Why are you studying in college

Study in the USA

When it comes to the USA, there is no avoiding superlatives. With 50 states on over 9.5 million km² and 320 million inhabitants, the United States is the third largest country in the world.

The USA - a look at the country and its people

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The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most popular destinations for studying abroad in the USA.

Since the beginning of the 20th century they are political and economic World power number one. There are more Nobel Prize winners here than in any other country. The world's most successful film industry and the deepest canyon on the planet, the Grand Canyon, can be found here.

The USA - the land of superlatives

Anyone who travels to the huge country on the North American continent quickly realizes that the motto Taller, Bigger, Faster actually often applies. For example in the cities: dizzying high skyscrapers, eight-lane highways and gigantic shopping centers are completely normal in metropolises like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or San Diego. The cultural offerings in the big cities are also huge. World-class museums, theaters, hip clubs, countless restaurants, bars and cafes offer something for every taste.

Facets of the American landscape

The landscapes of the USA are no less impressive. Their diversity alone is overwhelming. In the total six climate zones there are huge mountains, untouched forests, endless red desert landscapes and dusty prairies. Huge canyons, active super volcanoes and tropical swamp landscapes also shape the landscape of the USA. There are also rainforests, rough coastlines and sun-drenched sandy beaches. No wonder that even today thousands of immigrants and visitors from all over the world flock to the USA to find their personal American Dream to realize. All of this and much more can be experienced when studying in the USA.

The USA as the most popular study country

The USA has been the world's most popular country for studying abroad for decades. For German students, too, the USA is next to the neighboring countries one of the most sought-after destination countries for a Study abroad, which can also be seen in the graphic below.

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Diagram: German students abroad (USA), source: Federal Statistical Office

University landscape in the USA

One of the reasons why many students choose to study in the USA is the diverse university landscape. The US is not just that world's most popular country for studying abroad. There is more here too first class universities than anywhere else in the world. In international rankings, US universities regularly represent the largest number of the top 100. In the so-called Ivy League the US elite universities have come together. Harvard is also the university with the best reputation in the world. The universities of the University of California System and the California State University System are also highly regarded and known worldwide.

Support and service at US universities

International students keep reporting from the intensive care by the teachers and the great Sense of community at universities in the USA.

Due to the large number of universities, these are in strong competition with each other. As a result, US universities are intensely advertising for new students. They offer high quality study programs and by far more comprehensiveService offers than in this country. Many universities are tempting too

  • a high level of individual support: each student is assigned a study advisor.
  • Courses with smaller courses, in which there is often a lively discussion culture
  • one Open Door Policy: Many teachers are always available for their students.

Campus life while studying in the USA

Campus life at US universities is also a unique experience for international students. Most students live directly on campus. There you will find everything you need for life: catering options in the form of Dining halls and Food courts, Libraries, sports halls and even cinemas. That too Leisure activities is at most colleges enormously. University sports in particular play an important role in everyday student life in the USA.

The downside of this system is that students have to pay for the service and high quality of teaching themselves. The level of advertising that is carried out can also seem disconcerting to international students.

College or University - types of colleges in the United States

The university landscape in the USA is extremely diverse. There is more than 4,500 accredited U.S. universities, which offer a huge range of courses. Several types of higher education institution can be distinguished within the US higher education system.

Colleges in the United States

The far most common type of university are the colleges. There the students complete their undergraduate studies and obtain a Bachelor's degree within four years.

Community Colleges USA

Community colleges have two-year degree programs in which students take the lowest degree of the USA can acquire: the Associate Degree. It is true that this is not recognized as an independent qualification in Germany. However, so-called Transfer Degree Programs be an entry ticket to a bachelor's program at a regular college or university.


To the Universities there are not only bachelor's but also master’s programs. Students also have the opportunity to do a doctorate here.

Accreditation as a quality feature in studies in the USA

When choosing a college in the US, students should pay attention to the quality of the institution by a official accreditation body confirmed has been. Studies at a non-accredited university may not be recognized in Germany.

Official accreditation bodies can be recognized by the fact that they are dated U.S. Department of Education have been recognized or are a member of Council of Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) are.

Study system USA - the degrees

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Anyone studying in the Big Apple of the USA can relax from the noisy city on a walk through Central Park.

The academic year in the US is usually in two semesters divided. However, the trimester system has prevailed at some universities. The grading system also differs within the USA. For example, some universities and colleges use different methods to calculate grade point average.

In contrast, the study system in the United States is uniformly regulated. It is divided into two parts and is divided into one Undergraduate and Graduate Sections.

Bachelor: The basic

In the USA, but also in Germany and many other countries, the Bachelor is a Degree from the Undergraduate-Area. The bachelor's degree in the USA usually takes four years to complete.

In the first two years, students usually attend general education courses (General Studies). You can then choose a major (major) choose.

Associate Degree: The American

On one Community College in the US, students can enter Associate degree complete and one Associate Degree acquire. In the context of so-called Transfer Programs it is possible to switch to a college or university after two years and study there for a further two years until a bachelor's degree.

Community colleges often conclude cooperation agreements with universities that make it easier to switch to them. Thus, participation in a Transfer Program a good way to be too without a high school diploma to a bachelor's degree to get. In addition, studying at a community college is usually cheaper and the admission requirements are less strict than at regular colleges.

Master: The postgraduate

The Graduate- Degree takes place in the USA exclusively on the Universities or Institutes of Technology instead of. It takes two years and leads to a master’s degree. There are scientific master’s programs (Academic Master) as well as job-related master’s courses (Professional Master) like the Master of Business Administration.

Then there are the so-called Professional doctorates. These are located on the master level. It is the usual professional qualification in subjects such as law, medicine or teaching. In contrast to Germany, these doctoral degrees do not require a separate doctorate.

Doctoral Degree: The Most Renowned

The highest titleThat is what American universities have to award Doctoral Degree. Here, too, a distinction is made between academic doctoral degrees (Doctor of Philosophy) and professional doctoral degrees (Doctor of Business Administration, Doctor of Education).

In the first three to four semesters, students attend seminars and courses (Coursework)in which they familiarize themselves intensively with their research area. Then the dissertationwhich in most cases takes at least three years.

There are now at some universities special master’s programs with a shorter study period. During this time, the students have the opportunity to to prepare for doctoral studies. You can count the study time towards the first phase of the Ph.D program.

Study requirements: Studies in the USA

The US Universities decide autonomously the admission requirements for the course. As a rule, they require international applicants to provide references, a résumé, and letters of recommendation and motivation.

In principle, the universities attach great importance to the formal and stylistic correctness of the documents. If you decide to study abroad in the USA, you should therefore plan enough time for your application.

Study achievements and language skills

Depending on the type of study, students must expect different admission requirements:

  • Bachelor: Abitur, sometimes also technical college entrance qualification
  • Associate: Secondary school leaving certificate plus vocational training or work experience at some Community colleges
  • master: Bachelor's degree, usually also diploma and master’s degree
  • promotion: Master’s degree, possibly also a diploma or master’s degree

Since the three-year German bachelor's degree is on average one year shorter than the American one, many universities require this Proof of the achievements made in the course. On the basis of these, they assess whether the financial statements are to be regarded as equivalent. In the case of graduate programs, too, the university decides on a case-by-case basis whether the applicant's respective qualifications are sufficient.

To study in the US, applicants must have their diplomas alongside sufficient knowledge of English prove. This usually takes the form of a standardized language test such as the IELTS or TOEFL.

Additional tests can be added to some programs. Be in it Expertise as well as the linguistic and mathematical skills of the applicants. These academic study aptitude tests include the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

It is easier to start the semester abroad

Compared to a full degree, the application process for a semester abroad in the USA is uncomplicated. Especially the flexible ones Open semester- or Study AbroadPrograms are characterized by simplified approval process out. Applicants have access to almost all courses offered by the university for one to two semesters. As a rule, a university entrance qualification and sufficient knowledge of English are sufficient to be admitted to the course.

Costs and financing options USA

Studying in the USA is generally subject to a fee. Since the universities and Colleges decide autonomously on the amount of the tuition fees depending on university, place of study and course of study different heights. The average annual tuition fee for international students is US $ 12,000 to 16,000.

The cost of living is added to the tuition fees. These also vary depending on where you live. Accommodation in a dormitory on campus costs an average of US $ 1,000 per month.

How to finance a degree in the USA?

When deciding for or against studying in the USA, the cost factor plays a significant role. Fortunately, there are a number of financing options that can at least partially cover the relatively high costs:

Foreign BAföG for studying in the USA

International BAföG for a semester abroad in the USA is an attractive option for all students who do not want to complete a full degree in the United States. The international funding includes a grant of up to EUR 4,600 towards the tuition fees for a maximum of one year. In addition, subsidies for flight and living expenses can be added. The BAföG office of the Hamburg Student Union is responsible for all BAföG applications for the USA.

Scholarships for studying USA

Depending on the type, section and duration of the course, students are entitled to various scholarships and funding programs:

  • Fulbright Commission Scholarships
  • Scholarships from private, church and party-affiliated foundations
  • Scholarships: Scholarships from US universities for particularly good master's and doctoral students
  • Fellowships: Financial support for outstanding performance at a US university
  • paid Assistantships: comparable to a position as a research assistant
  • Sports scholarships
  • special scholarships (only) for international students

In addition, it is never wrong to research the DAAD, various foundations or American universities for further funding opportunities.

USA visa and entry requirements

For some years, stricter security measures have been in place for entering the USA as part of a study program. For German citizens, entry is for a maximum of 90 days without a visa possible. However, they must have a valid, machine-readable passport, a return or onward ticket and a electronic entry permit (ESTA) have.

J visa or F visa to study in the United States

A student visa is required to study in the United States. Participants in university exchange programs and interns require the so-called J visa. However, an F-Visa is required to study at a college or university or to take a language course.

The visas include no work permit. Employment of up to 20 hours per week on campus is permitted. You may be able to apply for a limited work permit.

International health insurance USA and vaccination protection

Special vaccinations are not required when visiting the USA. Nevertheless, it makes sense to have the standard vaccination protection refreshed and, if necessary, to be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B. It is also advisable to take out comprehensive international health insurance for the USA.