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Programs of Study

The United States offers an unparalleled variety of program options for F or M students. All programs of study F and M students attend must be certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). To find an SEVP-certified school or program, visit the Study in the States school search page. Below are examples of programs offered to eligible F or M students in the United States.

K-12 Schools

In the United States, students usually begin a formal educational program around age five or six in kindergarten. Children then complete grade levels one to 12 before attending college or university. There are two types of kindergarten through grade 12 (K-12) schools in the United States: public and private. Laws regarding ages for compulsory education vary by state. These laws apply to both public and private K-12 schools. To learn more about attending a K-12 school, visit the Kindergarten to Grade 12 page.

Community Colleges

Community colleges, sometimes called junior colleges, are two-year schools that can provide affordable postsecondary education as a pathway to a four-year degree. For more information about community colleges, visit our What is a Community College? blog post.


When researching programs of study in the United States, you will likely see opportunities referred to as STEM programs. STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. There are many Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified schools that offer undergraduate and graduate opportunities to study in STEM programs. To find out more about STEM, visit the What is STEM? blog post.

Undergraduate and Graduate Schools

An international 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. Remember that each program is different, so you should do your research to make sure the one you select matches your interests and goals. For more information about the difference between a undergraduate and graduate program, visit our Graduate School in the United States blog post.

English Language Training

English language training programs are for international students who want to pursue an English language training course of study. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) defines two types of English language training:

  • A “stand-alone” English language training program is an SEVP-certified institution whose officials have indicated on the school's Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student,” that the school offers only English language training programs of study.
  • A “combined” English language training program is an SEVP-certified institution whose officials have indicated on the school's Form I-17 that the school offers an English language training program of study, as well as other programs of study.

To learn more, please visit the English Language Training

Note: “English language training program” is the term used in 8 CFR 214. SEVP uses this term as synonymous with English as a second language (ESL), English speakers of other languages (ESOL), Intensive English Program (IEP), etc.

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