Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) degrees are usually four years in length. Bachelor’s degrees in the US follow the liberal arts philosophy described below and generally include core required courses, a major and electives.
To graduate, students will generally be required to complete a number of credits or credit hours set by the university or department. A credit hour can roughly be thought of as the number of hours a student is in the classroom per week. Most Bachelor's degrees are created such that a student can expect to complete the required credits within four years. However, it is possible to complete the degree earlier by taking classes during summer school, receiving advanced standing for A-levels and/or taking extra classes during the semester or summer. Please note questions regarding advanced standing should be directed to the department in which the student will study, after you have been admitted.
"Liberal arts" is a shortened form of the phrase, "liberal arts and sciences". The liberal arts philosophy is a unique feature of the US higher education system. This concept promotes a well-rounded academic education that develops the student's verbal, written and reasoning skills. It is a real benefit to those who don't know what they want to major in. Also, with today's changing economy, it is likely that you will have a job that's not even been heard of or created yet, so it's great to keep your options open! Students begin their degree study by taking classes in a wide variety of courses in the arts, humanities, languages and the social and physical sciences. They then choose a field in which to specialize, usually around the end of their first year or during their second year, and take about one half of their classes in their major area.
As a general rule, US universities will expect to see a similar type of qualification and results as British universities of a similar level of prestige and competitiveness.
As a minimum requirement for four-year Bachelor's degrees, you should have completed at least five GCSEs at grade C or above (or five Scottish Standard Grades), including English and Math, plus be completing or have completed a post age 16 qualification. The most competitive universities will expect to see three A-Levels or their equivalent. This could include a minimum of three Scottish Highers, A-Levels alongside the Welsh Baccalaureate, the IB or Pre-U.
The slightly less competitive Bachelor's programs are likely to accept the BTEC. The Edexcel website provides a list of some of the universities that accept the BTEC. Additionally, some institutions, particularly two-year or community colleges, will accept students with other UK qualifications, such as GNVQs, GSVQs, HNCs or HNDs.
If you have only completed your GCSEs, you may wish to apply for a two-year Associate program at a community college, which will give you the option to transfer to a four-year Bachelor's program in a 2+2 arrangement.
A four-year Bachelors degree following a liberal arts philosophy will typically include the following types of classes:
Core courses provide the foundation of the degree program and are required of all students. Students take a variety of courses in mathematics, English, humanities, physical sciences and social sciences.
A major is the subject in which a student chooses to concentrate. Your major courses represent one third to one half of the total number of courses required to complete a degree.
Most students major in one subject. However, the flexibility of the liberal arts curriculum provides students the option of pursuing a double major. Double majors allow students to complete the full major degree in both subjects, usually within four years.
A minor is a subject in which a student may choose to take the second greatest concentration of courses. The number of courses required for a minor tends to be one-third the number for a major in the same subject.
Elective courses may be chosen from any department. They offer opportunities to explore other topics or subjects you may be interested in and help make up the total number of credits required to graduate.
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