Types of Undergraduate Degrees

If you are confused about higher education in America and want to determine the details of various degrees, this article will help you figure it out. 

In the United States, when one has an undergraduate degree, he has either an associate or bachelor’s degree. The next level is a graduate degree –– and after a graduate program, you get a master’s or a doctor’s diploma. It’s a bit confusing, but graduate and postgraduate words to identify college degrees are synonyms in the US. However, academics prefer the term “graduate.”

It usually takes a student two years to accomplish an associate program, four –– to complete the bachelor’s one, 6-7 years to get a master’s degree, and up to 9 –– to obtain a doctorate. 

Let’s take a closer look at the two types of undergraduate programs to help you decide which path suits you best. 

Why choose an Associate Degree

When you decide to continue your academic career after secondary school, the next level you have to manage is an associate degree. This program gives basic knowledge to students, and with an associate degree, they can either go to work or proceed with education. 

One would require approximately two years of full-time study to achieve an associate degree. Students can obtain this specialization in community, junior, technical, or affiliated colleges and are ready for entry-level jobs. If you want to start working as soon as possible and spend affordable sums on education, choose to get an associate degree. The excellent point about this option is that you can always switch to a bachelor’s degree plan. 

But once you decide to continue your academic path, make sure your college offers an undergraduate program. Otherwise, you need to check which institution you can transfer to –– and, of course, transfer all your credits. Typically, you get 60 credits after two years of study.

Types of Associate Degrees 

There are three types of Associate Degrees:

– Associate of Arts (A.A.)

– Associate of Science (A.S.)

– Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.).

The last diploma gives you a chance to get employed right after graduation. One can hear A.A.S. professions called vocational or occupational because they give students specialized healthcare, engineering, or technology skills. 

With A.A.S., one can become an air traffic controller, nuclear technician (radiation therapist), electrical engineer, design drafter, paralegal, or legal assistant, or get many other professions. The median annual salaries of these occupations vary from $50,000 to $120,000.

Associate of Arts and Associate of Science Degrees

Both A.A. and A.S. are called general transfer degrees because you can transfer credits to your baccalaureate after completing one of these programs. These degrees require broad knowledge and do not include any major course. The core difference between the science and arts programs is that you will have to devote more hours to humanities and social science for the A.A. diploma. The A.S. assumes you will get five (or more) credits in science or maths. 

To complete A.A. or A.S., a student will have to get 60 college credits: 36 of them –– in General Education and 24 credits should relate to the study program. 

When to Opt for a Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree will give you more career opportunities and let you access high-level positions. Most often, when you hear someone talking about a college degree, he means bachelor’s one –– the one that requires four years of study and 40 courses accomplished. Forty courses are equal to 120 credits, and around 25% of the total time (30-36 credits) is committed to a major. 

One college course usually consists of 3 credits, which means you will have three classes a week during one semester. So, each semester you can take five courses, and the full-time schedule assumes you spend around 5-6 hours a day on homework.

Types of Bachelor’s Diplomas

– Bachelor of Arts (BA)

This program is structured around arts, humanities, and science. For example, BA specialists can work as executive assistants, graphic designers, and marketing managers. 

– Bachelor of Science (BS)

Math, natural science, and engineering are among the focus areas of this qualification. Computer and information systems managers, pilots, compensation and benefits managers are only some of the professions you can get with a BS.

– Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA)

BAA focuses on practical skills in specific areas like studio arts or criminal justice. 

– Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)

These specializations are niche and technical-oriented, like applied physics and mathematics, automotive engineering, building arts, etc.

– Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) 

BFA prepares professional musicians, dancers, actors, and other creative specialists. 

– Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

Finance, marketing, accounting, and management are core topics covered by BAA. Graduates can specialize in human resource management, entrepreneurship, and other positions related to business. So a popular MBA degree is a decent choice to become an executive and top manager. 

Admission Requirements

To apply for a bachelor’s degree, one has to submit the following documents:

  • High school diploma
  • Minimum GPA: usually, this parameter ranges from 2.5 to 3.0
  • Standard test scores like SAT or ACT
  • Letters of recommendation 

If you aim at an applied specialization, check if any additional documents are to be provided, such as a certificate of math course completion or a resume with work experience. 

Cost of a Bachelor’s Degree and Online Programs

Here are some statistics from the National Center of Education Statistics. The average cost of a standard 4-year baccalaureate in 2018-2019 was $21,000 (public colleges) and $45,000 (private institutions). However, there is an option to save on tuition fees and commit to a flexible schedule with online programs. 

You will get the same level of knowledge with an accredited online bachelor’s course as with an on-campus option. It’s only necessary to research which college or university offers the course you need and define whether to study there fully or partially online. 

Wrapping Up

Undergraduate degrees are a reasonable way to secure your future. However, it takes time to consider which profession to choose, the degree to accomplish, the nd university to attend. But the time and efforts invested now will return in several years. 

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