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US Educating System

Q:  Provide a brief description of the United States higher education system.

In the United States, students begin higher education after completing high school (twelfth grade); students go on to college or university.  Institutions of higher education include two-year colleges (known as community or junior colleges), four-year colleges, universities, institutes of technology, vocational and technical schools, and professional schools such as law and medical schools.

Study at a college or university leading to the Bachelor`s Degree is known as "undergraduate" education. Study beyond the Bachelor`s Degree is known as "graduate" school, or "postgraduate" education. Advanced or graduate degrees include law, medicine, the M.B.A., and the Ph.D. (doctorate).

Undergraduate programs (Bachelor degree):

This is the first level of post-secondary education that begins after 12 years of primary and secondary schooling.  It includes at least 4 years of education and earns a bachelorís degree.  There are also two-year programs, which earn an Associate degree. A student who has an associate degree has to study further for a minimum of 2 years to earn a bachelorís degree.  In undergraduate programs, students must take minimum of 12 credit hours to be considered full timeIf they take less then 12 credit hours when they are in F1 visa then they will be out of status, which means they are illegal.

Graduate Programs (Masterís & Doctorate degree):

This is the same as post-graduate education in Nepal.  It usually involves one year or more of education depending on the subject or course, and earns a masterís or doctoral degree like MBA, MS or PhD.  Admission to a graduate program usually requires a minimum of 16 years of formal education. That is, 12 years of primary and secondary schooling and further 4 years of college education.   In graduate programs, students need to take 9 credit hours to be considered full time.

Two-Year College

A two-year college admits high school graduates and awards an Associate`s Degree. Some two-year colleges are state-supported, or public; others are private. Two-year college or "junior" college graduates usually transfer to four-year colleges or universities, where they complete the Bachelor`s Degree in two or more additional years.

Community College

Community colleges or junior colleges are undergraduate institutions offering up to two years of academic instruction beyond secondary school at a relatively low cost and are funded by a state government. Community Colleges serve a local community, usually a city or a county, and meet the educational and vocational needs of local communities. These offer certificate programs that last for a few months to a year as well as associate degrees.

They offer Associate degrees that usually require 2 years of study and Certificate programs that usually require one year of study. Many students transfer with their Associateís degree to a Bachelorís degree program at a University. The benefits of attending a Community college are lower cost and easier admission. Often community colleges welcome international students and classes are often small and less competitive than at larger state universities. Some community colleges provide housing and advising services that an international student might need. 


Universities are academic institutions that include one or more undergraduate colleges, as well as any number of graduate and professional schools, i.e. schools offering study for a single profession such as law.

A state school is supported and run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 U.S. states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges. Some state schools have the word "State" in their names.

Private colleges and university are operated privately, not by a branch of the government. Tuition will usually be higher than state schools. Often, private colleges and universities are smaller in size than state schools.

Both state and private schools offer four year Bachelorís degree. However, usually only universities offer postgraduate degrees such as Masterís or Doctoral degrees. In addition, universities are sometimes divided into separate units called "colleges", for example the "College of Arts and Sciences".

Institutes of technology or polytechnic institutes offer specialized programs in sciences and engineering, in addition to basic sciences, humanities and the social sciences, at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Q:  Define Semester?

Fall semester starts from end of August to December and spring semester starts from January to May.

Q:  Are Nepali certificates easily accepted in the US?

Normally, Nepali certificates are widely accepted in the US, however it is up to the school to approve class credit transfers from Nepali universities.


Application Process for US colleges and Universities

Q:  What are some of the typical US College or University admission requirements?

For Admissions purposes, international students must meet academic, language and financial requirements as set by the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

International students applying for undergraduate admission to any Universities in America can apply for admission using a paper application or electronic application on the World Wide Web.

International applicants applying for admissions who choose to apply to an American universities using a paper application for admission should contact the university directly to which they plan to apply and request an application packet be sent. Be sure to indicate your intended semester of entry in all communication. The packet will include the appropriate application form(s), materials and instructions.

Most of the institutions require an application fee of $35- $120 (U.S. dollars) depending on the level of education.  The application fee must be included with each application submitted. Some institutions also require an additional processing fee for international students. This additional fee is required to cover the costs involved with the processing and evaluation of an international student application. All fees should be paid in U.S. currency and drawn on a bank draft or international money order, payable to the University that student intend to apply. All fees are subject to change.

Application Deadlines and Priority Dates

The best advice for an international student interested in applying to an American Universities is to begin the application process early.  Allow plenty of time for submission of all required forms and credentials.  Many campuses have application for admission deadlines, priority dates or recommended application dates. Be aware of the time needed to process all necessary documents, send and receive overseas mail, obtain a passport and visa, make travel arrangements, take care of all details for your departure and arrive on campus at the appropriate time for beginning your studies.


International applicants are required to submit official academic records and certificates for secondary and post-secondary education. These records include, but may not be limited to, the General Certificate of Education (in countries where this national testing program is used), a certificate of completion from the secondary school attended, an official academic record from any secondary school attended, school leaving records, national or other major examination results and/or diplomas earned. International students who have attended a college or university, inside or outside of the United States, are required to submit an official record of their work from each institution attended.

International student records should be submitted in English translation. All records must be official; notarized copies will not be accepted. All records should be sent directly from the institution to the University the student is applying.

Test Scores

A critical part of the admission decision for an international student is the evaluation of the applicantís English language proficiency. All American institutions require international students verify English proficiency. The most often used and accepted exam is the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  International student applicants should make timely arrangements to take this exam, which is administered throughout the world by the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

The TOEFL is administered at testing centers throughout the world using both paper-based testing and computer-based testing. Minimum TOEFL score requirements vary from one University to the other. Score requirements may also vary from one-degree program to another within an individual institution.

International student applicants should request official results of the TOEFL be sent directly from the Educational Testing Service to the institution(s) to which the student is applying. Some Universities may require the results of standardized tests (like the ACT, SAT I and/or SAT II) in addition to an English language proficiency test. Testing requirements for international students will be identified in an information packet from an individual campus.

Financial Certification

International students are required to finance their own education and living expenses while attending school in the United States. Only a few Universities offer scholarship money for international students; most do not. As a part of the application process, international students are required to declare and verify the necessary funding. Individual Universities will provide detailed information on how an international student applicant must meet this requirement and the estimated funding necessary for annual costs. Estimated expenses usually include tuition and fees, housing, health insurance, books, supplies and personal expenses.

Graduate Application

For graduate application, you are required to collect all the materials for admission and submit them at one time to the Graduate School. These complete applications are then reviewed by the Graduate School and prepared for screening by the appropriate academic department. Departments may require additional materials or procedures in addition to the Graduate School requirements listed below. It is your responsibility to contact the department or division offering the degree program to which you are seeking admission to determine the additional materials or procedures required.



 Once a school accepts you for admission, they will issue a Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility) for Non-immigrant F-1 Student Status with the admission packet.  This admission packet includes the I-20 form that you will take to the embassy or consulate to apply for a visa. Instructions for obtaining a visa and other information needed to help you prepare for departure will be sent with your admission packet.  Your form I-20 will tell you the estimated cost of one yearís study at the school. Proof of sufficient resources can come from your own funds or those of close family members. 

An applicant may apply for a student Visa not earlier than 90 days before the registration date specified on the I-20.  If the registration date is already passed or the applicant cannot reasonably expect to arrive at the school by the registration date, the applicant should obtain an amended I-20 or a letter of extension from the issuing institution stating by what date the applicant may arrive.

There are mainly two types of student visas:

F-1 (Student Visa). The F-1 visa is for full-time students enrolled in an academic or language program. F-1 students may stay in the US for the full length of their academic program plus 60 days. F-1 students must maintain a full-time course load and complete their studies by the expiration date listed on the I-20 form.

J-1 (Exchange Visitor Visa). The J-1 visa is issued for students needing practical training that is not available in their home country to complete their academic program. The training must be directly related to the academic program. The J-1 visa obligates the student to return to their home country for a minimum of two years after the end of their studies in the US before being eligible to apply for an immigrant (permanent residence) visa.

Spouse and dependent children can get the F-2 status. They can apply with the student or at a later time. If your family members apply for F-2 status at a later date, they will need their own form I-20. They will also have to show the INS substantial financial resources, as they will not be allowed to work in F-2 Status.

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