Understanding the American Education System
American education system

Transitioning to a different education system can be a daunting task. For the students preparing to gain admission in US colleges and universities, it can be a big help to learn about the American education system before they begin their studies.

Here are some concepts in the American academic system that prospective international students should become familiar with:


At US colleges and universities, grades are allotted on a universal letter system of A through F.

A student’s cumulative grade is indicated as a grade-point average, or GPA, which is measured on a scale from 0.0 (F) to 4.0(A).

Majors, minors and concentrations

A major feature of the American education system is that universities emphasize breadth, that means students are given a wide range of courses to choose from and they have a two year time period to choose a major or a double-major, a minor or concentration.

A ‘major’ is a primary focus of study and a ‘minor’ is a secondary focus of study.

A ‘concentration’ refers to a subject or study within a specific major.

Assignments, midterms, and finals

Prospective international students should be prepared for continuous assessment at US universities as well as regular homework, such as reading and writing assignments.

International students should be aware that courses typically include discussions, class participation and oral presentations, as well as midterm and final exams that make up only a percentage of a student’s grade.

Extra credit

In American education system, some university professors may offer extra credit during class; here the students can participate in extra lectures, write papers, or take quizzes and other options to improve their overall grade.