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United States Educational System

Education in the United States Overview.
(See more detailed information at U.S. Dept. of State)

This section provides an overview of the education system in the United States, including the names of different levels and ages of typical students within thoses levels.

Primary 9 years

Elementary ages 5-14,

or Elementary School, ages 5-11 and Middle School, ages 12 - 14

Secondary, 4 years, ages 14-18

Higher Education

Associate Degree, 2 years (60 - 80 semester credit hours*)

Bachelor's Degree, 4 years (120 - 135 semester hours)

Master's Degree, (36 - 60 semester hours, or 1 - 2 years full time, beyond a Bachelor's degree, with thesis or research paper)

Doctoral Degree, (Usually requires additional semester hours of class beyond those required for a Master's degree, or 1-3 years full time attendance beyond a master's degree, followed by preliminary examination in field, followed by dissertation and defense)

Continuing Education, all ages, all levels.

* a semester credit hour for a lecture class usually means class attendance for one hour per week for 16 weeks, for a lab class usually means more hours per week in lab for 1 semester hour of credit. Some institutions are still on "a quarter system." A quarter credit hour for a lecture class usually means class attendance for one hour per week for 12 weeks, for a lab class usually means more hours per week in lab for a 1 quarter credity hour of credit. Tranferring betwein institutions with quarters and with semesters can be done, however, your credits will be tranlated into the new system. For instance, a 4 quarter hour course would be translated into semester hours by multiplying 4 times 12/16, or 4 * .75, or 3 semester hours.