Education in USA

The educational attainment of the U.S. population is similar to that of many other industrialized countries with the vast majority of the population having completed secondary education and a rising number of college graduates that outnumber high school dropouts. As a whole, the population of the United States is spending more years in formal educational programs. As with income, levels differ by race, age, household configuration and geography.


Educational attainment in the United States (2014)[3]
Education Age 25 and over Age 25-29
High School Diploma 88.31% 90.83%
Some college 58.57% 64.31%
Associate and/or bachelor’s degree 41.89% 44.08%
Bachelor’s degree 31.96% 34.04%
Master’s and/or doctorate and/or professional degree 11.77% 7.57%
Doctorate and/or professional degree 3.27% 1.70%
Doctorate 1.77% 0.89%


Overview of education

About 87% of school-age children attend public schools, about 10% attend private schools,[5] and roughly 3% are home-schooled.

Education in the United States is generally compulsory for an age range between five and eight and ending somewhere between ages sixteen and eighteen, depending on a particular state.

Government-supported and free public schools for all began to be established after the American Revolution. In 1823, Reverend Samuel Read Hall founded the first normal school, the Columbian School in Concord, Vermont,[11][12] to improve the quality of the burgeoning common school system by producing more qualified teachers.

The United States spends more per student on education than any other country.

Educational Stages

Formal education in the U.S. is divided into a number of educational stages.  Most children enter the public education system around ages five or six. Children are assigned into year groups known as grades.

Depending upon their curriculum, children may begin school in pre-kindergartenkindergarten or first grade.

Education is mandatory until age 16. There are generally six years of primary (elementary) school, three years of middle school, and four years of high school.


Preschool or Pre-Kindergarten

The first stage of education in the States starts with preschool or pre-kindergarten. They do not have a structured educational syllabus and encompasses non-compulsory classroom-based early-childhood education prior to the age of five to six. This is not a compulsory stage for all the students as children can directly enrol to kindergarten.

Primary education

Primary education in the U.S. generally means the first eight years of formal education. It is also called as elementary school or primary school. The first year of primary education is commonly referred to as kindergarten and begins at or around age 5. Here, children attend school up to 5th grade.

Secondary education

Secondary school consists of two programs: the first is “middle school” or “junior high school” and the second program is “high school.” A diploma or certificate is awarded upon graduation from high school. After graduating high school (12th grade).

Middle school includes sixth to eighth grade (occasionally 5th grade). High school comprises grades 9 or 10 to 12.

Students in these grades are commonly referred to as freshmen (grade 9), sophomores (grade 10), juniors (grade 11) and seniors (grade 12).

The range of grades defined are often based on demographic factors, such as an increase or decrease in the relative numbers of younger or older students, with the aim of maintaining stable school populations.


The age of children home-schooled ranges from (ages 5–17) in a grade equivalent to at least kindergarten and not higher than 12th grade who receive instruction at home instead of at a public or private school either all or most of the time.

In 2014, approximately 1.5 million children were home-schooled, up 84% from 1999 when the U.S. Department of Education first started keeping statistics. This was 2.9% of all children.

These are the various factors or motivations that encourages home-schooling in America.


Higher education in the U.S is an optional final stage of formal learning following secondary education. Higher education can pursued in colleges or universities which offer undergraduate degrees such as Associate’s degrees or Bachelor’s degrees (baccalaureate).

Latest figures available in 2015, the US has a total of degree-granting institutions: 3,026 4-year institutions and 1,700 2-year institutions.

The US had 21 million students in higher education, roughly 5.7% of the total population.

  • First Level: Undergraduate

A student attending a college or university, who has not earned a bachelor’s degree, is probably studying at the undergraduate level. One can either begin studies for a bachelor’s degree for about four years at a community college– (primarily two-year public institutions providing higher education. After graduating from a community college, some students transfer to a four-year  college or university for two to three years to complete a bachelor’s degree) or a four-year study at university or college.

  • Second Level: Graduate in Pursuit of a Master’s Degree

A college or university graduate may seriously want to pursue a master’s degree in order enter certain professions or advance in their career.

Graduate programs in pursuit of a master’s degree typically take one to two years to complete. Certain master’s programs require specific tests, such as the LSAT for law school, the GRE or GMAT for business school, and the MCAT for medical school.

  • Third Level: Graduate in Pursuit of a Doctorate Degree

This level of degree can also called as PhD degree. Many graduate schools consider the attainment of a master’s degree the first step towards earning a PhD (doctorate). But at other schools, students may prepare directly for a doctorate without also earning a master’s degree. It may take three years or more to earn a PhD degree. For international students, it may take as long as five or six years.

Drop outs in America

UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) show that approximately 124 million children and adolescents were out of school in 2013. Of this number, 59 million were of primary school age and 65 million were of lower secondary school age.

The estimate for 2013 represents a decrease by 72 million from 2000, when about 196 million children and adolescents were out of school.

1.3 million High school students don’t graduate on time yearly. States with highest rates (80-89%) are Wisconsin, Iowa, Vermont, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. States with lowest (less than 60%) are Nevada, New Mexico, Louisiana, Georgia and S. Carolina.

In the U.S., high school dropouts commit about 75% of crimes.

High school dropouts in the U.S. are more likely to be unemployed, have low-paying jobs, be incarcerated, have children at early ages and/or become single parents. He status high school dropout rate in 2009 was 8.1%.

After 2013, there has been a decline in the number of drop outs in America. The national high school graduation rate for 2014 is 82.3 percent – an all-time high.

Between 1990 and 2013, the male status dropout rate declined from 12 to 7 percent, with nearly the entire decline occurring after 2000 (when it was still 12 percent). For females, the rate declined from 12 percent in 1990 to 10 percent in 2000, and then decreased further to 6 percent in 2013.

Much of the gain made in recent years comes from increased graduation rates for students of colour. 72.5 percent of African American students and 76.3 percent of Hispanic/Latino students graduated in 2014.[

Extracurricular activities

Almost every high school in the U.S. offers some type of extracurricular activity, such as music, academic clubs, and sports.

Extracurricular activities play a very important role in the educational environment of the United States. A major characteristic of American schools is the high priority given to sports, clubs and activities by the community. Most states have organizations that develop rules for competition between groups. Sports programs and their related games, especially football and/or basketball, are major events for American students and for larger schools can be a major source of funds for school districts.


Education in USA for international students

America has always been number one choice for international students for top most student life experience as the top ten colleges and universities in the world, eight are American.

America has the world’s largest international student population, with over 8, 00, 00 students choosing to broaden their education each year.

Total international student enrolment: 886,052 for the Year: 2013-2014

From this we can conclude that, the number of international students coming to the States is increasing and is estimated to increase in the coming years, with the leading contributor of students coming from China. $30.8 billion was contributed to the U.S. economy by international students in 2014/15.

Britain remains the most popular destination for US students studying abroad, followed by Italy, Spain, France and China.

The reasons for which The United States of America remains the number one destination for international students are:

  • USA has most of the world renowned institutions and universities and students have numerous education options and diversifications to choose from which their native country may not have.
  • As English is the most common language spoken in the world, students choose to study here, so that they can improve their English accent while experiencing American life; or while working at an internship or job.
  • The experience to live in a totally different country and environment: domes, fraternities, etc.


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