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Some questions

  1. Feb 22, 2005 #1
    Hi there brothers. Got two questions

    1) How does the university system in the USA work? I've read some terms: GPA, grad, undergrad, bachelor, masters and so on, I am getting some little idea. Also, how much time does any stage takes (theoretically) to complete every stage? Is it full day classes? Are the subjects equivalent in every US university? differences between state and privated ones? Any explanation is really welcome

    2) Im am starting a short technical career (3 yr. and a lower degree than university) in electronics at night. I work all the day and my wife is unemployed. No kids yet. Did anyone go through similar situation? I'd like to hear your experiences, on how to cope with family and study
    (already read https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=63732)

    All the best
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2005 #2


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    Some quick answers:
    GPA = grade point average. Generally, on a scale of 0 to 4, where a 4.0 would represent straight A's (highest marks) and a 0 complete failure. Not all schools are completely equivalent about how they assign GPA. For example, in some schools, if you take honors level classes, they might weight an A as higher than a 4.0 to reflect the increased difficulty of the classes.

    Undergrad is short for undergraduate, which refers to students in a university working on their bachelor's degree (we use college and university interchangeably for the most part when referring to educational levels, although there are distinctions based on the size, focus on research vs teaching, and higher degrees offered). We use the designations B.A. or B.S. for this degree (Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences, respectively). This is usually a 4 year program, though a few degrees require 5 years.

    Graduate degrees or graduate schools refer to programs for obtaining one's Master's (M.S.) or doctorate (Ph.D.) degrees. The master's degree can take between 1 and 3 years depending on whether a thesis is required (some are just advanced classes, and some are research oriented). The Ph.D. is on average about 5 to 6 years of education (you're done whenever you're done; this is research based, so depending on success on your project, can take more or less time).

    The degrees can be obtained in order of B.S. (or B.A.), M.S., Ph.D, or you can skip the M.S. and go directly to the Ph.D.

    Not all universities offer all subjects of study. Different universities also have different strengths and weaknesses based on the qualifications of their faculty and areas their faculty focus on for their research. However, there isn't all that much variation in introductory level classes. Rather, the differences become more apparent in the advanced level courses. State vs private school simply refers to the source of funding. State schools are partially funded by the government, so tuition is usually lower. Private schools are privately funded, and are usually more expensive to attend. As for quality, the source of funding really doesn't impact that much, although the handful of the most prestigious universities are privately funded. But, it's variable. There are excellent state-funded schools, and not-so-excellent private schools, and vice versa.
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