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Education in the USA / California Education Group California Education Group

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Types of Educational Institutions

 

College: 1) A type of institution of higher education. The distinction between a college and a university is not sharply defined; however in general a college tends to be smaller and offer fewer fields of study than a university, and awards few or no graduate degrees. 2) Within a university, a curricular subdivision that groups related disciplines such as a College of Arts and Sciences, a College of Business, or a College of Engineering. 3) In some Anglophone countries, and with somewhat increasing frequency in the U.S., a student housing and social unit. 4) In some large universities, the undergraduate divisions of subject areas.

Community College: A two-year, public institution of higher education. Community colleges are designed to offer the first two years of a four-year college degree, as well as terminal two-year associate’s degrees. Four-year institutions typically accept community college credits for transfer. Many community colleges also offer associates degrees or vocational certificates in technical fields. Some community colleges are now offering four-year bachelor’s degrees. Formerly referred to as a Junior College, a term now used only for private two-year institutions.

Degree-Granting Institution: Postsecondary educational institutions that award accredited associate’s, baccalaureate, or graduate degrees.

Liberal Arts College: A college whose curriculum consists mostly or entirely of courses and degree programs in the natural sciences, social and behavioral sciences, humanities, and fine and performing arts. Although the majority of liberal arts colleges in the U.S. are private, they may be public as well.

Postsecondary Education (or Tertiary Education): Education beyond the high school level.

Private Institution: An institution run by a nonprofit organization or a for-profit corporation. In the U.S. a private institution may be secular or may be associated, to varying degrees, with a religious organization.

University: A type of institution of higher education that typically offers a varied curriculum, including one or more professional fields and at least some graduate degrees.

Vocational/Technical Education: A subcategory of postsecondary education focused on preparation for a specific occupation or trade and not leading to an academic degree. Examples include beauty schools, electronics schools, or secretarial schools. Credits earned at vocational or technical institutions are typically not accepted for transfer by institutions of higher education.

Degrees and Educational Levels

Certificate: A non-degree recognition that a student has completed a prescribed program or set of requirements.

Associate’s Degree: A degree granted for successfully completing at least two years of undergraduate study in a prescribed academic program. Associate’s degrees are awarded by community, technical, and tribal colleges and by some programs in four-year institutions.

Bachelor’s Degree (or Baccalaureate Degree): A degree awarded for completion of a prescribed academic program (generally four years or longer) of college or university study. In some academic fields at some institutions completion of the degree may require five years. In a number of other countries the counterpart undergraduate degree is based on three years of postsecondary study. (Typically in such countries, however, students must complete thirteen years of primary and secondary education before entering the university, as opposed to twelve in the U.S.) The two most common baccalaureate degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.). The former typically requires more breadth of course work and the latter more specialization.

Professional Degree: A post-baccalaureate degree in a field such as medicine, business, law, the fine and performing arts.

Master’s Degree: A graduate degree designed to require one to two years of full-time (or equivalent) post-baccalaureate study. The M.A. (Master of Arts) is granted in the largest number of disciplines; different fields of study have their own degree designations, such as M.Ed. (Master of Education); M.S. (Master of Science); M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) or M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration).

Doctoral Degree (or Doctorate): The highest level of graduate degree granted in certain academic fields in U.S. higher education. Typically requires four to six years or more of post-baccalaureate study with a dissertation as a capstone. The most common doctorate, called the «Doctor of Philosophy» (Ph.D.), is awarded in a large number of disciplines, not exclusively philosophy. Several fields of study, such as Doctor of Medicine (M.D.); Doctor of Law (Juris Doctorate or LL.D.); and Education (Ed.D) have their own doctoral degree designations.

Postgraduate Education: Education beyond the terminal degree (for example, Ph.D., J.D., or M.D.). Although this is the most common definition in the U.S., in some other systems (for example, British) the term means education beyond the undergraduate degree.

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