When we refer to “undergraduate study” we are usually talking about a bachelor’s degree programme.
There are two types of undergraduate degrees in the US – an Associate’s degree and a Bachelor’s degree:
An Associate’s degree is a two-year degree awarded by technical, community or junior colleges. The two types are Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Sciences (AS)
Associate’s degrees are usually very practical and offer advanced training in technical areas, such as business occupations, data processing, nursing, engineering technology, interior design and medical assistance.
A Bachelor’s degree is a four or five-year degree awarded by colleges or universities, e.g. Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
To receive a bachelor’s degree, you must generally:
Some universities have additional requirements, such as a thesis written during the final year of study or a final research project.
In the US, medicine and law are not offered as undergraduate majors. You must complete a bachelor’s degree in another field first before you can apply to law or medical school. There are no required majors for students planning to attend law or medical school, although some colleges offer “pre-law” or “pre-medicine” programmes.
Admission requirements vary depending on the university. Some institutions are very selective while others accept most applicants. In general, the following four factors will be key in the assessment of your application:
Unfortunately there is no single definitive source on financial aid for undergraduate study in the US. A good starting point for your financial aid search is at Fulbright New Zealand’s library where we have a number of books listing sources of financial aid for undergraduate study in the US. The Institute of International Education’s Funding for US Study website is an extensive database of scholarships, fellowships and grants.
Undergraduate study in the US is expensive and financial aid for international undergraduate students is limited. Very few schools give total financial aid packages and they are more inclined to give partial financial aid (generally 25-30% of the total cost) to students who will be able to contribute something toward the cost of their own education. The primary source of financial support for over 65% of international undergraduate students is personal and family funding.
Don’t leave your search for financial aid until too late! Applications for many scholarships and financial aid programmes close as much as a year before the money will actually be available.
Many universities don’t actively publicise what limited financial aid they may offer to avoid being swamped with applications. Assistance from universities varies from year to year and from institution to institution.
Athletically talented students may wish to pursue athletic scholarships for their undergraduate study in the US. This is a good way for top high school athletes to help pay for their undergraduate education as well as to compete at a higher level in their chosen sport.
New Zealand high school student Timo Feeney-Toebes discusses his experience of planning to undertake undergraduate university study in the United States of America in this video:[embed width=620]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TbKDf1GKFhk[/embed]