How is the community college for freshmen

University and education systems abroad often show serious differences to Germany. Find out more about the types of universities, admission requirements and tuition fees.



The post-secondary education system is considered a service industry in the United States and consists of approximately 10,000 facilities with. The sponsorship can be public or private, and since these are independent commercial enterprises, it is not surprising that the universities are managed by a non-academic board of directors. This status explains the high tuition fees and the usual advertising and public relations departments.

The accreditation is the most important criterion for the later recognition of American academic achievements in Germany. All applicants should ensure that the chosen university is a "".

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Databases for choosing a university:

Rankinghas become an integral part of American higher education. The results may differ depending on the reviewing organization and the catalog of criteria, so caution is advised. Rankings have a commercial aspect and are carried out primarily by private bodies or the media, not by a generally recognized government authority. Lists can be found e.g. with and as well as that of the doctoral courses and the new one (according to subject).

campus describes the unity of life and study that is often common in the USA - a self-contained community with its own often strict rules.

The academic year covers a period of nine to ten months and is usually divided into two semesters. However, there are a number of different models and variations.

The timetable / curriculum (program / curriculum) forms the outer framework for the individual study plan, which must be discussed with and approved by the academic adviser assigned to each student. If a student fails, the adviser must also be responsible for it. The competitiveness of the entire system is expressed in the performance-oriented course of the course: a large workload and the principle of continuous intermediate exams.

The grading (grades) of the individual subjects is set in relation to the number of hours per week in the semester (credit hours) in order to record the performance required for a degree as objectively as possible.

Academic degrees are not protected in the USA and do not automatically qualify for a job.

Types of universities and degrees

Due to the complexity of American higher education, only the most relevant types can be listed here.

  • 2-year community colleges:
    The course content is largely at the level of the upper secondary school level. Only those who consciously want to "get out" for a while and experience America at leisure, without major professional requirements and academic stress, may make the right choice with a community college.

  • 4-year colleges:
    As independent institutions and at the same time as the core of the universities, they are the training centers for undergraduate education. The desired degree is the academic degree of Bachelor of Arts or Sciences (B.A./B.S.).

  • University (some technical universities are called Institute of Technology):
    These are universities that offer courses in the graduate area in addition to college education.

  • Graduate Schools:
    They are part of the university and in the graduate study they deepen the scientific study beyond college. The degree is either the Master’s (M.A. = of Arts, M.S. = of Science) or, in the case of a doctorate, the doctoral degree (Ph.D. = Doctor of Philosophy). Typical subjects are the non-job-related disciplines of the humanities.

  • Professional Education / Professional School:
    This is used to designate departments and faculties that lead to 'learned professions'. The study programs usually end with a first professional degree (e.g. Bachelor of Arts in Education) and can be deepened in graduate programs that lead to a second professional degree (e.g. Master of Arts in Teaching).

Study system

The American higher education system is highly decentralized and extremely diverse. The institutions differ in terms of goals, organizational structure, type of study programs (academic or professional) and funding (public / private). There is no central body that controls or coordinates the education sector. The following points define the character of the American education system and at the same time illustrate the main differences to the German mainly state-organized and financed education system:

Unlike many other countries, the US has no national education law. The federal government (national government) has a very limited authority on educational issues, which it shares with other government institutions at state and local government levels as well as with educational institutions. The structure of this shared responsibility for educational policy and planning is extraordinarily complex; however, the main authority in education lies with the institutions themselves and the communities.

The educational institutions / universities are the highest authority for all academic questions: they decide autonomously about admission, curriculum, recognition, etc.

Professional qualifying licenses for doctors, teachers, etc. are awarded by the relevant (professional) associations (licensing agencies), usually at the state level.

The American education system sees itself as a provider of a variety of educational and training opportunities that students pay for. Many German students have to get used to the idea of ​​post-secondary education as a commercialized service sector, but advertising and public relations are part of the American university landscape and a matter of course for Americans.

The study in the USA is divided into two clearly separated sections: the four-year course undergraduate studies and the following two-year-olds graduate studies.

Those qualifying for regulated academic professions professional studies follow their own rules and procedures. The American higher education system has around 2,500 academic degrees, which can be divided into four large groups: Associate degrees (community colleges), Bachelor degrees (undergraduate studies), Master's degrees (graduate studies), doctoral degrees (Ph.D.).

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  • You can also find information on recognition in our.


With regard to the classification and admission of German applicants (and other foreign applicants), the American universities completely autonomous. Every applicant is in tough competition with the other applicants.

For German aspirants, the general university entrance qualification certificate or the specialist university entrance qualification certificate in general is the basic requirement for admission; Without a general university entrance qualification, access to similar subjects in Germany is also limited in the USA. But there are exceptions, e.g. at Harvard University (), university admission is open, regardless of any formal educational background. An exemption from the language test is also possible in exceptional cases. That is also possible here.

In addition, proof of achievement and, if possible, a Letter of recommendation submitted (both also for new students).

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The application process begins with the first request for admission, which must be sent to the American university at which you want to study at least one year before you plan to start studying. This letter is addressed to the Office of Admissions (first-year students) or the Director of Graduate Studies (students continuing their studies).

The documents for the application should be drawn up with the greatest care, as they play a decisive role in the selection of applicants. In doing so, it is essential to orientate yourself on the structures and formulations customary in America. On the Internet you can find help with writing statements of purpose, letters of recommendation and curriculum vitae, e.g. at.

  • Admission tests (admission test) are mandatory for all applicants.
  • Language tests (in general) are required of foreigners.
  • Additional ones are common Application essays (personal essay / personal statement)which is equivalent to a letter of motivation.
  • Freshmen often have to take entrance exams (SAT). Alternatively, more and more universities are accepting the ACT exam.
  • Applicants for graduate degree programs often have to pass a (/) in addition to providing evidence of the required years of study or academic degrees.

More on the subject of entrance tests

  • : For intensive preparation for various tests (GRE, TOEFL etc.)
  • > Detailed information on admission exams

A is also necessary Proof of funding. You have to sign the corresponding form from the university and send it back to the university with the necessary supporting documents (confirmation from the bank), regardless of any scholarship that may be expected at a later date.

The German doctoral admission (University degree) is not recognized as direct admission to a Ph.D. program. Further requirements must be clarified with the respective university.

The enrollment deadlines are usually in June / July (preregistration) and one to two weeks before the start of lectures (registration). The exact enrollment data must be requested from the university concerned. At many universities, enrollment is also possible by telephone.

Due to the complete autonomy of the universities, all admission criteria must be clarified in direct contact with the respective university.

tuition fee

The tuition fees vary depending on the institution, the chosen training course and the desired degree between approx. US $ 2,000.00 (community college) and US $ 33,000.00 (graduate study / university) per academic year. The average range is around US $ 12,000 to US $ 23,000. Private institutions cost around US $ 30,000. The exact tuition fee must be requested from the respective institution for each individual case. (EUR 1, - = US $ 1.11913; as of April 2019)

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  • > Information on financing your studies in North America

Language requirements

Even before the start of the course, the linguistic prerequisites must be good enough that a sufficient vocabulary of technical terms enables effortless participation in the courses. Proof of sufficient knowledge of English is part of the admission requirements.

A TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is usually compulsory. As an alternative to the TOEFL, more and more American universities are now accepting the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

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  • Current information about the TOEFL on
  • More about the
Overviews of Intensive English Programs (TOEFL preparation, summer sessions) are offered by the following organizations:

Visa, work permit, looking for accommodation, cost of living - the information put together here will help you prepare.


Residence permit and work permit

German visitors need a valid passport to enter the USA. For a stay in the USA of less than three months you don't need a German
Visa, but you have to apply for one online. Furthermore, a student visa is required for the study visit (over 3 months), which can be obtained after submitting the Certificate of Eligibility is granted. The certificate is obtained from the American host university. Student visas do not include a work permit; in some cases this can be issued by the host university.

In addition to the visa application fee, there is a fee for the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to pay. You can obtain detailed visa information from the embassy. If you intend to enter the USA without a visa, you have to get one.

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  • Explanation of the new visa regulations>
  • > Information and fees
  • (US Embassy)
  • Please think of a foreign health insurance; a possible alternative is that.

Cost of living

Of course, a binding amount cannot be given here, but it is advisable to use orientation data as a starting point. The easiest way to calculate the cost of living is for students who live in a dormitory on campus. In this - probably the cheapest - case, in addition to the tuition fees, about US $ 1,000 per month must be expected, so that the total costs for an academic year are between US $ 16,000 and US $ 46,000 (EUR 1, - = US $ 1.11913; as of April 2019).

For students who live outside the university campus (off campus), the costs are mainly determined by the amount of rent, which varies greatly depending on the city and region. The best thing to do here is to ask your future host university about the usual local price level.

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  • Study in the USA>
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  • Some perks are available through the


Campus universities offer both accommodation and meals at prices between US $ 5,200 and US $ 10,000 per year (excluding holiday periods). On the private housing market, rents vary widely from region to region between US $ 7,000 and US $ 15,000 per year.

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You can find practical tips for everyday life at.