How does the American university system work

Information on the topic: Studying in the USA

The US higher education system

In contrast to the German universities, the American universities are autonomous institutions that are very much shaped by competition from one another.

Universities in USA: companies

Private and public universities see themselves as independent companies and service providers and are paid by the students for lectures and seminars. They are not supervised by the state and decide completely independently in all matters, including the definition of study titles and course content. Therefore, when choosing a university, one must carefully examine the study program of the individual universities. However, the respective state decides which universities are allowed to award academic degrees. The assessment criterion is Accreditation.

Studying in the USA at elite universities

Everyone has heard of Harvard, Princeton or Yale: traditional private elite universities with very good facilities, renowned professors and a small number of students. However, studying at such a university also has its "high" price: At Harvard, a student has to pay $ 47,047 for the 2017 academic year for studies including accommodation and health insurance.

Studying in the USA at elite state universities

If you would like to study at a very good university in the USA, but you do not have the necessary financial support for the extremely high costs at the private elite universities, you can alternatively try at one of the state universities, some of which also have a very good have a good reputation for accommodation. You can find one here Overview of the best state universities in the USA.

Types of universities in the USA

There are different categories of public and private universities, but one must not rely on the name: there are universities that correspond to a college and institutes that correspond to a university. The different types of universities: Community Colleges, Colleges, Universities and Institutes.

Community colleges offer a two-year training course and convey predominantly professional knowledge. The training concludes with the acquisition of the "Associate Degree" in the academic branch, in the professional branch with a vocational training certificate. The "Associate Degree" is not recognized in Germany. However, the "Associate Degree" can be credited towards a four-year undergraduate course at universities or colleges.

Colleges offer a first professional qualification in around four years: the Bachelor's degree. In the first two years there is a broad general course (English, natural sciences, social sciences, as well as basic courses in the chosen subject area): "Lower Division". This is followed by the "Upper Division" with specialization in the department. This course is also known as "Undergraduate Studies".

Universities also offer undergraduate studies up to a bachelor's degree and also graduate studies up to a master's or doctoral degree.

Institutes are technical universities (e.g. Institute of Technology), departments (e.g. Institute of English) or advanced training courses (e.g. Summer Institute of English Education).


There are only 1,700 state-run state colleges and a large number of private colleges and universities. There are currently around 14 million students at American universities, 565,000 of whom are foreign students. Most attend a public university (11 million).

Scholarships for the USA

You should think about financing your studies in the USA in good time. Some organizations give scholarships ...

Scholarships for the USA

Visa for USA studies

If you want to study in the USA, you have to apply for a student visa (F / M visa). But how do you do that and which visa do you need to study in the USA?

USA student visa

Find the right university

There are thousands of colleges in the United States. Which ones do your subjects offer? Which are the best colleges in the US? How is the university equipped?

Universities USA

USA health insurance

Foreign students have to pay for their own medical care. Therefore, it is necessary to take out accident and health insurance for the USA.

... international insurance Care College USA

Country information USA

Do you eat the same way in the US as in Europe? How much do you tip in the US? Are the Americans so strict about punctuality?

... USA country & people