In the United States, an undergraduate or an "undergrad" is a student pursuing a bachelor"s degree (usually 4 years) at a college or university or a 2-year associate"s degree program at a college, community college or vocational/technical school. A graduate or a "grad student" is a student who, having obtained a bachelor"s degree, is now pursuing a master"s or "graduate degree" in a 1-6 year graduate school program that is typically completed in 2-3 years.

These concepts are often confused, because the terminology in much of the rest of the world is different. What"s known as undergraduate studies in the US is referred lớn as graduate studies in most other countries. And the equivalent for graduates (graduate students, graduate studies) in the US are known as post-graduates (or post-graduate students, post-graduate studies) in most of the rest of the world.

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Comparison chart

Graduate versus Undergraduate comparison chart
GraduateUndergraduateMeaning (in the U.S.) Course load Tuition Admission Requirements
A graduate program is a 1-6-year college master"s degree program, for someone who already has a bachelor"s degree. An undergraduate program is a 4-year college bachelor"s degree program, or a 2-year associate"s degree program.
4 courses/12 credits per semester/trimester 5-7 courses/15-21 credits per semester/trimester
$30,000+ at public colleges/universities $40,000+ at private colleges/universities $3,000 for associates/2-year degree $9,000+ for 4-year degree, state residents at public colleges/universities $23,000+ for 4-year degree, out-of-state residents at public colleges/universities $31,000+ for 4-year degree, private colleges
Bachelor"s degree, application và fee (per school), GRE chạy thử scores, undergraduate transcript, letters of commendation (may be optional), FAFSA or other financial aid High school diploma, application and fee (per school), SAT test scores, ACT test scores, TOEFL scores (sometimes), high school transcript, letters of recommendation (may be optional), FAFSA or other financial aid

Video Explaining the Differences

Higher Education Programs

In the U.S., graduate students go lớn accredited colleges and universities for 1-6 years (typically 2-3) after earning a bachelor"s degree in order lớn specialize in a field & increase their earning power by receiving a master"s or doctoral degree. General master"s degrees are Master of Arts (MA) & Master of Science (MS or MSc); globally, other more comtháng and specialized degrees include

Master of Education (MEd) Master of Engineering (MEng) Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Master of Music (MMus) Master of Public Administration (MPA) Master of Retìm kiếm (MRes) Master of Theology (Mth)

Undergraduate degrees in the U.S., acquired after completing a 4-year college or university program are Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS or BSc). There are dozens of bachelor"s degree specializations that are called tagged degrees in everything from architecture to lớn information systems, biology lớn English literature, and management to lớn performance (theatrical).

Two-year Associate in Arts (AA or A.A.) also offers dozens of specialties. These degrees are fundamentally geared towards tư vấn positions in a variety of fields including automotive maintenance, early childhood special education, culinary arts, medical assisting, legal office administration, graphic arts, etc.

Outside the U.S.

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While many countries consider U.S. undergraduate degrees to lớn be graduate degrees in their nation, và U.S. graduate degrees to lớn be post-grad citations, degrees earned in the U.S. are widely accepted worldwide as indications of a degreed individuals knowledge, capability and performance value. In fact, almost one million of the 4.5 million international students seeking degrees bởi so in the U.S. because of their value in the world job market.

Admission Requirements

Undergrads pursuing a bachelor"s degree are usually required lớn take the Scholastic Aptitude/Assessment Test (SAT), or the American College Testing (ACT) demo. International students may also have lớn take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Test scores from all of these exams influence the applicant"s choice of schools & chance of being admitted lớn them. Some colleges & universities may require a resume or personal profile và letter(s) of recommendation.

Undergraduates pursuing a two-year community college or vocational/occupational school are required in almost all cases to lớn have a GPA of 2.0, a high school diploma. They may also be asked to take a school"s entrance exam và pass language and communication capability screening.

For graduate school admissions, applicants also have lớn have a bachelor"s degree, &, in most cases, a high grade point average (GPA) in academic achievement. Applicants are almost always required khổng lồ have taken the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) standardized demo and submit test scores withthe application. Also required are the applicant"s undergraduate transcript &, typically, letter(s) of commendation.

Colleges & universities for all degree pursuits expect the applicant to complete a full application (school-specific in most cases), and often include an essay on a topic relevant khổng lồ the applicant"s academic pursuit as well as a personal profile. These applications are submitted with an application fee from $35-$60 on average, although some colleges vị not require a fee and others have a higher one. Most schools also require the applicant lớn apply for financial aid as part of the process; the U.S. Department of Education provides the most comprehensive system online for application: Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


Graduate school admission: 3.0-3.3 GPA minimum Undergraduate school admission: 3.0 GPA average for large selection of school choices, và 3.75 minimum for Ivy League & Top 10 schools Vocational/Occupational 2-year degrees: 2.0 GPA minimum


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