American Education System
“ The Totally Educated Individual ”
The American Educational System is characterized by a modular system known as credits. Credits or credit points, of which approximately 120 are necessary to earn a B.A. or B.Sc. Degree, are calculated by the number of hours a student spends in a class for a particular subject per week during a normal 15-week semester. If a student attends a class in Economics for 3 hours a week over the semester, for example, and if he passes the subject with a satisfactory grade at the end of the term, then the student earns 3 credits in Economics.
A full time student usually takes 5 subjects per semester and assuming he passes all of them, the student will accumulate 15 credits (5 subjects x 3 credits each). Accordingly, in the academic year (2 semesters), the student should earn some 30 credits. Most US Bachelor's degrees require 120 credits to qualify for a degree, thus students will need approximately four years of study, unless they choose to attend summer sessions to earn additional credits and thereby shorten the time required to earn a degree.
The American System is also characterized by its commitment to broad educational goals. The students in this system of education tend to select from many “elective subjects” and to choose a “minor” from outside their chosen field of study before or concurrently with their specialization or “major”(area of academic or professional preparation). These subjects count toward their degree, even though they may not be directly related to their area of concentration or specialization or “major field”. Indeed, American students are encouraged, sometimes required, to take subjects in many different areas in the course of their degree studies. This system is designed to prepare today’s students for the rapidly changing professional and technological challenges that await them after their graduation.
Generally, subjects are selected from wide categories such as Social Sciences, Humanities, Natural Sciences and Mathematics and are taken during the first two years of study. These courses are referred to as “General Education”. By doing these subjects, the students are exposed to a great variety of disciplines and consequently develop the broad background necessary for both intellectual growth and material well being. In addition, this wide background enables a student to read for two or three degrees at the same time!