Which Program Is Right For You?

ASSOCIATE’S DEGREE

An associate’s degree is a two-year college degree from a community college, university, college, or career school. Associate’s degrees are normally earned with approximately sixty college credits, including general education courses, electives, and courses required toward a specific college major. Most associate’s degrees are awarded in business, health, engineering, information technology or early childhood education, and may include an Associate of the Arts degree, Associate of Science degree, or an Associate of Applied Science degree. The recipient of an associate’s degree can then transfer the credits toward a four-year, bachelor’s degree program. In the US, associate’s degrees are available at various types of college, including community colleges, junior colleges and technical colleges, and affiliated colleges of universities. It typically takes two years full-time to complete an associate’s degree.

For some students, an associate’s degree is required before getting a bachelor’s degree, while for others it’s a qualification that improves employment prospects.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year degree meaning it usually takes four years of full-time study to complete a bachelor’s degree. In these four years, you will complete 120 semester credits or around 40 college courses.

A bachelor’s is a post-secondary undergraduate degree. Traditionally, the term “college degree” means a bachelor’s or traditional four-year degree. Bachelor degrees are also sometimes called baccalaureate degrees. Liberal arts classes are required for all types of bachelor degrees.  In most cases, more than half of a bachelor’s degree consists of general education or liberal arts courses in areas such as English, critical thinking, psychology, history and mathematics. Typically 30 to 36 credits will be in your major area of study.

The bachelor’s degree remains the standard for entry into many professional careers. Getting a bachelor’s degree can be the ticket to a successful career.

Usually you cannot attend a professional graduate school in law, medicine, or teacher education unless you hold a bachelor’s degree. It is needed before obtaining a master’s degree.

MASTER’S DEGREE

A master’s degree is a graduate degree earned after completion of an undergraduate degree such as Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science. Typically the master’s degree requires 30 credits of coursework and takes 2 years of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree to obtain.

The master’s degree involves completing comprehensive exams and a thesis in addition to the course work. Master’s degrees are commonly Master of Arts (MA) or a Master of Science (MS), although some fields have discipline-specific degrees such as social work (Master of Social Work) and art (Master of Fine Arts).

Unlike the undergraduate programs, master’s programs often allow students to focus in on their field of study. There is no need to take general core curriculum courses like mathematics, science, and literature.

Another difference between master’s and bachelor’s degrees is that the amount of classes offered is different between the undergraduate and graduate programs. Whereas undergraduate schools offer most general interest classes like English and Physics, masters schools only offer courses focused to the degree itself.

DOCTORATE DEGREE

A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree. A doctorate can be earned in most subject areas. Typically a doctorate degree takes four years to complete, post-bachelor’s degree. If you already hold a master’s degree, you may be able to complete a doctorate in the same subject area with only three years of additional full-time study.Four-year doctorates will require about 90 to 120 semester credits or 30 to 40 college courses. Some doctorate programs require a research thesis to be completed. Very few career areas require a doctorate degree. Areas where state licensing is required, such as engineering and psychology, may require a doctorate degree for the highest paid positions.

CERTIFICATE PROGRAM

A student earns a certificate after taking a series of courses in a particular subject. Students often earn certificates to get a step ahead in the professional field of their interest, and certificates may be offered in similar programs leading to degrees. For instance, there are certificates in business, literature and technical fields. In some technical programs, a certificate may be required.

DIPLOMA PROGRAM

Diplomas are similar to certificates, usually given by community or technical schools. Diploma’s focus on getting a person trained and qualified in a particular business or trade. The curriculum, while teaching the required academic knowledge, emphasizes how to handle on the job situations. Some of them even include apprenticeships and on-the job training as part of the diploma course. Diplomas are most often available in subjects that are focused on a profession such as nursing, HVAC, auto mechanics, etc

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