Levels of College Degrees You Should Know

If you are graduating from high school sometime soon and are planning on starting college, you need to be aware of the levels of college degrees that are available, the eligibility criteria for each, and what degree is suitable for you according to your past education and future preferences.

Universities and colleges offer degrees of different levels ranging from associate degrees to doctoral programs. Within this range of postsecondary education, there are basically four levels of college degrees: associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Earning any of these degrees can take around 2 to 8 years, depending upon the level of the degree and the major you choose. Each of these degrees has its own set of prerequisites. Especially in the case of graduate level programs, the students are required to have completed one or more undergraduate programs prior to enrollment.

Let’s take a look at these 4 major levels of college degrees you should know about when deciding your future education plans:

Associate Degrees

Associate degrees are typically 2-year programs that are designed to provide students with a basic grasp on the topics covered. Their main aim is to prepare students for entry level positions in various fields such as nursing, designing, education and so on. Some people use this degree as the starting point of their careers while others use it as a stepping stone towards a higher degree level such as a bachelor’s degree.

There are a number of different types of degrees available. The A.A.S. is an “Associate of Applied Science” degree that is ideal for those students who are certain about transferring to a 4-year bachelor’s degree. This particular type of associate degree is also sometimes referred according to the specific occupation, such as Associate in Business, Associate in Information Technology and so on. The second type is the A.S. or Associate of Science degree which is designed to be transferrable to a bachelor degree as well. Another type is the Occupational Degree, which is basically an associate program aimed at getting students immediate placements upon completion.

The general educational requirements for an associate degree are a high school diploma or equivalent qualification. You can also complete this degree online.

Bachelor’s Degrees

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate level program that typically takes around 4 years to complete. These can be completed in a huge variety of majors including education, information technology, pharmacy, healthcare administration, nursing, engineering, arts, architecture, business and management, aviation, fine arts, film and television, journalism, philosophy, psychology, law, math, tourism, music, liberal arts and so on. A bachelor’s degree is a sufficient amount of education and preparation for most career fields, which is why students are prepared to take positions in the job market as soon as they graduate. However, higher positions in some fields such as psychology and pharmacy might require a postgraduate degree.

There are five types of bachelor’s degrees that students have the option of selecting. A B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) is considered the widest bachelor’s degree. A Bachelor of Science (B.S.) typically covers majors such as engineering, accounting, physics, accounting, finance or any other sciences. A B.F.A (Bachelor of Fine Arts) is designed for professional actors, singers, dancers, painters and other such artists. This degree is also offered in fields such as web design and digital media. The B.B.A (Bachelor of Business Administration) covers courses in management such as strategy, organizational psychology and decision making. And the B.Arch. (Bachelor of Architecture) is a necessary component for aspiring architects.

Master’s Degrees

A Master’s Degree is a graduate program that can take between 1 and 2 years to complete. It allows students to specialize in one area of studies. A Master’s degree requires students to have completed an undergraduate program and most universities have a minimum GPA requirement as well, along with an entrance exam such as the GRE. To be able to graduate successfully from a master’s degree, you require a thesis or capstone project, the nature of which will depend on the college you are enrolled in.

There are several different types of Master’s degrees. The M.A. (Master of Arts) or the M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts) degrees can cover a wide range of topics such as social sciences, communication and education. A M.S. (Master of Science) can be earned in a variety of science and social science programs. The M. Res. (Master of Research) trains individuals in carrying out research. M.Phil. (Master of Philosophy) is a research only degree and often leads to a PhD. The L.L.M. is a Master of Laws that takes nearly 2 to 4 years to complete and gives lawyers the opportunity to specialize. The M.B.A (Master of Business Administration) is designed for management professionals with some experience.

Doctoral Degrees

Also known as PhD programs, these are the most advanced form of degrees available. Some colleges might require applicants to have completed a master’s degree to enter into this level of education while a lot of colleges accept bachelor’s degree holders as well. Additional requirements for acceptance into a doctoral degree program may include letters of recommendation and standardized test scores.

There are different types of doctorate degrees. The PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is a research focused doctorate program. The M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) is the most advanced degree there is for medical students and is a requirement for professional practice of medicine. The Ed. D. (Doctor of Education) is the highest degree level in the field of education and often leads to positions in research and academics. The J.D. (Juris Doctor) is the typically pursued degree by prospective lawyers in the United States.

In a world full of stiff competition for jobs and degrees, having a good understanding of the options available to you will certainly assist you in making better and well-informed choices. Be sure to check the individual college’s requirements and eligibility criteria before you apply to any of their programs.


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