Bachelor’s or master’s degree, semester abroad or summer sessions? Finding the right study program is not easy. Especially not in the USA, where prospective students have to choose between more than 4,500 accredited universities.
The admission requirements for studying in the USA can be a point of reference when choosing a university and course of study. On the basis of this, applicants can better assess their chances of admission to the university of their choice.
Due to the decentralized structure of the US study system, the universities can largely determine the application process themselves and decide autonomously about the admission of applicants.
As different as the admission requirements for studying in the USA may be, it applies to all US universities that the allocation of study places is non-discriminatory, i.e. regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, family status, disability, religion, skin color, ethnic or social Origin must take place.
Academic minimum requirements according to type of study
Although the exact application process varies by university and college, most accredited colleges in the United States base their formal minimum academic requirements on specific standards. Learn more about USA and North America on a2zgov.
Bachelor in the USA
In order to be able to start a bachelor’s degree in the USA, applicants must have a university entrance qualification. This can be the Abitur, but the technical college entrance qualification is often sufficient.
In the United States, students typically graduate from high school after 12 years and have access to college. Applicants from Germany who have obtained their Abitur after 13 years can, under certain circumstances, have their 13th school year credited. The so-called Advanced Standing can shorten the course by one academic year, so that students study three instead of four years in the USA. The US universities check on a case-by-case basis whether a shortened study period is an option.
Postgraduate and master’s degree in the USA
With an undergraduate degree – in most cases, a bachelor’s degree – Candidates are usually one to accommodate construction – or master’s program in the United States justified. Since a bachelor’s degree usually takes three years in Germany and four years in the USA, there are occasional problems with recognition.
Prospective students should not be discouraged by this, because the host university in the USA conducts individual examinations in these cases. The responsible university staff will check which courses the applicant has taken during the bachelor’s degree. They also include application documents such as letters of recommendation or essays in the decision.
The university may give an acceptance, but requires that the applicant also take a bachelor’s degree in the USA in order to close existing knowledge gaps.
Depending on the type of master’s program, the admission requirements for studying in the USA may vary:
- Academic Master: For academic courses, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree in a related subject and some prior technical knowledge. However, many master’s programs are open to students from other fields.
- Professional Master: In the case of job-related master’s programs, the field of study often plays a minor role. It is more important that applicants have a certain level of work experience in a relevant field. This is especially true for MBA programs as well as for courses in education or engineering.
PhD in the USA
A requirement for a doctoral degree in the USA is usually a very good to good master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree is sufficient for some vocational courses. In addition, there are combined Master’s / Ph.D programs at some universities to which Bachelor graduates have access. Achievements from the master’s degree can then often be credited towards the Ph.D. degree.
Many universities require a GPA (Grade Point Average) of B for a doctoral degree, which corresponds to grade 2 in the German grading system. However, it is difficult to make generally valid statements about the required average grade. Especially at the doctoral level there are big differences in the admission requirements for studying in the USA.
The exact selection criteria depend not least on whether students apply for a scientific doctoral degree such as the Ph.D. or opt for a professional doctorate, such as the Juris Doctor (JD).
From semesters abroad to summer sessions: short-term studies with low entry barriers
Many American semester and summer programs have low admission requirements and are therefore particularly popular with international students. Even for an Academic Gap Year, a “taster course” for high school graduates, the entry barriers are similarly low.
For “ Study Abroad ” programs and summer sessions as well as for “ Gap Year ” programs, the Abitur or advanced technical college entrance qualification is sufficient in many cases. Some universities also set a minimum age for participation, which is usually 17 or 18 years.
In addition, there are semester and summer programs that are only aimed at enrolled students. Admission criteria are then, for example, one or two completed semesters. In addition, there are sometimes higher admission requirements for master’s students: Those who want to take master’s courses often need prior specialist knowledge. With the help of a transcript of records, applicants can prove that they have attended courses with comparable content at their home university.
Language courses in the USA are also easily accessible to international students. Some courses are aimed at enrolled students, while other language courses have no admission restrictions at all. In this case, applicants only need to be 17 or 18 years old and have a minimum level of language skills. Still other language programs are academically oriented. After successfully completing the course, the course participants can often join a regular course of study at the university, provided that they meet the academic requirements.
Opportunity for applicants without a high school diploma: Community colleges in the USA
Even prospective students without a high school diploma can fulfill their dream of studying abroad in the USA – and that without university admission. Almost half of all US students first study at a community college in the US, thereby gaining access to the American higher education system.
Once they have successfully completed the two-year associate degree at a community college, graduates can in many cases switch to the third year of a bachelor’s degree at a college or university. To study at a community college, the secondary school leaving certificate in combination with a two-year vocational training course is sometimes sufficient.