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Learn about graduate school in the United States.

Graduate School in the United States

March 11, 2013

The United States offers a wide variety of options for students who want to pursue college or university education at an advanced (i.e., graduate) level.

What is the difference between graduate and undergraduate school?

An F student may enroll in an undergraduate program to earn an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. When enrolled in graduate school, a student earns a master’s and/or doctorate degree. According to EducationUSA, graduate school has an increased amount of training, specialization and instruction when compared to an undergraduate program. Graduate students typically engage in “more self-directed” learning and graduate programs typically include both research and coursework.

Types of Graduate Degrees

A master’s degree offers students further training in specialized fields. There are two types of master’s degrees that a student can earn: academic or professional. Master of Arts or Master of Science degrees are for students in academic programs. Students typically earn these degrees in fields like “traditional arts, sciences, and humanities disciplines,” as well as more technical disciplines, including science, technology, engineering and math.

Schools may offer a professional master’s degree for students who want to begin a career in a specific field. Examples of this include a Master of Business Administration or a Master of Fine Arts. These programs are usually seen as terminal, or not leading to a doctoral program.

Another type of graduate degree a student can earn is a doctorate degree. Someone with this degree has “demonstrated capacity as a trained research scholar in a specific discipline.” These programs include “coursework, seminars, and the writing of a dissertation that describes the student's own original research, completed under the supervision of a faculty adviser.”

Remember that each program is different, so you should do your research to make sure the one you select matches your interests and goals.

How do I apply to a U.S. graduate school?

Students must apply for and receive acceptance into a U.S. graduate school. Be sure to follow the proper steps during the application process. Some schools require students to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) as a part of the application. If you want to attend a U.S. graduate school as an F student, find a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school you want to attend and talk to a designated school official.

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