If you are looking to enroll your child in the American education system, you’ll be happy to know that there’s a rich field of options available. There’s a wide variety of schools, programs, and locations that it’s easy to become overwhelmed – even for a U.S. citizen.

It’s important that you familiarize yourself with the grade levels in the American education system if you’re looking to develop an education plan. Don’t worry because we are here to help you understand the levels of education in the United States.

Primary Education

In the United States, most children go to school even before the age of six. It’s the age when compulsory education starts, usually in a kindergarten or nursery school. However, the details can vary from state to state. Elementary school begins with kindergarten and continues through primary school which lasts between three to seven years.

The curricula generally vary according to the school district, although the main focus is on reading, writing, and mathematics. Primary education starts from 6 to 11 years old.

Secondary Education

Secondary education is composed of two programs: middle school or junior high school and high school.

Middle school or junior high school is basically grades 6 to 8 and lasts for 3 years. However, there are other school districts that include the 9th grade in their middle school programs. Others may consider only 7th and 8th grades as the middle school years. This is the transitional period between elementary school and high school.

High school age range is from 9 to 12 years old and lasts for 4 years. High school students are required to take a wide variety of subjects in mathematics, English, science, and social sciences. There are school districts that require high school students to take foreign language or physical education. There are also high schools that offer vocational training courses. A course may last for one or two semesters.

Tertiary or Higher Education

After the high school years, a student may opt for tertiary or higher education – the optional final stage of formal learning after secondary education.

There are three levels of study of the American higher education system:

  • Undergraduate: If you are currently attending a university or college but has not earned a bachelor’s degree, then you are considered an undergraduate. To earn a bachelor degree typically means studying for four years. You may begin your studies to earn a bachelor degree by going to a community college or a four-year college or university.
  • Graduate in Pursuit of a Master’s Degree: As of this time, a holder of bachelor degree will want to consider attending a graduate study in order to advance his or her career or enter certain fields of professions. Having a master’s degree is usually mandatory for higher-level positions in fields like engineering, behavioral health, and education.
  • Graduate in Pursuit of a Doctorate Degree: If you want to earn a PD. (doctorate), you should first get a master’s degree. However, there are some schools that allow students to prepare for a doctorate despite not having a master’s. It might take three or more years to attain a doctorate degree.

Where to Get Higher Education?

There are numerous types of colleges and universities where students can enroll for higher education.

1. State College or University

A state college or university is usually run the local state or government. Each state in America has at least one state university and probably several state colleges. These public universities will usually have the name of the state and even the word “State” in their names.

For example, the University of Michigan or Washington State University.

2. Private College or University

These are privately owned institutions instead of being controlled by the government. Tuition fees are usually higher in private colleges when compared to state universities or colleges.

Examples of private colleges are Harvard University, Princeton University, and Harvard University.

3. Community College

A community college offers two years for a student to earn an associate degree and certifications. Associate degrees are transferable while there are others that are not.

Graduates of community colleges usually transfer to four-year universities or colleges to complete their degree. Since the credits earned from a community college are transferable, students can earn their bachelor’s degree in just two or more additional years.

Many community colleges also provide English language programs in preparation for university-level courses.

Ready to Enroll?

Hopefully, we have helped you gain an understanding of the grade levels and education system in the U.S.

Initially, it can be very overwhelming to grasp the levels of education in America. However, once you get to know and experience it, you will find that it is an environment that you can succeed in.

Happy Studying!

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