you are sure of your major or basic area of study that you plan to pursue at college it is important that you select an institution that provides a strong foundation in that program.
There are wide ranges of courses that you can choose from.  You could pursue a major in Music or Film or a degree in Physics or Engineering.