Academic Calender for U.S.

Academic Calender for U.S.

Newsletter Volume 4, Issue 4                                                                                      

Timeline for U.S. Universities and Test Preparation:

The Academic Calendar for U.S. Universities

The academic year may vary slightly at each university, but typically starts at end of August or early September and continues through the end of April to the end of May.  The year is often divided into two terms of 18 weeks each, called semesters.  Some universities may have “quarters” or “trimesters” which are about 12 weeks in length. 

There are two major holidays in the U.S. during the academic year: a two-to-four-week winter break beginning in mid-December and a one-week spring break during March or April.

In addition, most universities often provide six-to-eight-week summer terms.  These summer classes are optional and vary significantly from classes held during the regular academic year.  Typically summer classes have a smaller number of students, require less class time, and have reduced course requirements.  Attending summer classes is an excellent opportunity for all students to reduce the costs of their overall academic degree so that they can complete their required courses in less time or repeat courses not successfully completed during the regular academic year.

There are over 4,000 accredited in the U.S. to choose from.  If you have completed your education from a recognized school or university in Iran, you can apply to U.S. study.

In the United States, the variety of universities also means there are specific requirements for each university.  Admission requirements and tuition/cost of living will depend on the program, level of study, and the location of the university (state, city).  All U.S. institutions look at your grade point average (GPA) to see if it meets their minimum GPA (moadel) requirement for admission.  Some universities may be more selective than others so compare the GPA requirement with your own to determine if it might be compatible. The second step is to make sure you have the appropriate level of English. You will need to take the TOEFL or IELTS to enter any academic program in the U.S.  Students entering graduate school may also need to take the GMAT (for business), or the GRE general and/or subject test score, depending on the program of study. 

In order not to miss the admission deadline, we suggest that you prepare and register for TOEFL or IELTS at least 6 months before you begin applying.  This is the best way to make sure that your test results are provided to the institutions of your choice on time.  The admission deadlines are typically in December to mid-January for fall entrance of the following year.  In the United States there are no national exams (Concour); however, the admissions committees at universities need to make decisions based on your English language skills, test scores and academic record including your GPA. 

To help you locate universities go to search links.

For cost of living and information about expenses of a  U.S. education, please see our newsletter Volume 3, Issue 2 at:

U.S. Higher Education System:

Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees

Undergraduate studies are programs leading to an associate’s degree (two years) or a bachelor’s degree (four years). To reduce overall costs, many undergraduate students will complete the first half of an undergraduate degree at a two-year community college and then transfer to a four-year public or private institution.

Graduate studies are advanced academic programs leading to a master’s or doctoral degree, typically after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. In the Unites States, students who have a bachelor’s degree can often apply directly to a Ph.D. program.  If you are planning to apply for graduate studies and ultimately to pursue a Ph.D., we recommend applying to the Ph.D. program, or identifying universities which offer the academic program at both the master’s and doctoral levels. To read more about deciding between a master’s degree or Ph.D., see Newsletter 1, Issue 2.

To learn about how you can apply please see:

The Transfer Process: Coming to a U.S. college or university from a university outside of the U.S.

Every year, students from other countries transfer to U.S. degree programs and successfully complete their degrees. Transfers are usually at the undergraduate level and extremely rare at the graduate level.  Additionally, there are very few scholarships for transfer students.

U.S. colleges and universities consider a variety of factors when making decisions about the transfer process.  For example, is your college or university recognized by the Ministry of Education in Iran?  How similar is the content and structure of the courses you have taken to those of the courses they offer?  Are these courses applicable to the degree and the major that you hope to pursue?  This last point is significant because you need to show that you are academically prepared and that your previous classes are relevant to the course of study you wish to pursue. 

The importance of these factors varies among institutions, so be sure to contact both the admissions office and a representative from your academic department of interest.  Remember that courses must first be accepted for transfer credit, and then the specific department in which you wish to study will decide whether or not the courses can be counted toward the requirements for that major.

When applying for a transfer, make sure that you provide the U.S. institution with all of your official academic records.  In addition to your transcript, you should submit course descriptions (translation in English) for all courses taken at the university level.  These descriptions should include: 

·         Summaries or outlines of the major topics covered in each course. Often this information is found in the course syllabus.

·         The number of hours per week that you spent in each class (and in the laboratory, if applicable)

·         The start and end dates of the course (including the day and the year)

Also, it is helpful to prepare a list of required reading and textbooks utilized in the course; this helps the U.S. institution better understand the content and the details of the coursework.

Keep in mind that course credits from some disciplines are more difficult to transfer than those from other disciplines.  For example, professional programs such as engineering, architecture, or journalism often have specific program structures due to various requirements from the accrediting bodies for each respective profession.  On the other hand, programs in the humanities, arts, or social sciences might be able to offer more flexibility in accepting transfer credits. In addition, some U.S. universities might request that you go through a credit evaluation agency to provide them with an equivalency of your previous program of study.


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