Types of College Degrees

When thinking about college degrees, you may only think about the classic bachelor’s degree you earn at a four-year university. However, there are all different types out there! Read on to learn more:

Certificate Programs

Undergraduate certificate programs are short-term training programs that prepare students for immediate employment. You can find these programs at community colleges, universities, and career schools. You must have a high school diploma or GED to qualify. Other requirements for admission will depend on the school and area of study you choose. The entire program usually takes a year to complete. Learn more about certificate programs by reading this article!

Associate’s Degrees

This 2-year degree is offered by community colleges, career colleges, and some four-year colleges. It’s required to have a high school diploma or GED. Many of the programs prepare students to enter the workforce straight away. In other cases, students transfer to a four-year institution after completing their Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS).

Bachelor’s Degrees

Generally, students take 4 or 5 years to complete this program at a college or university.  A high school diploma or GED is a prerequisite to enrollment. A Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) are the most common degrees that students pursue. Other types include a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS). Students are required to choose a major area of study. Upon graduation, many students choose to enter the workforce right away. For some fields such as physical therapy or speech pathology, you may be required to pursue additional education.

Master’s Degrees

To earn a master’s degree, you need to have a bachelor’s degree. It ordinarily takes 1-2 years to complete this kind of program. This type of degree is more advanced, and allows students to specialize in their area of study. Additionally, students are typically required to complete a thesis, capstone project, or comprehensive exam before graduating. Upon graduation, students qualify for job positions at an advanced or executive-level.

Doctoral Degrees

A doctoral degree is the highest level you can earn. To pursue a doctoral degree, you need a master’s degree. (Though there are some programs that accept students with only a bachelor’s). You can expect to be in school for at least 2 years. Most doctoral programs require a major research project and dissertation. For many students with ambitions to become lawyers and doctors, there are specialized doctoral programs for those topics of study. 

When mapping your academic path, we recommend figuring out your ultimate goal and working backwards. For example: If you want to be an MD (Doctor of Medicine), you should check out the medical school admissions requirements. Then, plan your bachelor’s degree with those requirements in mind. By understanding the different types of degrees out there, you can choose the academic path that will serve you best.