Education in the USA

By | March 24, 2022

According to acronymmonster, the USA is a country of educated people. Ninety-nine percent of the US population is literate (that is, they can at least read and write), more than eighty percent of the country’s adults have completed secondary education, and about thirty percent have higher education (that is, at least a bachelor’s degree).

At the same time, the US federal government has minimal influence on the education system, mainly education issues are regulated by state and local governments.

In the United States, the level of education greatly affects the level of income and, as a result, belonging to a particular social class. Characteristically, in almost any model of the division of the US population into social classes, in order to belong to the highest of them, it is practically necessary to be an Ivy League university graduate (that is, to have the highest possible level of education).

The structure of the education system in the United States

The education system in the United States consists of several levels: preschool, secondary (school) and higher education.

Preschool education (preschool) is educational programs for children of three to five years old, reminiscent of the kindergartens we are used to. There are private preschool institutions, as well as those funded by the states and the US federal government (the Head Start program for children from low-income families). Preschool education is not compulsory in the United States of America.

Children receive compulsory secondary education in schools, with three levels: primary school (elementary school), secondary school (middle school) and higher school (high school). About ten percent of American children go to private schools, about three percent are homeschooled (for religious, medical, or other reasons), and most receive their secondary education in public schools.

After graduation, you can continue your studies at higher educational institutions – colleges or universities. Studying at a university can take two years (“associate degree”, associate’s degree, something like secondary specialized education), four years (bachelor’s degree, bachelor, the most popular and widespread form of higher education in the US) or more (master’s, master or doctoral degrees philosophy, doctor of philosophy).

The structure of the education system in the United States
The level of education Level of education (English) Age and duration of study
Early childhood education in the USA
Preschool education Preschool up to 5-6 years
Secondary (school) education in the USA
Primary school, from “zero” (Kindergarten) to fifth grade elementary school from 5-6 to 10-11 years old
Middle school, sixth to eighth grade middle school from 11-12 to 13-14 years old
Higher (high) school, from the ninth to the twelfth grade high school from 14-15 to 17-18 years old
Higher education in the USA
“Two-year” college (“junior” or “community” or “technical” or “city” college), “associate” degree Two-year college (junior or community or technical or city college)Associates degree Training for two years, usually from 18-19 to 20-21 years
University (college), bachelor’s degree University (College), Bachelor’s degree Education for four years, usually from 18-19 to 22-23 years old
University (college), master’s degree University (College), Master’s degree
University (College), Ph.D. University (College), Doctor of Philosophy

US government and education

The education system in the United States is decentralized, there are no uniform curricula or standards for the whole country. The fact is that education issues are not covered in the US Constitution, which means that they are in the control of state governments. Even the accreditation of higher education institutions and the development of testing systems for applicants in the United States is carried out by private organizations.

However, since 1980 the US has had a Department of Education (one of the smallest ministries in the US government, with about 5,000 employees). The tasks of the US Department of Education are:

  • enforcement of federal laws on education,
  • collection of data on US educational institutions,
  • distribution and management of the use of federal funding for educational projects.

The US Department of Education does not create or operate educational institutions. Its members include the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation, the Office of Federal Student Aid, and various advisory boards and committees.

The US federal government owns only eight institutions of higher education: the US Military Academy (West Point, New York), the US Naval Academy (Annapolis, Maryland), the US Coast Guard Academy (New London, Connecticut), US Naval Trade Academy (Kings Point, NY), US Air Force Academy (Colorado Springs, CO), FBI Academy (Quantico, VA), Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Brunswick, GA) ), National Academy of Mine Health and Safety (Beckley, West Virginia) and the US Military Medical University (Bethesda, Maryland).

Secondary education in the USA

Secondary education in the US is compulsory. More than eighty percent of the US adult population has completed secondary education.

Education in the United States is not regulated at the state level. The US government can influence education issues only indirectly, by recommending and funding certain educational programs.

Most children in the United States (about 87%) receive their secondary education in free public schools (public school), although there are also private schools (private school), in which about 10% of American students study.

Virtually all private schools in the US are run by some form of religious organization, such as Catholic schools. As a rule, private schools provide a higher level of education than public ones. There are also several specialized private schools for gifted children in the USA.

About three percent of students study at home. The main reasons why children in the United States receive “home” secondary education, and not at school, are religious considerations, any special (physical or mental) needs of the child, dissatisfaction with academic programs, and parental concern about a possible unfavorable environment in an educational institution. Legislation in different states of the United States treats home education differently. In some states, parents who want to self-educate their child even require a certain level of education. At the same time, despite numerous disputes about the legality of home education, its legitimacy is confirmed by the decision of the US Supreme Court.

Higher education in the USA

Higher education in the United States is generally recognized as the best in the world. In the most prestigious world rankings of higher education institutions, US universities and colleges traditionally occupy a leading position. So, for example, as of 2018, the top ten universities in the world in the Academic Ranking of World Universities (Shanghai Ranking) included eight US universities and institutions, and fifteen American universities are in the top twenty of the Times Higher Education world university rankings., in the top twenty of the Quacquarelli Symonds ranking – eleven higher educational institutions in the United States.

There are more than four thousand institutions of higher education in the United States of America. College education (bachelor’s degree or higher) is about thirty percent of the US population.

The oldest university in the United States, Harvard, was founded near Boston, Massachusetts, in 1636.

Education in the USA