Similar to Germany, a certain number of points (credits) are required for a degree from a US university. Students receive this through participation in courses and the grades (grades) accumulated during the course of their studies.
The grades of the individual subjects are related to the hours per week in the semester. While in the US the number of issued credits by the duration of the course depends (Contact Hours), the European Credit Transfer System ECTS is based on work done student workload (workload). Since every university in Germany has its own evaluation system, there is no uniform regulation for the conversion and recognition of credits.
However, as a rule of thumb, the conversion formula applies:
2 ECTS points = 1 US credit point
Alternatively, at some universities 2 US credit points are equated with 3 ECTS points.
Grades in the United States are given in letters rather than numbers. Each letter corresponds to a certain percentage and is noted in the transcript. Some universities also use plus and minus signs to mark good and bad performance.
Grade point average in the US: the GPA
The GPA (Grade Point Average) is an integral part of the grading system in the USA, a country located in North America according to countryvv. It is the grade point average that American universities often determine after each semester, but at the latest at the end of the course.
The GPA is mostly calculated using a four-point scale. It provides information on the overall grade after graduation.
The grading system in the USA is not uniform and there is no generally applicable method for calculating the grade point average. However, the following overview from the US-UK Fulbright Commission shows the most common clefs in the USA:
|Letter grade||Percentage||Grade Point Average|
To determine the GPA, the numerical values of the grades for each course are added up, for example four points for an A, two points for a C. The resulting sum is divided by the total number of courses taken and ultimately results in the GPA.
Students typically get grades in the 80-100% range. This is considered a good achievement on the US grading system.
The grading system in the USA and the types of exams
Since the study system in the United States is a lot more academic than in Germany, this also has an impact on the grading system in the United States. So flow to the final rating a range of services that must be provided during the semester by the students. This includes homework, projects and one or more term papers. In addition to the final exam at the end of the semester, intermediate exams are common in almost every course, the so-called midterm exams.
As a rule, the final exam is less extensive than in Germany, as the students have to complete various academic achievements during the semester. In some courses, however, there is no exam at the end of the year. Instead, the teachers assign homework every day and write tests (quizzes) on a regular basis.
Notes for international students on the US grading system
In order for international students to be issued the F1 visa to study in the United States, they must study in the United States as a full-time student. The status of full-time student in the USA is linked to the following requirements:
- In the undergraduate area: participation in courses with a minimum of 12 credit hours per term. This is usually the equivalent of four courses.
- In the graduate area: The required number of credits varies from university to university and depends on the respective study program. Master’s students usually have to take a minimum of 8 or 9 credits per term, but at some universities up to 12 credits.
Students in Germany normally acquire 30 ECTS points in one semester. This guideline usually also applies to a semester abroad in the USA. The minimum number of 12 credits that full-time undergraduate students in the USA must achieve, however, corresponds to only 24 ECTS points according to the current conversion formula. This means that the required number of ECTS points per semester is not achieved. For this reason, many students attend an additional course on site. This gives them 16 credit hours, which in turn corresponds to the equivalent of 32 ECTS points.
Important: Before starting their stay abroad, students should consult their home university about the recognition of the study achievements abroad as well as the exact conversion of the acquired credits into ECTS points. This is the only way to meet the requirements for a smooth recognition process.