The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest in area. It consists of 50 states with a federal district capital- Washington, D.C. In the short 200-odd year history since its founding, the United States has achieved remarkable development in many areas. The country possesses some of the most advanced minds in the fields of economics, science, information technology, medicine, politics, and entertainment. Perhaps the advancements made in the field of entertainment has contributed most to making the United States the premier study abroad destination for students worldwide.
Another extremely attractive characteristic of the United States is the availability of education regardless of race or nationality. The openness of this system helped the US become one of the first countries to welcome large numbers of international students. After World War II, the US opened up its schools to students predominantly from the war ravaged areas of Europe. Students from the Middle East and Asia quickly followed. Currently the US has over 500,000 international students in its many universities.
Students from around the world flock to the United States for language and academic studies. Statistics show that there are as many as half a million foreign students currently studying in US universities. There are also over 70,000 students entering the US with Study visas attending language programs (this number does not include the informal short term students). Among the ESL students, Japanese number the most, followed by students from Korea, Taiwan, Brazil, Thailand, Italy, and Switzerland. More than half of the total is accounted for students from Asia. In cities, such as Los Angeles and New York, which are particularly popular among foreign students, half of the students in any one class may be from the same country.
The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) is the public university system of the Commonwealth, with 14 state-owned schools. The Commonwealth System of Higher Education is organizing body of the 4 state-related schools in Pennsylvania, these schools are independent institutions that receive some state funding. There are also 15 publicly funded two-year community colleges and technical schools that are separate from the PASSHE system. Additionally there are many private two- and four-year technical schools, colleges and universities.
Carnegie Mellon University, The Pennsylvania State University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Pittsburgh, are members of the Association of American Universities, an invitation only organization of leading research universities. The Pennsylvania State University is the Commonwealth's Land-grant university, Sea Grant College and, Space Grant College. The University of Pennsylvania, located in Philadelphia, is considered the first university in the United States and established the country's first medical school. The University of Pennsylvania is also the Commonwealth's only, and geographically the most southern, Ivy League school. The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts is the first and oldest art school in the United States. Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, now a part of University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, was the first pharmacy school in the United States.