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USA Education System

In the USA, students study a total of 12 years of primary and secondary education from first to twelfth grades. Secondary education consists of two programmes ‘middle’ or ‘junior high school’ progressing to ‘high school’ On completion of 12th grade, students receive a diploma or certificate when they graduate and usually go on to College or University.

The academic year generally starts in August/September until May/June. It is made up of two ‘semesters’

There are two types of high school in the United States: Private and Public schools:

Private high schools accept overseas students and are divided into boarding schools and day schools. Boarding schools offer student accommodation at the school. Day schools don't offer accommodation, international students live in local homestays. There are no fixed entrance requirements for private high schools, but they generally require English test scores of SSAT, ISEE, TOEFL or IELTS and may also ask for an entry test.

Public high schools only accept short term students up to one year.

Private high schools are the most popular choice for international students looking to study in the USA.


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Above shows the exams required for admissions at each stage education in the USA. Many quality schools now offer flexible and diverse admission methods. UKEAS will be able to advise you on which tests are required by individual schools.

Please choose the table below to compare school systems with that of the USA. UKEAS will be able to help you choose the correct year for your child to apply for.


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Education Stages

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Studying in an American high school generally takes 4 years from 9-12 grade


Bachelor Degree

There are two options for getting a bachelor degree:

  1. Two-year colleges:Community colleges have lower admission levels and tuition fees. Students graduating from community colleges can gain an Associate Degree which can also be used as the foundation for a bachelor degree by completing a further two years study at another US university or college.
  2. Four-year colleges:There are two kinds of colleges: public (state) and private colleges. Generally, the tuition fee of public colleges is lower than that of private colleges. A bachelor degree usually takes 4 years.

Master Degree

A Master degree usually takes two years, a doctoral degree usually takes four to five years or even longer.