A “pathway” is a special programme designed for international students to allow them to prepare for and enter mainstream education. In the US this is still quite a new concept. There are 2 types of pathway programmes: on-campus pathways, offered within universities, and special degree transfer programmes offered by Community Colleges.


On-Campus Pathways: these are alternative Year One programmes designed for international students who need to improve their English, Study Skills and also sometimes their academics before joining the mainstream Year 2 at a US 4-year university.

Pathways are mostly provided by private companies working in cooperation with the universities, which allow them to teach on their campus. In some cases, the pathway is taught on one campus but gives access to a wide range of universities within that state university system or in that area.

Undergraduate pathways can be joined directly by students who have completed 12 years of schooling in their own country and do not require SAT scores or the Common Application system.

A few universities are now running their own international pathway courses in parallel with the regular programmes.

Some universities/pathway providers  also offer a Masters pathway, which may be a pre-Masters preparation programmes or an international pathway designed to replace part of the regular 2 year programme. These are accessible to students who have completed at least a 3 year university or College programmes in Vietnam, although the specific entry criteria will depend on each university.

Pre-sessional English courses are available for all students who do not yet meet the English requirements of their pathway programme.

The main private on-campus pathway providers in the US are INTO, Navitas, Kaplan and the Cambridge Education Group’s OnCampus system, but new providers are appearing all the time.


Degree Transfer Programmes:

It has always been possible and popular for both US and international students to attend 1 or 2 year Community College Diplomas / Associate degrees and then transfer to a 4 year university. The main difficulty, however, for international students has been in working out their best route through the College system in order to apply to their preferred university, and getting a guarantee of admission.


There are now a number of guided Degree Transfer programmes which do the hard work for them and guarantee admission to certain partner universities. The main advantages of these programmes are:

  1. Students can apply directly from Vietnam and do not need SATs.
  2. They have a dedicated tutor who will make sure they study the right number of credits and work towards a specific goal.
  3. They can enter even Top 100 universities from these programmes.
  4. Accommodation is provided in special residences on or close to the campus with free transportation.
  5. Students have a range of guaranteed options for progression, or they can apply to any university at all in the US.
  6. Fees are lower than at 4 year universities so they can save money on the first 1 or 2 years.


The main degree transfer providers for Vietnamese students are American Honors and University Bridge. Students must meet the academic and English requirements of these programmes before they can apply.

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