The U.S. Educational System
More than 4,000 accredited institutions make up higher education in the United States. Unlike many countries, U.S. higher education institutions are not centrally organized or managed, but are accredited on a national or regional level by independent accrediting bodies and thus, the accreditation system of U.S. institutions offering higher education is completely different than in Slovakia. However, it is important for students to know whether the school they apply to is among the accredited ones. To find out if the school or program is accredited please check the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs
A variety of institution types offer higher-education degrees. There are basically three types of institutions that offer higher education in the United States: universities, colleges, and community colleges. Universities offer Bachelor's (undergraduate), Master's, and doctoral studies (graduate).
Universities are the most complex type of institution offering higher education (undergraduate as well as graduate programs). Universities can be state or private. State colleges and universities, also called "public universities," were founded and subsidized by U.S. state governments to provide low-cost education to residents of that state. Public universities generally offer access to research opportunities and classes in a wide variety of fields of study. These universities tend to be very large and generally admit a wider range of students than private universities. Each student's interests will guide his/her choice among the many possibilities.
Four-year colleges often provide Bachelor's degrees, most commonly a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.). They are primarily either undergraduate only institutions (e.g. liberal arts colleges), or the undergraduate institution of a university (such as Harvard College and Yale College).
Community colleges (sometimes called junior colleges or two-year colleges) are another option. They provide two-year associate degree programs, usually called associate of arts (A.A.) or associate of science (A.S.) degrees, as well as technical and vocational programs. As the name suggests, community colleges are community-based institutions with close links to secondary schools, community groups, and employers. Tuition costs are often lower at two-year than at four-year institutions, and many have agreements to allow students on transfer programs to move easily into the third year of a Bachelor’s degree at the local state university. Students also transfer to any other college of their choice without losing the credits earned at a community college.