Structure of American Public Higher Education
There are three main levels of higher education. The first level consists of two–year schools called community or junior colleges. These types of institutions award two certificates: an Associates of Science which is usually a vocational–oriented program, and an Associates of Arts which allows those students to transfer to the next level. In recent years, some community or junior colleges have started offering 4–year degrees but these opportunities are somewhat limited. The second level is comprised of 4–year institutions that offer Bachelor's Degrees. There are 12 state schools in Florida that offer a variety of 4–year programs leading to a Bachelor's Degree. This part of the educational system is often called "undergraduate education." Some of you will elect to continue your education beyond the bachelor level by attending a graduate or professional school and earn a Master's Degree, a doctorate, or a degree in law or medicine. These represent the third level of higher education.
By electing to enter Florida State University you have chosen to begin your academic career at a state, research extensive institution. These tend to be large institutions with both an undergraduate and a graduate component. The undergraduate program represents the teaching function of the university. In graduate school, the focus shifts from teaching to research and the creation of new knowledge.