· Liberal arts is a shortened form of the term "liberal arts and sciences," and the liberal arts philosophy is a unique feature of the U.S. higher education system. U.S. undergraduate education is based on this concept, which believes in providing a well-rounded academic education that develops the student's verbal, written, and reasoning skills. Students at a liberal arts college, or at a university with a strong liberal arts program, begin their degree study by taking classes in a wide variety of courses in the arts, humanities, languages, and the social and physical sciences. They then choose a subject in which to specialize (called a major) and take about 25 to 50 percent of their classes in the major area.
· Professional (that is, career-oriented) education is included within the U.S. university system. Large universities tend to be comprised of a college of arts and sciences and several professional schools - usually business, agriculture, medicine, law, and journalism.
· State College or University: A state school is supported and run by a state or local government. Each of the 50 U.S. states operates at least one state university and possibly several state colleges. Some state schools have the word "State" in their names.
· Private College or University: These schools are operated privately, not by a branch of the government. Tuition will usually be higher than at state schools. Often, private colleges and universities are smaller in size than state schools.
· Two-Year College: A two-year college admits high school graduates and awards an Associate's Degree. Some two-year colleges are state-supported, or public; others are private. Two-year college or "junior" college graduates usually transfer to four-year colleges or universities, where they complete the Bachelor's Degree in two or more additional years.
· Community College: This is a two-year state, or public college. Community colleges serve a local community, usually a city or county. Many of the students are commuters who live at home, or evening students who work during the day. Often community colleges welcome international students.
· Professional School: A professional school trains students in fields such as art, music, engineering, business, and other professions. Some are part of universities. Others are separate schools. Some offer graduate degrees.
· Institute of Technology: This is a school which offers at least four years of study in science and technology. Some institutes of technology have graduate programs. Others offer shorter courses.
· Technical Institute: A technical institute trains students in fields such as medical technology or industrial engineering. Although the course may prepare you for the career you want, the degree may or may not be equivalent to a college or university degree. Some colleges and universities do not accept credits from students who have attended technical institutes and want to transfer. If you are considering a technical institute, find out if your government, and U.S. colleges and universities, accept the school's degree.
· Distance education is an increasingly popular way to study for everything from a short professional course to a graduate degree in the United States, and there are numerous institutions offering undergraduate degree programs using distance education teaching methods. Under the distance education model, students no longer attend classes in a classroom on a campus; instead, classes are delivered "from a distance" through the use of technologies such as the Internet, satellite television, video conferencing, and other means of electronic delivery.