Universities in Virgin Islands, U.S.

Universities in Virgin Islands, U.S. by City:

St. Thomas

About universities in Virgin Islands, U.S.

The Virgin Islands of the United States, commonly referred to as the U.S. Virgin Islands, are a small group of islands in the Caribbean that are officially a territory of the United States.  Geographically, they are a component of the Virgin Islands archipelago and are located in the Leeward Islands of the Lesser Antilles.  Once called the Danish West Indies, the United States purchased this western section of the Virgin Islands from the Dutch as a provision of the Treaty of the Danish West Indies, and the reason the distinction “United States” is made when describing this portion of the Virgin Islands is because, currently, England owns the eastern section of the Virgin Islands, usually referred to as the British Virgin Islands.

There are three main islands that comprise the U.S. Virgin Islands, Saint Croix, Saint John and Saint Thomas, along with several minor islands that are much smaller in size.  The total land area of this United States territory is a mere 133.73 square miles, and of its population of nearly 110,000, most residents are of Afro-Caribbean descent.

Tourism, as you might suspect, is the number one industry in the U.S. Virgin Islands, but the country also has a large manufacturing base as well as several other less important industries.  To ensure the territory has a sufficient number of qualified workers to support the islands’ economy, higher education is available to all individuals who successfully complete the primary and secondary levels of education.

The system of higher education in the United States Virgin Islands is patterned after the education system in the United States.  In terms of management, the system is administered and overseen by the Department of the Interior, which works with school administrators and faculty in the development of policy and curriculum.  In total, the territory spends approximately 7.5 percent of its Gross National Product on education, most of which comes from United States taxes that are paid locally and remain on the island.
There is one main public university in the U.S. Virgin Islands, with campuses on St. Croix and St. Thomas.  There are also a handful of technical institutes and vocational training schools offering programs leading directly to professional and non-professional careers.  At the university, students have a wide range of program options from which to choose, offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees in most academic fields.  Like the United States and now most of Europe, the system is essentially structured into three-tiers, consisting of Bachelor, Master, and Doctorate-level degrees, with a standardized number of credits needed to graduate at each level.
Bachelor degree programs generally span four to five years, and include a combination of general and specialized education.  In the general education portion, also called the freshmen and sophomore years, students are required to earn a specific number of units/credits throughout a spectrum of courses that includes mathematics, language arts, science, etc.  During that time students will choose a Major—a specific academic subject or field—on which they will concentrate for the final two years of the Bachelor program.
At the Master’s Degree level students will continue to pursue specialized studies, albeit more advanced, in the subject of their Major or a closely related field.  These programs generally take 2-3 years to complete and culminate with either a comprehensive exam or a thesis that students must produce and defend to the faculty.
Doctorate or PhD-level courses in the U.S. Virgin Islands are very limited and open only to those students with a strong record for demonstrating academic excellence.  These programs, which typically take 3-6 years to complete, involve advanced studies and research in one or more fields approved by the university.

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