In most of the countries, Ministry of Education governs and controls Educational Systems. In the USA, it is a non-governmental volunteer process in which accrediting agencies recognized by the Department of Education accredit institutions. The accrediting agencies recognized by the Department of Education can have Regional or National Scope. Regional accrediting agencies accredit institutions within six geographic regions of the USA, for example, The Middle State Association of Schools and Colleges, The New England Association of Schools and Colleges, The North Central Association of the Colleges and Schools, and so on). National Accrediting agencies accredit specialized institutions or programs all across the USA. There are professional/specialized or programmatic accrediting agencies as well. It is important to note that The Council for Higher Education Accreditation also recognizes organizations that accredit institutions.
Graduate Education leads to Master’s, Professional and Doctoral Degrees in the USA. Some of the examples are MS, M Eng, MBA, M. Ed., MFA, M. Arch., etc. Graduate Education in most of the other countries is known as ‘Post Graduate Education’.
Master’s Degree is the most flexible and popular graduate degree, which requires one to two years of coursework.
In most arts and sciences disciplines, a master’s degree is not considered a prerequisite for doctoral study. The doctoral degree is designed to train research scholars in specific field. Ph. D. is the most common degree awarded in academic fields of study. Students can also earn other doctoral degrees in professional fields such as education (Ed. D.), business (D.B.A.). Doctoral programs involve advanced coursework, seminars, and the writing of a dissertation/thesis.
Public and Private Institutions
Institutions in the USA are both private and public; which however has no relationship to educational qualities. US Institutions are autonomous and independent in terms of operation. The role of the government bodies is only with the funds. Private institutions receive only little or no funds from the government but public institutions receive most of the funds from the government. They still receive funds from tuition fees and private donations. Usually, private universities in the USA tend to be more expensive than public universities. Private Universities are either religious or secular and for-profit or non-profit.
In Nepal, education is always the responsibility of the Ministry of Educational. Nepalese students can choose either private or public institutions based on their learning styles, academic abilities and financial strengths.
Colleges and Universities
There is no clear distinction between colleges and universities in the context of the USA. However, colleges tend to be and emphasize on interactive teaching. They offer Associate’s and Bachelor’s Degrees. Except for an absolutely few number of colleges, they don’t emphasize on research works. Universities tend to be research-oriented and they often comprise a number of divisions, including graduate and professional schools. They may place less emphasis on undergraduate teaching.
Liberal Arts Colleges
Liberal Arts colleges emphasize on interactive instruction, small class size and direct contact with faculty. They are focused to develop general knowledge in students. Academic courses are oriented towards humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. They are both public and private. Some of them are among the most prestigious institutions of higher education in the USA.
Institutions in the USA offering two-year degrees (Associate of Science or Associate of Arts) are referred to as Community Colleges. These degrees are either terminal (vocational) or transfer (the first two-years of a four-year program).
Scholarships and Assistantships
Scholarship is a form of assistance that students are not required to repay. Scholarships are based on merit, a special quality or need. Scholarships are very competitive and offered only to the students who have excellent achievements in academics, debating or athletics (There are other considerations as well, such as standardized test scores, Statement of Purpose, etc). The institutions offering full-scholarships are very limited. Some of the institutions award cultural scholarships, which cover only the partial tuition fees. Students should be well prepared to cover the remaining costs. Some institutions also offer scholarships based on the documentation related to their needs, but again the number is very few. Some of the universities/colleges have a policy to offer scholarships only after the first year.
Assistantships are offered mostly to the graduate students. Assistantships are aids with duties in teaching, research or school management. Usually students receiving the assistantship will receive monthly stipends plus a partial or full tuition waiver. There is a competition for the assistantship positions; however, assistantships are available in most of the universities.
Rankings are list of the US institutions in rank order based on combination of factors, such as class size, tuition rate, alumni donations, etc. In the U.S.A, rankings are made by organizations, newspapers, magazines or academics groups.
Some of the ranking systems that are very popular among Nepalese students are U.S. News & World Report, The Princeton Review and The Washington Monthly College Rankings.
Rankings are quite helpful when it comes to choosing schools or comparing schools, but we advise that students have an idea about how rankings are made. Rankings are too good to know but we strongly suggest you not to rely on it. It is important for you know what for an institution is ranked #1 or #2 (Is it class size or researches or peer review or graduation rates?) We believe it is your judgment about the overall appeal of the institutions that matters.
We want our students to focus on strengths and attributes of the institutions. We strongly believe that unranked institutions impart equally or even better quality education.
Transfer of Credits
Students from Nepal (Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu University, Pokhara University and Purvanchal University) are eligible to transfer credits they have obtained towards US Bachelor’s Degrees in the USA. It is important for you to understand that the recognition of the Nepalese credits is different from one school to another. The best way would be to submit the evaluation report prepared by any of the member agencies listed in NACES (www.naces.org) or AACRAO (www.aacrao.org). If you have British ‘A’ Levels, you can explore the possibilities for Advanced Standing.
CPT (Curriculum Practical Training)
Generally speaking, CPT is an integral part of academic program that helps the students gain practical knowledge in their field of study. Co-operative Education, Internships, work/study program etc. that exemplify CPT are what the students undergo mandatorily as a part of their programs. The institutions are required to have a cooperative agreement with the sponsoring employers.
Non-immigrant Students (only F1) are authorized for employment in United States of America during the college or Universities degree level programs. To be eligible for CPT, F1 students need to be enrolled for a minimum of one year academic program (other than few graduate cases) and the training will be granted through the DSO (Designated Student official) in coordination with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
OPT (Optional Practical Training)
Non-Immigrant Students (Graduate and Undergraduate) who entered United States on F-1 VISA are authorized to work for minimum of two consecutive semesters in the field of study. OPT can be extendable for a maximum of 29 months for the students in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. OPT is awarded to students to achieve the practical exposure in the same field of study.
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