United States Higher Education

Higher Education in United States

North America

American universities attract students from all over the world. Education is a major commodity in the United States, and institutions want to attract paying students. There is thus a great deal of competition between the various higher education institutions, and there is not always a correlation between price and quality. In general, it can be said that education in the United States is significantly more expensive than in many other countries. On the other hand, there is great flexibility, as you can change field of study and often transfer credit between the different fields of study and also between the different universities.

Due to the large supply, it pays to study the programs at several different universities. Many universities stand out most strongly in individual academic areas. According to countryaah, United States is one of the three countries in North America; the other two are Canada and Mexico.

American universities are generally very service-minded, and there are e.g. writing workshops with access to PCs 24 hours a day with associated library service. The vast majority of universities also have good sports and leisure facilities.

The academic year usually runs from September to June, usually divided into 2 semesters.


The United States has thousands of higher education institutions, both private and public. Most universities are located on a campus with shops, cafes, concert halls, swimming pools, fire department and student counseling. In many cases, a Foreign Student Adviser is also attached, who is a study advisor for foreign students.

The terms college and university are most often used synonymously in everyday speech. The most well-known types of educational institutions are:

State colleges / universities, which are primarily administered and funded by the individual states.

Private colleges / universities, which are administered and financed privately. Harvard University, founded in 1636, is one of the most prestigious.

Community colleges are local institutions that offer educations adapted to the needs of the local environment. Often, students at community colleges are older and have a different educational background than students at other colleges. Tuition fees at community colleges are usually significantly cheaper than at universities, so many Americans take their first two years of higher education at community colleges.

Professional schools offer vocational studies. They are often departments under larger universities, where one studies e.g. dentist, law and medicine. You must have a bachelor’s degree to be admitted.

Institutes of technology covers areas such as science and technology.

Higher education

The vast majority of students in the United States complete their higher education with a bachelor’s degree, which is the general qualification that provides access to the labor market in the United States. The Master’s degrees are more intended for future researchers and as professional qualification when you have worked for at least a few years. Therefore, many take master’s degree programs part-time while working.

At community colleges you get an Associate Degree after 2 years of study. An Associate Degree will usually give two years of credit for a relevant / related bachelor’s degree. Credit transfer agreements almost always exist between community colleges and the local universities, so in most cases you can with a completed 2-year Associate Degree from a community college enter directly into the third year of a 4-year bachelor’s degree at an American university.

  • Associate Degree, two-year higher education
  • Bachelor’s Degree, BA / BSc (undergraduate level) lasts 4 years. The first 2 years are usually more general studies. The last 2 years are used to specialize. Here you study your electives (majors)..
  • Master Degree (graduate studies) are taken after Bachelor Degree and last between 1-2 years.
  • PhD degree is obtained after a further 3 years or more.

Application for higher education

You must apply directly to the educational institution you want to be admitted to.

There is a big difference in how to write applications and CVs in the USA and Denmark. Americans are generally not modest in their applications, and it is quite common to report personal victories and give in-depth descriptions of their qualifications. There are large differences in the admission requirements at the various universities and colleges. At the highest-ranked educational institutions, such as Stanford University, Yale and MIT, you must have top grades in virtually all subjects from your high school education. In the less prestigious institutions, it is much easier to get into the educations.

Admission is not only based on grade point averages. At the educational institutions where there is a lot of competition to be admitted, one typically has to take entrance exams, such as SAT or ACT.

Read more in the country handbook from the Ministry of Education and Research

The Denmark-America Foundationawards scholarships to students on study stays in the United States.

Fulbright Denmarkoffers scholarships and study guidance in connection with the admission procedures to universities in the USA at undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate level.

Many Danish higher education institutions have agreements on the exchange of students with universities in the USA. To get an exchange place at an American university, you must be enrolled in a Danish educational institution. Most higher education institutions in Denmark have an international office, which distributes the exchange places. Here you can get more information about the possibilities for an exchange place in the USA.

Admission requirements

The entry requirements for higher education depend on whether it is an undergraduate or graduate level.

Bachelor’s degree

A Danish upper secondary education gives access to apply for admission at undergraduate level – bachelor’s programs and associate degrees. With a Danish upper secondary education, you may be able to get some subjects credited and instead take a Bachelor of Arts, BA / Bachelor of Science, BSc of about 3 years. However, it depends entirely on the individual educational institution’s requirements for admission to their programs, as as mentioned, there are differences in the admission requirements for the various institutions, and the individual applicant’s qualifications are assessed individually.

If you want to apply for bachelor’s studies in the USA, you must contact the educational institution directly to receive application forms. Along with the application forms, you will typically need to submit:

  • an English translation of your entrance exam.
  • copy of the tests you have taken. They are most often sent directly from the test institute.
  • recommendations, e.g. from teachers.
  • recommendations and documentation for volunteer work and association work
  • a CV.

Always check the requirements on the institution’s website or by contacting the institution. To avoid multiple application rounds, it is advisable to apply to several institutions at once just like the Americans.

Master’s degree

Admission requirements for master’s programs vary greatly from institution to institution. As a rule, a bachelor’s degree is required in the subject you want to study at master’s level. Some universities require official documentation for the upper secondary education as well as a diploma or official transcript of records for the other higher education.

In many cases, a Danish bachelor’s degree gives admission to the American universities. However, it often still has to be decided on a case-by-case basis, and there are still states that do not accept the 3-year Danish bachelor’s degree program.

Application deadlines

You must contact the individual educational institutions directly for information on application deadlines.

Language proficiency

Almost all foreigners must pass the TOEFL test (Test of English as a Foreign Language) to be admitted to undergraduate and graduate studies. You can read about the test at Fulbright Denmark

Recognition of foreign educations in Denmark

If you have completed a publicly recognized education abroad, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education.

United States Higher Education