How Does College Work? [2023 Guide]

How Does College Work? [2023 Guide]

Are you soon to enter college? Are you perplexed by how college works? Learn all there is to know about college in the following paragraphs!

It’s essential to comprehend the American higher education system if you want to study abroad in America. It’s crucial to understand how it operates if you want to attend one of the numerous universities in the USA to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

Continue reading to learn how to make the most of your chance to pursue post-secondary education in the US.

How Does College Work?

The overall objective is the same, but every university or college will have a different way of teaching and studying. There are various classifications for the educational level you’ll receive within that. You’re more likely to succeed in college if you work on a project that you enjoy!

Starting from the smallest achievable goal, we’ll work our way up.


Studies of this nature can begin right after secondary or high school. There are primarily two choices within that. The two-year associate’s degree is the first option, followed by the four-year bachelor’s degree.

Don’t forget that while bachelor’s degrees can be obtained from universities and other four-year institutions, associate’s degrees are only offered by community or technical colleges. Students select a focus for their studies, known as a major, regardless of the area or circumstance.

In addition, students will be expected to enroll in general education courses or other required core classes to broaden and improve their communication and critical thinking abilities.

How Does College Work? [2023 Guide]


After receiving a bachelor’s degree, people enroll in graduate school, also known as grad school. In many other nations, it may take up to five years or longer to achieve this level of income.

In the US, a master’s degree is used to describe any degree earned after a four-year undergraduate program. Even though many schools offer a fast-track program, this can frequently take two to three years to complete. You should be aware that these can be taxing.

Studying in this manner enables you to delve deeply into your subject and maybe more academically or professionally oriented. One option is a master’s degree in philosophy, which is aimed at academics. Others might decide to pursue a master’s degree in marine biology, which would give them a specialty and increase their employment options.


In the US, post-graduate education includes doctoral studies and is defined as anything that occurs after receiving a master’s degree. The actual length of the doctorate will depend on two key things:

  1. Finished a master’s degree in a related field, if applicable?
  2. What is the projected completion date for their dissertation?

This process typically takes 2-3 years. Classes will come first, and the final product of your study will be a dissertation or lengthy research paper. To accomplish your objectives, you’ll collaborate closely with a faculty member who will serve as your advisor.

What Should I Know About Courses of Study and Choosing a Major?

Regardless of the career path students take after graduating, the US educational system is built to teach them life skills. As a result, students attending colleges or universities will enroll in a variety of courses to earn a degree.

How Does College Work? [2023 Guide]

Taking courses outside of one’s intended academic field of study is a foreign concept for many international students.

However, liberal arts courses in math, social studies, and natural sciences are valued by US colleges and universities, along with courses in history, English literature, and foreign languages.

These classes are regarded as crucial building blocks for developing critical thinking, logical reasoning, and communication abilities.

Majors, Minors, and Concentrations

When we were discussing undergraduate studies, we briefly discussed what a major is but we didn’t get too into it. They lay the groundwork for your degree and are crucial to the university process. Despite this, the majority of schools won’t let you take more than half of your classes in your university major.

Although these represent your areas of interest, other subjects must be taken into consideration if you are to graduate with a skill set that is well-rounded.

College minors are helpful in this situation. These are academic specializations that can improve your soft skills and make it easier for you to comprehend your coursework.

You have more choices for the field of study because concentrations are additional specializations within a given major. You could major in history, for instance, with a focus on Latin America or North Africa, or even a specialized field like the history of politics or religion.

BA Vs BS Vs BFA Degrees

Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degrees are the three most popular bachelor’s degrees in the United States.

While BS degrees cover business, math, science, engineering, health sciences, and other tech fields, BA degrees are more focused on liberal arts majors in the humanities and social sciences. The creative arts, like dance or music, are aligned with BFA degrees.

How Does College Work? [2023 Guide]


The question of which US colleges and universities have government approval may arise for international students. Keep in mind that there is no Ministry of Higher Education in America, and neither does the federal government have the authority to regulate which colleges and universities may exist.

There are six regional accreditation organizations that allow almost all public and private nonprofit colleges and universities to function in the US educational system. (National accrediting organizations have accredited the majority of private for-profit colleges.)

Several academic programs may be accredited by a national organization within a single institution (e.g., ABET, which concentrates on the caliber of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs). Program accreditations are also indicators of high academic standards.

How Do Transfer Credits Work?

The requirements for applying to study in the US may change if you are considered a transfer student if you have completed some undergraduate coursework already.

With regard to standardized test requirements and deadlines, the application process for transfer students is a little bit different. While other colleges and universities permit transfer students to begin in the spring or even the summer, some only accept transfer undergraduate or graduate applicants for the fall semester.

You might be able to apply the courses you’ve already taken toward your bachelor’s degree requirements. Transfer credits are what they are called.

US colleges and universities have transfer programs for students who haven’t completed more than two years of study, and at many colleges, only two years’ worth of course credit can be used to satisfy degree requirements.

Conclusion: How Does College Work?

International students have access to opportunities at US colleges and universities that can change their lives. How then does college operate? Now that you know more about it, you should be prepared and eager to take on the world of higher education.

Qualifications are frequently required in the professional world, but they don’t have to be burdensome.


Is a University the Same as a College?

Colleges and universities primarily differ in program offerings and degree types. “University” refers to larger institutions offering both undergraduate and graduate programs. “College” refers to community colleges, technical schools, and liberal arts colleges.

How Does College Work in the UK?

Universities are where higher education is offered in the UK. Students may apply to universities to pursue bachelor’s degree programs after completing their two years of secondary school or college. So one of the main differences between university and college is that college in the UK is usually pre-university.

How Does College Work in the Philippines?

Colleges typically offer 1 or more specialized programs while universities must offer at least 8 different undergraduate degree programs in a wide array of subjects and at least 2 graduate programs. Public universities all offer a wide variety of programs and use English as their primary language of instruction. They are also all nonsectarian.

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