Which subjects are compulsory at US colleges

Information on the topic: Studying in the USA

Particularities when studying in the USA

At American universities, the students are looked after individually: For each department there is an adviser who helps with all student questions. The foreign student adviser helps foreign students.

  • The timetable has electives and requirements, i.e. elective and compulsory subjects
  • The level of knowledge of the students is regularly checked in seminars and lectures. Attendance is compulsory for every event.
  • The number of participants for the individual seminars is small: usually a maximum of 30 people.
  • Term papers must be submitted every few weeks in many courses and lectures.
  • There is often the opportunity to visit discussion sections: Similar to the tutorials accompanying the lectures in Germany, the subject matter is reviewed again with the professor's assistants.
  • At American universities, it is not customary to change universities while studying.
  • The student residences are closed during the semester break.


At some colleges, the curriculum with its compulsory subjects mathematics, physics, history and politics in the first two years of the German high school is similar. Sometimes, however, only areas are prescribed from which you can then select sub-areas.

Academic year length

An academic year lasts from the end of August to the end of May, i.e. nine, and is divided into semesters, trimesters or quarters. There is an interruption of the courses for about two weeks during the Christmas holidays and for about one week during the Easter holidays.

Semester / Terms

Most universities have the same semester system that is common in Germany, but there are also some universities that have trimesters or quarters.

Forms of instruction

Lectures: Lectures with compulsory attendance and intensive preparation and follow-up. The grading results from regular performance tests and homework. Teaching materials are exercise books and reading lists are used here.
Seminars: Discussion seminars on special problems and questions for advanced students or graduates with a maximum of 15 participants. As a conclusion, an exam lasting several hours (essay question) must be written.
Laboratories: Laboratory courses for scientists.
Fieldwork: Excursions, school and professional internships.

Evaluation: credit and grading system

In order to get a degree, students must have a certain amount of credits. The college catalog determines the number of credits. Credits correspond to the number of hours per week. For example, a four-hour event brings "four credit hours". On average, American students take 16 hours per week per semester and receive 16 credits for this. A grading / points system is used at American universities to grade examination results.

very good 4A.100-91
Well 3B.90-81
average 2C.80-71
insufficient 0F.60-0
incomplete -I.-

Example: A student completes a "four credit hours" seminar with the grade b and receives 12 "credit points" (4 x 3). The certificate is available at the end of the semester: The Grade Report. The courses attended are listed there with "credit hours", "grades", "credit points" and "Grade Point Average".

Study stages

Undergraduate studies
Graduate Studies
Research Doctorate Programs

Professors / lecturers

"Herr Professor" versus "Hi Tom"

In contrast to other countries, the relationship between students and professors is not uniformly regulated in the USA: In addition to followers of the traditional image of professors, there are also professors who appear casually dressed for class and want to be addressed by their first name. In any case, you should first name the title until the professor says how he would like to be addressed. In the area of ​​graduate studies in particular, however, an almost amicable relationship between professors and students is often common.

Consultation hour

At certain times, the professors hold office hours during which the students can informally discuss current projects or problems with them. However, it is also possible to arrange an appointment with the professors outside of office hours.

As at the German universities, you should always be very well prepared for every event, ask questions and express yourself on the topic in a qualified manner in order to attract the professors' attention.

Degrees / Subjects

Bachelor, Master & Co
What degrees are there in the USA? What are the terms behind the abbreviations and how long does it take to get a certain degree?

i Degrees United States

Scholarships for the USA

You should think about financing your studies in the USA in good time. Some organizations give scholarships ...

Scholarships for the USA

Visa for studies in the USA

If you want to study in the USA, you have to apply for a student visa (F / M visa). But how do you do that and which visa do you need to study in the USA?

USA student visa

Find the right university

There are thousands of colleges in the United States. Which ones do your subjects offer? Which are the best colleges in the US? How is the university equipped?

Universities USA

USA health insurance

Foreign students have to pay for their own medical care. Therefore, it is necessary to take out accident and health insurance for the USA.

... international insurance Care College USA

Country information USA

Do you eat the same way in the US as in Europe? How much do you tip in the US? Do the Americans take it seriously when it comes to punctuality?

... USA country & people