What are the 4 Types of College Degrees?

It is possible to categorize college degrees into four different types in the big world of academia:

  • An associate’s degree
  • A bachelor’s degree is required
  • Degree in Master’s Studies
  • Doctoral Degree and Master’s Degree.

Let’s examine the types of college degrees and see how they differ.

Associate’s Degrees

These degrees are two-year programs that prepare students for entry-level jobs in a variety of fields. For transferring to a 4-year college or university. Usually, community colleges offer them and they require 60 credits.

  • The Associate of Arts degree includes courses such as history, mathematics, and English literature.
  • An academic foundation for science fields is an Associate of Science (A.S.). It is typically a transferrable degree rather than an immediate career preparation degree.
  • The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree. These programs are designed for students who wish to enter the workforce immediately after graduation. To give students a more in-depth education in their chosen field, they have specializations or areas of focus.

Bachelor’s Degrees

Colleges and universities award bachelor’s degrees to students. Undergraduate studies culminate in these programs. They provide a well-rounded education and provide a deeper understanding of a field than an associate degree. Bachelor’s degrees typically require four years of work and 120 credits.

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). An undergraduate degree in liberal arts or sciences.
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.). This degree is usually awarded to students with specialized scientific backgrounds, such as those who studied economics or natural sciences. Students receive a B.S. degree based on the school’s decision.
  • The Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree. Students pursuing a degree in the visual or performing arts seek a professional education.
  • A Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degree. Students who study a highly specialized field earn this professional degree.
  • The Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) degree. A Bachelor of Business Administration is also known as a BBA. In most cases, this is a three-year program instead of a four-year program. The program prepares students for careers in business, including entrepreneurship, management, and more.
  • An engineering bachelor’s degree (BE). A Bachelor of Engineering degree can be earned in three to five years. Other names for these degrees include Bachelor of Science Engineering, Bachelor of Engineering Science, and more. From aerospace engineering to civil engineering, these degrees cover a wide range of topics.

Master’s Degrees

Graduate degrees, known as Master’s degrees, are earned by students specializing in a particular field of study. A Master’s degree can only be earned after completing a Bachelor’s degree. 

Graduate schools are more difficult to get into than undergraduate schools. In most cases, students are required to take an exam (GRE), earn around 30 to 50 credits, and complete a thesis paper or capstone project.

  • An M.A. is earned by students who study subjects such as Communication, English, History, Humanities, Social Sciences, and the like. This program may also include mathematics and natural sciences in some schools.
  • Students who earn this graduate degree study sciences, engineering, or medicine.
  • The Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree. Students who study business management and the science behind it earn an MBA degree as a professional graduate degree.
  • An MFA is a master’s degree in fine arts. Graduates of arts programs can earn an MFA in creative writing. You can earn an MFA in creative writing, photography, poetry, theater, and performing arts.

Doctoral Degrees

Doctoral degrees are the highest and most prestigious degrees. These types of college degrees prepare students to become top experts in their fields and often take several years to complete. Around 60 credits are earned by completing a dissertation or research project. 

An individual earning a doctorate must have published academic research.

  • A doctorate in philosophy (Ph.D.). This highly regarded degree covers a wide range of topics. Upon earning a Ph.D., recipients may use the title “Doctor” with their names.
  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). The terminal medical degree required to practice medicine. Doctors who earn this degree add “M.D.” to their name.
  • A DDS is a doctor of dental surgery. In order to practice dentistry, students must pass a licensing examination known as a Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD).

Professional Degrees

Doctoral degrees can also be known as professional degrees in some cases.

Degrees in professional fields can vary in subject matter and length, but they are generally specialized. The majority of them are earned after completing a Bachelor’s degree. Chiropractic, education, veterinary medicine, and engineering are among the industries they can cover.

Here are a few examples:

  • A Juris Doctor (J.D.) is a professional degree awarded to those who pass the bar examination and are therefore considered lawyers.
  • Chiropractic doctor. Students in this field will learn about chiropractic medicine, disorders of the spine, and musculoskeletal disorders. It can take between three and four years to complete the program.
  • Physical Therapy Doctor. This degree is also known as a Doctor of Physiotherapy (DPT). A three- to four-year degree can take between three and four years to complete.
  • DVM stands for Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. It takes extensive training to earn a DVM in veterinary medicine. It can take around four years to complete the program at schools offering this degree.

Joint Degree

In some schools, you can earn a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate while taking joint programs. Double majors are also known as double minors. Students interested in earning two degrees or a double major should speak to their academic advisor about the program and workload expected.

You can choose from a number of specialized degrees, but these are the most common. Talk to your school’s academic department or your advisor for advice if you’re interested in earning a specialized degree in your intended field!

Are you interested in learning more about majors, degrees, and careers in your field of interest? Find out what requirements different programs have by using our College Major Search Tool. Furthermore, you can view additional information on the field, available jobs after completing programs, and top schools.

Furthermore, you can research careers for details such as median salaries, top majors for your intended line of work, and educational requirements and types of degrees.

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