Jamaica is affiliated with the University of the West Indies (UWI), which has campuses in Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. This regional institution is headquartered at the Mona campus located in Kingston, Jamaica. The University of Technology (Jamaica Utech), which was previously known as the College of Arts, Science, and Technology (CAST) and received university status in 1995, is Jamaica's only national university.
The University Council of Jamaica (an agency of the MOE&C) serves as the accreditation body for higher education in Jamaica. Three private institutions are recognized and accredited by the University Council: the Jamaica Theological Seminary, which offers a four-year Bachelor of Theology program, the Caribbean Graduate School of Theology, which offers a Master's degree in theology, and the West Indies College/Northern Caribbean University, which offers associate and bachelor's degrees in biological sciences and business studies but will expand its degree programs with its newly-granted university status.
Admission to bachelor's degree programs in government-associated universities (UWI and Utech) requires students to pass in five CXC General Certificate of Education (GCE) subjects, including two or three subjects at the advanced level. (The GCE exams are ordinarily taken at the completion of grade thirteen.) Students may also be admitted with the CXC Secondary Education Certificate (taken after grade eleven) or its equivalent after a preliminary year of probationary study. Some students also elect to attend community colleges where they can earn a two-year degree that can be used to transfer to a university. Foreign students must meet the same requirements (or their equivalents) as Jamaican citizens and must demonstrate competence in English; they must also obtain a visa and present certification of good health from a medical practitioner along with proof of vaccination against yellow fever and diphtheria. At UWI there are limitations on the number of spaces available to non-Jamaicans in engineering, law, and medicine.
Undergraduate degrees (either bachelor's or professional) normally take a minimum of three years of full-time study. Postgraduate study that leads to the master's degree requires two years of study and the submission of a thesis or a research paper, as in the case of professional degrees such as the Master's of Social Work. Medical specialization leading to a master's degree is also offered in a variety of specialties after four years of approved internship. The length of time it takes to obtain a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) varies from program to program but most take three years of study beyond the master's level. A thesis is required. Professional qualifications may be obtained one year after completing certain degrees or qualifications.
The two government-aided universities and the three university-council accredited private institutions draw students from throughout the Caribbean and from around the world. A number of programs, in particular some graduate programs and faculties at UWI, have earned international recognition and serve as magnets for students and scholars in certain areas of study. Many Jamaicans pursue university-level studies abroad, the majority in the USA, Canada, and Great Britain.
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