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    This is my first post so, sorry if anything i ask has already been answered.

    I've finished my IGCSE's recently and am about to begin my AS and A levels this September. I've chosen the three sciences and math, and what i hope to major in are these particular qualities:
    Computer engineering such as assembling and repairing computers.
    Computer programming such as developing advanced 3D physics simulated video games.
    Network and system security such as what penetration testers and "White hat" or ethical hackers do.

    These are all the skills i wish to acquire and work with for most my life. However I want to do this in an American University/College in my home city (Houston, Texas). Since I did pretty much my whole high school career in a British curriculum, I apparently have to do SAT and/or ACT exams for entry into them. One question is will they accept an A/AS level exam as substitute? If not then I'll have to do another set of exams (SAT/ACT).

    Also, with these fields I want to study in, is there a single class/course i can do for a few years that covers them, or do i have to take multiple courses if i wanted to practice them?

    Also how long would it take to complete the course then to take a masters/PhD in those subjects?

    I'm pretty confused and need some guidance, so any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks
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    To enter most American universities, you will have to take the SAT/ACT as well as 2 SAT subject tests (I personally recommend taking 3). That is because American high school exams are not standardised, so a form of standardising knowledge is required.

    Since I have no knowledge at all of the fields you're interested in, I can only offer a general answer to your question about courses. Most courses address only one specific topic. You'd call them a module at a UK uni. From the *sound* of it, what you've mentioned sounds more like a group of topics. Hence I believe you might be required to take more than one course.

    I'm curious as to why you're restricting yourself to Houston, but from a quick Google search there are 4 unis in Houston - U of Houston, U of Houston Clear Lake, U of Houston Downtown, and Texas Southern University. I suggest you go to each of their websites, check out a course catalogue (readily available on most uni websites) and see if you'll need to take a single course or multiple courses

    A Bachelor's degree in the US in any field is 4 years long. Most Masters degrees in Computer Science are 2 years long. A PhD in most cases takes between 4 and 6 years to complete. You should first decide whether you want to do a Masters and work, or a Masters and then a PhD (then academia), or a PhD straight (then academia) away since some universities allow you to enter a PhD programme right after your Bachelor's degree. Furthermore, there are quite a few differences between a Master's degree and a PhD.
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    Wow, ok. Thanks! Now when you say we don't have "standardized tests", I agree, but what if i took something like the IGCSE's and an AS/A level test, wouldn't those scores be standardized? I'm just curious about that bit really, I'd do anything to squirm my way out of a waste of time, but I'm willing to take them.

    Also Houston is my home city, so I feel like I'd be more comfortable there and since it's the place I'm most familiar with, I was just wondering if I could find what I wanted here.

    Also, PhD's take 4 years after you finished the bachelors? Damn. OK. I really hope I can find it all in a single course so i dont end up doing like, 2 decades of studying =P.

    I've no idea how it'll work but I hope to find a course in computer programming that also offers system and network security in the course, work for a while, maybe get a masters and then get a degree in computer engineering if it isn't already partially part of a course.
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    Yes, IGCSE and A-levels are both standardised but not every applicant takes those. They still wouldn't be able to compare you to American applicants. They use your school grades to see how you stand within your own school.

    Ah all right. My advice with the US would be not to limit yourself geographically and thus compromise on quality of education. The best universities for computer science (Carnegie Mellon, Stanford, MIT, Berkeley, UCLA etc) are all located elsewhere but again it's up to you

    Haha yes they do.

    As I mentioned, first decide whether you want to work in academia or not. If you do, many years spent studying is a unavoidable part of your career. If not, then a Masters degree or PhD may not help anyway. Many CS-related jobs only require a Bachelor's degree.

    Here is a list of all Computer Science courses offered at Berkeley. You may not be able to take ALL (that's determined when you enter Berkeley by your general education requirements, major requirements, required credits etc) but this should give you a fair idea of whether they offer your courses or not. Look through it: http://bulletin.berkeley.edu/courses/compsci/

    Also try Google searching things like "UCLA list of courses offered" or "UCLA course catalogue". You can find the list of courses, a.k.a. course catalogue, of that university so you can decide whether it suits your wants
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    I'm going to be honest i do have a Carnegie Melon in this country (Qatar), it's one of the many well known colleges that the country had built for education purposes.

    And yes I know I sound stupid now for wanting to move to Houston, but personally the country has worse traffic than LA, it gets up to 130F/ or somewhere around 40-50 C in the summer, and its pretty much hell compared to anywhere else. Also it's much more expensive than its counterparts. This is in the country I currently finished my IGCSE and am about to do my A levels in. It would be easier to just stay but I heard I had an option to do my first year of A levels then I could run off and apply to college if I wanted.

    It's fair to say I'm a bit confused whilst writing this. My only question is, do these big and well known schools (MIT, Carnegie etc) really have better quality of education than places like UH or Rice Uni? Or is it the same thing for an inflated price? I'm sure that's not the case but I'm still wondering what makes them so special.
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    You won't get the same quality of education at a satellite campus like CMU Qatar or NYU Abu Dhabi.

    Haha I am familiar with Qatar. I'm from India, I know enough people in the Gulf

    No I've never heard of them allowing anyone to do only AS and not A2. I'm quite sure that's impossible.

    There are some things they have a huge advantage in:

    1. Better students: since they're well-known, they get the very best. That's a great learning environment to be in. Having been in such a school myself and then changed schools, I can tell you what a huge difference there is.

    2. Better professors to some extent: quite a few professors will be better but this is a slightly less important factor since you usually don't have contact time with your professors other than in lectures.

    3. More opportunities to research with the world's leading experts at the undergrad level: do I need to say more?

    4. Better resources: it's a virtuous cycle. They've been at the top for so long that they get better students, thus better alumnus endowments, thus better students still and better facilities...

    5. Opportunities: since the colleges are so reputed it's easier for their students to find work experience, which from experience is invaluable
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    Ah alright, thanks.

    What I meant by doing only one year of AS is for American Colleges since A levels arent even a big deal there. Of course if i wanted to enter an english uni i would need A levels.

    I personally would not be a huge fan of spending another four years after the 1 or 2 of A levels here in the gulf. Yes they have a Carnegie here and it's tempting but my life is in Houston, or I'd much rather it to be.

    I was told if I started my courses in a college here, i could be able to transfer halfway through the course to another uni somewhere else.

    I'll look at the courses you sent in the previous message and try to get my head around things. Thanks for the help =]
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    Um yeah sure you could transfer after your first year and maybe even your second year but you're not guaranteed admission at that point so things could go south

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