The American Education System

The American tertiary education system has two aspects that make it different from many post-secondary education systems outside the U.S.

First: General Education

At the bachelor’s degree level, American universities commit to broad education. That means that beyond study in their chosen field (major), students are required to take coursework in a wide range of subjects – typically math, social sciences, humanities, and natural science. These courses, referred to as “General Education” are intended to give students the broad background deemed important to professional and personal growth.

With the general education requirement, most American bachelor’s degrees require 4 years to complete. Note that ATHE centres offer courses that qualify for American general education credit in the United States. This is a huge advantage because it means you can transfer to an American degree program prepared to concentrate on your major.

Second: Accreditation

Unlike other countries, there is no central Ministry of Higher Education in the U.S. To ensure a standard of quality, there is a process called “accreditation.” It is a system for recognizing institutions that have achieved certain standards of academic excellence. The U.S. Department of Education authorizes regional bodies to accredit universities.

The six regional accreditation bodies are:

  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • The Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
  • The Higher Learning Commission (North Central)
  • The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • The Western Association of Schools and Colleges

Regional accreditation is considered the gold standard in the U.S. When your university is regionally accredited, it means your degree is respected by employers and graduate schools throughout the U.S. and the world.

Northwood University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.