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What Is a Bachelor’s Degree? A Guide to the Best Undergraduate Majors, Programs, and Jobs

Brandon Woods - June 17, 2022


A bachelor’s degree is one of the most common four-year degrees you can earn. There are many types of bachelor’s degrees, and you can earn a bachelor’s degree in almost any area of study. Many employers require a bachelor’s degree for entry-level jobs, which is why it’s one of the most common degrees.

Making the decision to attend college and earn a bachelor’s degree is a big deal. But what is a bachelor’s degree, and how is a bachelor’s degree different from an associate degree ? There are different levels and types of bachelor’s degrees to choose from. If you are making a big decision regarding your education, this guide to undergraduate majors will help you decide if a bachelor’s degree is right for you.

What Is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year undergraduate degree program where students study a specific subject. Upon completing the program, students have the skills needed to work in related career fields. Bachelor’s programs are the most common degrees among the four college degree levels because most jobs require it.

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Another reason for the popularity of a bachelor’s degree is that it’s required to enroll in a graduate program. Usually, to earn your master’s degree or doctorate, you need to earn your bachelor’s degree first. A bachelor’s degree teaches everything from critical thinking skills to hard skills and other types of skills in your career field.

Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

You can get a bachelor’s degree via in-person, hybrid, or online courses. Full-time students can earn their bachelor’s as a four-year degree, even in an online program. Though it varies depending on the university, the average bachelor’s degree requires 120 credit hours to complete. Many online colleges offer bachelor’s degrees.

Whether you pursue an online bachelor’s, a business degree, or a software development degree, there are a few education requirements and educational goals to meet. These are detailed in the following list.

Common Bachelor’s Degree Requirements

  • High school diploma or equivalent earned prior to program
  • SAT or ACT scores prior to program enrollment
  • Complete roughly 120 college credit hours
  • Maintain a 2.0 or higher GPA throughout the degree program

Applying to College: Bachelor’s Degree Application Process

  1. Review the program requirements. Most schools require a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) diploma. In addition, there is often a minimum GPA requirement. You’ll likely be asked to submit SAT or ACT scores as well.
  2. Complete the online application and pay the fee. Most universities will have an easy complete application that you can fill out online. Some, however, may require a paper application that must be mailed to the school. Either way, most schools charge a fee of $20 to $60.
  3. Submit supporting documents. Many applications require letters of recommendation, high school transcripts, and a personal essay. Your application won’t be complete until you have uploaded or mailed all the necessary documents.
  4. Apply for student aid. Chances are you qualify for some sort of federal or state aid, so make sure to fill out your FAFSA application. This will also reveal if you can access school or merit-based scholarships, subsidized or unsubsidized loans, and work-study programs.
  5. Meet any other requirements specific to the school or college. If you are applying to a university, there will most likely be additional requirements depending on the specific college or school you want to attend. In some cases, you may be asked to submit a supplemental application.

Types of Bachelor’s Degrees

There are several bachelor’s degree options available. These vary based on the subject you choose to pursue. Below is a list of the most common bachelor’s degrees:

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

A BA is the most popular form of the bachelor's degree out there. These degrees focus on sciences, arts, and humanities. If you're working toward a degree in fields such as business or literature, then you're most likely working toward a BA. It is common to earn a BA in political science and other social sciences as well.

BA programs require you to complete general education courses along with your major courses. This means you usually have to take elective courses in history, English, and math. BA programs are well-rounded with a combination of general and major-specific coursework.

Bachelor of Science (BS)

A BS is an undergraduate bachelor's degree that places a stronger emphasis on theory and research. This degree type is mainly related to natural sciences, engineering and technology, computer science and IT, and mathematics. These programs typically take three to four years to complete.

Unlike BA programs, BS programs tend to have more courses related to a student's major and not as many general education courses. BS programs also include more technical and lab courses, especially for those related to hard science, such as biology and chemistry. BS students can still take electives in things like criminal justice and creative writing.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

A BFA is the third most common type of bachelor's degree. These degree programs emphasize artistic training. You'll take courses to strengthen your skills in photography, film, theater, art, creative writing, or dance. In addition to developing your skills as an artist, you'll study the theory behind art.

Students are taught in a classroom environment where they practice skills and techniques, preparing them for creative professions. Graduating from a BFA program allows you to pursue careers in dance, music, and other arts. If your dream career is in one of the artistic fields of study, you should get a BFA.

Should You Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

Yes, you should get a bachelor’s degree. While it may seem like a big commitment, having a bachelor’s degree will greatly impact your career. Even many entry-level jobs require you to have a bachelor’s degree. If your dream job doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree, it is still a good idea because your starting pay will likely be higher than if you did not have a degree.

It takes four years to earn a bachelor’s degree. In those four years, you gain a well-rounded education in history, math, and science. You also gain technical skills and knowledge in the major you choose. Getting a degree at the undergraduate level is the perfect place to start your career.

Some people go on to pursue graduate degrees, and others start successful careers after earning their bachelor’s degrees. The greatest benefit of a bachelor’s degree is the opportunities it provides. You’ll gain the skills and knowledge to find success in any field you desire.

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How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree

To begin your bachelor’s degree, first you will need to have earned a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent. Next, you will consider if you want to attend a private college, public college, or online school. You are able to earn the required credit hours just as easily at all three facilities, so this comes down to personal preference.

Once you have decided on, applied to, and been accepted into your preferred learning institution, you will meet with an advisor. Academic advisors will help you build your schedule to meet your education requirements. A traditional bachelor’s degree program will likely begin with general education before moving into major-focused courses.

After enrolling in your first classes, you can begin earning your first-semester credits. Then, you simply study and work hard toward that in-person or online bachelor’s degree. You’ll likely earn 12 to 15 credit hours per semester until you have completed your degree. Then, you can start chasing your dream job.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree program takes around four years to complete. However, several factors affect this. For example, if you’ve completed any Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school, then you can earn college credit and skip some courses.

Depending on your major and the university, you may be able to participate in accelerated programs that take three years to complete. However, these are more intensive than ordinary degrees. If you want a more flexible schedule, you can attend school part-time.

How Many Credits Is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is usually 120 credits. Bachelor’s degrees on a semester calendar usually require at least 120 credit hours to graduate, according to the US Department of Education. Schools on a quarter calendar usually demand 180 quarter hours. Both figures equal a similar amount of work because a quarter hour represents about two-thirds of a semester credit hour.

Is a Bachelor’s Degree an Undergraduate Degree?

Yes, a bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree. A bachelor’s degree is generally defined as an undergraduate degree offered by an accredited institution, such as a college or university, that takes four years to complete.

There is another type of undergraduate degree: the associate degree. An associate degree is, in most cases, awarded by a community college as part of a two-year program. Some associate degrees can be obtained as part of transfer programs to a four-year university.

How Much Does a Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

The average bachelor’s degree cost was $19,020 per year in 2021, according to the National Center of Education Statistics. This number refers solely to tuition and required fees. If you add room and board and other expenses, the price grows to $35,551 if you live on campus and $24,587 if you choose to stay with your family.

The price of pursuing a bachelor’s degree also changes significantly depending on the type of institution. For example, the average cost of tuition for an in-state student at a public institution is $9,377. Compare that with the average tuition at a private for-profit school and a private non-profit school, where costs soar to $18,244 and $37,641 respectively.

Perhaps a more revealing approach is to look at the average overall cost of the program per institution, including living expenses. The yearly cost of pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a public institution as an in-state student is, on average, $25,707 if you choose to live on campus, $14,949 if you stay with your family, and $25,972 if you live off-campus alone or with roommates.

By contrast, a year pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a private non-profit university or college will set you back $54,501, on average, if you stay on campus. If you choose to live with your parents, you will spend an average of $43,165. Finally, expect to pay around $54,593 if you find housing outside the campus.

How Much Does an Online Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

The average cost of an online bachelor’s degree is $38,496 to $60,593, according to US News & World Report. For many programs, the tuition and fees will remain the same for the in-person and online versions. The only difference is that for an online degree, you won’t have to pay for on-campus housing.

As such, based on figures from the National Center for Education Statistics, we can infer that a student will spend, on average, $14,949 a year for an online bachelor’s at a public institution, $23,944 at a private for-profit school, and $43,165 at a private non-profit institution.

Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Degrees

  1. Online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting | University of the Cumberlands | Tuition: $199/credit hour. This private school, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, allows you to earn your accounting degree at an exceptionally low cost. Along with general education courses, you’ll study accounting, macroeconomics, taxation, and other key business concepts.
  2. Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice | Sam Houston State University | Tuition: $244/credit hour. SHSU is a public university in Huntsville, Texas, with cheap online bachelor’s degrees in a variety of fields. Its BA in Criminal Justice is one of the highest-ranked programs in the nation for the subject.
  3. Bachelor of Arts in Online Communication and Conflict | University of Central Florida | Tuition: $105.07/credit hour. Located in Orange County, Florida, this public research university boasts an offering of 20 cheap online bachelor’s degrees, including this excellent program on digital communication.
  4. Bachelor of General Studies | Minot State University | Tuition: $340.14/credit hour. Nestled in Minot, North Dakota, this state school is one of the largest in the region. This BGS is a highly customizable degree that offers up to 100 areas of study.
  5. Bachelor of Science in Career and Technical Education | Appalachian State University | Tuition: $224/credit hour. This CTE program prepares students for the current job market with several concentrations, including Business, Finance and Information Technology Education and Trade and Industry Education. Appalachian State University has a student population of over 20,000 students.

Financial Aid for Bachelor’s Degrees: What Are My Options?

As an undergraduate student, your best option for financial aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out this application will let you know how much financial aid you qualify for.

By filling out the FAFSA application, you’ll find out if you are eligible for federal grants such as the Pell Grant, subsidized or unsubsidized federal student loans, work-study programs, and other types of school, need, or merit-based grants, scholarships, and loans.

If you don’t qualify for aid under FAFSA, or if you need more funding for your education, there are other options. You can request financial aid, in the form of grants or scholarships, from your school or from some private organizations. Likewise, you can take out a loan from the myriad of private lenders out there.

Applying for Financial Aid: How to Fill Out FAFSA for Undergraduate Study

1. Determine whether or not you are a candidate for financial aid.

There are several student aid eligibility requirements you must check even before you start your application. To be eligible for federal aid, you must be a US citizen, have a valid Social Security number, and be enrolled or accepted in a degree program.

2. Be aware of deadlines.

To be eligible for financial aid, you’ll need to check the deadlines for the year you’re applying. Be aware that the timeline might change if you are applying for state or institutional aid.

3. Create your FSA ID.

To access your FAFSA form digitally, you need to begin by creating an ID on the Federal Student Aid site. You can use the same ID to access the myStudentAid app and sign loan contracts.

4. Collect the necessary documents.

The following is a non-exhaustive list of documents you’ll likely need to complete the form. Keep in mind that the list might change depending on the applicant’s circumstances. Generally speaking, you’ll need your Social Security number, your driver’s license number, your tax returns, records of any untaxed income, and information on financial assets like cash, savings and checking accounts, and investments.

5. Begin your application.

Go to fafsa.gov and select “Start Here”. You’ll be asked to provide your personal information, including some of the items mentioned earlier. Keep in mind that you can also complete the form on a mobile device via the myStudentAid app.

6. List the schools that will receive your application.

You will be asked to list at least one school. On the web portal or the app, you can list up to 10 schools. The chosen institutions will decide the type of aid to be awarded and the amount.

7. Answer dependency status questions.

You’ll be presented with a series of questions to determine your dependency status. If you are a dependent, you will be asked to provide parental information.

8. Provide information on your finances.

You will be requested to upload information on your tax returns as well your as savings and checking accounts.

9. Submit the form.

The last step in completing the FAFSA form is to sign and submit the application. There are a few more steps to follow after you submit the form, such as making sure that your FAFSA form was properly processed.

Types of Federal Funding Available for Accredited Bachelor’s Programs

Grants.

A grant refers to need-based aid that students do not have to repay. Through your FAFSA application, you can gain access to the Pell Grant, the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grants, to name a few.

Scholarships.

Unlike grants, scholarships tend to be awarded based on merit. They are offered by a wide range of organizations and can make all the difference when it comes to financing your education.

Loans.

If grants or scholarships are not options for you, a loan might be. Through FAFSA, you’ll find out if you are a candidate for a subsidized or an unsubsidized loan.

Work-study.

Many students enrolled in bachelor’s degree programs across the US engage in work-study jobs to pay college bills and living expenses. As with the other options on this list, your FAFSA application will tell you if you are eligible.

Veteran aid.

Several grants, scholarships, loans, and other forms of aid target active and retired military personnel and their families. Veterans in tech and other subjects can find many resources to help them with their studies.

Other types of aid.

The federal government supports the education of Americans in other ways. For example, you may find out that you qualify for tax benefits for your education or for scholarships offered by agencies like the National Health Service Corps. These types of aid can cover tuition, fees, room and board, and books.

Associate Degree vs Bachelor’s Degree

Associate and bachelor’s degrees are the two types of undergraduate degrees you can pursue. What is an undergraduate degree? An undergraduate degree is the type of degree you must earn prior to pursuing a master’s, PhD, or another doctoral degree in college. These are typically two to four-year degree programs.

There are a few differences between an associate and bachelor’s degree, such as the amount of material you learn and how much time you spend in school. You can enter both associate and bachelor’s degree programs right out of high school. Associate degree programs take around two years to complete, and bachelor’s programs take four years.

One of the benefits of earning an associate degree is that you can transfer your credits to a bachelor’s degree. However, starting your education journey with a bachelor’s degree can help you learn more subjects. You can enroll in a double major or an honors program, which can open up more job opportunities.

Associate vs Bachelor’s Degree Salary

A bachelor’s degree will increase your earning potential by a substantial amount. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the median annual salary for bachelor’s degree holders aged 25 to 34 is $55,700. By contrast, workers in the same age group with only an associate degree earn just $40,000.

Figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics support these findings as well. BLS estimates that workers with a bachelor’s degree earn, on average, $1,334 per week. On the other hand, those who have only attained an associate degree earn just $963 and, in addition, experience a higher unemployment rate.

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What Comes After a Bachelor’s Degree?

After a bachelor’s degree, you can get a graduate degree or start looking for career opportunities. A bachelor’s will give you the skills you need for many entry-level and mid-level positions. According to PayScale, the average salary of a bachelor’s degree holder is $67,000, which in most locations is a modest salary with a good standard of living.

Alternatively, many people graduating with a bachelor’s degree choose to pursue further education. It is common to specialize in your industry by obtaining a master’s degree or even to become an authority in your field by completing a PhD or other doctoral degree. Doctoral programs allow you to conduct high-level research.

Master’s Degree vs Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree are both postsecondary degrees awarded in the US higher education system. One of the most basic differences between the two is that, in the majority of cases, you need to earn a bachelor’s in order to qualify for a master’s degree. A master’s degree, in other words, is a more advanced degree.

A bachelor’s degree typically introduces the student to the field of study and gives them a solid foundation. The student graduates with a wide spectrum of knowledge and the skills needed to gain access to entry-level and mid-level positions.

A master’s, by contrast, is more commonly pursued by those looking to specialize and become experts in an area. As a master’s degree holder, you’ll have a better shot at management and executive roles. Postgraduate degrees can help you earn a higher salary in the field as well.

Most bachelor’s degree programs last four years, although there are many exceptions to this, such as some engineering degrees and architecture degrees. Most master’s degrees last two years, but they can range from one to four years depending on the program. A specialized degree with advanced subjects might take longer.

Master’s vs Bachelor’s Degree Salary

Earning a master’s degree can mean a considerable salary increase. According to the National Center of Education Statistics, holders of master’s or higher degrees earn, on average, $14,300 more than those who did not go beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Figures from salary aggregator PayScale corroborate this. According to this site, workers whose highest level of education is a bachelor’s degree earn $67,000 a year, compared to master’s degree holders , who earn $79,000 per year, on average. It can make a huge difference to your income if you attend graduate school.

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What Is a Second Bachelor’s Degree?

A second bachelor’s degree is a qualification that gives you expertise in a field different from your first undergraduate degree. Earning a second bachelor’s degree is becoming increasingly common among career changers as they represent an effective way of acquiring the skills and knowledge needed to enter a new field.

There are other reasons why people may choose to pursue a second bachelor’s degree, such as career advancement. Some workers enroll in a second bachelor’s program as a way to earn the credentials needed for a promotion in their current job.

Some choose to pursue a second bachelor’s degree instead of a master’s because the former may be cheaper or even shorter, as some of the credits accumulated during the first bachelor’s degree may be used to complete the second. Finally, many students go for a second degree simply as a way to expand their knowledge in a field that interests them.

First Bachelor’s Degree vs Second Bachelor’s Degree

A second bachelor’s degree may be a good idea in many situations. If you’re looking to change careers, an entirely new degree can help you get your foot in the door. Perhaps you are just interested in a new intellectual challenge.

Whatever the case, there are some differences between a first bachelor’s degree vs second bachelor’s degree that you should be aware of. We explore them below:

Duration.

A second bachelor’s degree often lasts three years, a whole year less than your standard bachelor’s degree. This is because some of the credits you earn during your first degree could count toward your second.

Cost.

The second time around, your bachelor’s is also likely to be cheaper. Again, this is due to the fact that some of the classes you took for your previous degree probably yield credits that apply to your new degree. In addition, if you are pursuing your second degree while already employed, some employers will sponsor your studies or support you in another way.

Intensity.

Many second degree students work and manage many other responsibilities. They tend to be a lot busier than the first time they were in college. As a result, some choose to study only part-time to be able to juggle all their commitments. This makes the whole college experience less intense than the first time around.

Financial Aid for a Second Bachelor’s Degree: What Are My Options?

Your financial aid options as a student pursuing a second bachelor’s degree are more limited than if you were a first degree student. This means you may face challenges when seeking student aid. To know all your federal aid options, make sure to submit your FAFSA application.

Federal grants.

Unfortunately, need-based federal aid like the Pell Grant is not accessible to second degree students. However, they may qualify for other types of federal grants, such as the Teach Grant Program.

Federal loans.

Second degree students can still access federal loans, though they face more restrictions. An example is the Stafford loan program, which has a limit based on the total time the student spent as an undergraduate. Unfortunately, the limit does not increase if the student pursues a new degree. On the bright side, the PLUS loan program can be used to supplement a Stafford loan.

Scholarships from private organizations.

Without access to federal grants, your best bet is to research scholarships offered by private nonprofits and for-profit organizations. You will find some that can be used to finance second degrees.

Work-study.

Many students find work-study programs to supplement their income while attending their second degree. These are programs that give you career opportunities while you’re still in school. Sometimes, you’ll need to submit reports about your job and keep in touch with the school.

Employer sponsorship.

A good number of second degree students are already employed and, often, their employers are happy to help them cover the cost of their education. Of course, a company would only agree to this if it sees a way to benefit financially from the new skills that the employer would acquire.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Second Bachelor’s Degree?

Getting a second bachelor’s degree usually takes two to three years. It takes less time to get your second bachelor’s degree than your first because of transfer credits. This also accounts for the fact that, generally speaking, students pay less money for their second degree than for their first.

How Hard Is It to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

Getting a bachelor’s degree is not very hard, especially if you have an affinity for the subject you choose to study. This reflects in the numbers, with 63 percent of students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree graduating successfully, according to the National Center of Education Statistics.

However, that means 40 percent of students do not manage to complete their degrees, and you may be wondering why. According to a 2015 study from Higher Education Research & Development, students drop out of bachelor’s degrees for two reasons : course-related and personal.

Course-related reasons refer to changes in career direction or a lack of bonding with peers. Personal reasons for not completing a degree were often related to illness, finances, or employment. An academic degree can be difficult to get if you’re not prepared for the commitment of full-time study.

What Is the Easiest Bachelor’s Degree to Get? 5 Easy Options

  1. Bachelor’s Degree in English. This is an excellent degree if you prefer studying texts and writing essays rather than technical reports. Most English majors don’t have to take math or science courses, instead focusing on literary analysis and creative topics. This broad degree teaches communication skills and critical thinking.
  2. Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. As a psychology major, you’ll learn about the inner workings of the mind, which is interesting to many people. On top of that, undergraduate psychology students can take electives in different topics like criminal psychology and child psychology.
  3. Bachelor’s Degree in Communications. A degree in communications covers a wide range of skills. Communications majors learn about journalism, marketing, and even politics, and graduate with a broad knowledge that can be applied to a plethora of jobs.
  4. Bachelor’s Degree in History. As a history major, you will mostly focus your efforts on analyzing events from the past. This is an easy degree if you’re good at memorizing names and dates and enjoy writing analytical essays about history.
  5. Bachelor’s Degree in Humanities. This multidisciplinary degree will teach you a broad scope of skills, from writing to critical thinking to religion. If you are unsure of what degree to pursue, this might be a good option.

Why Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

Bachelor's degree student walking down sidewalk beside a large stone academic building. What is a Bachelor's Degree: A Guide to College Majors
What is a bachelor’s degree? A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree focusing on a specific major.

You should get a bachelor’s degree because it will increase your earning potential, improve your marketability, and give you access to more senior positions. You’ll also develop connections with interesting people from different walks of life and build confidence in your ability to achieve your dreams and goals.

Ultimately, you should get a bachelor’s degree if you are interested in acquiring more responsibilities at work, accessing a more senior role, or earning a higher salary. There are also purely personal reasons, such as a love for learning and wishing to expand your horizons. It has become the norm for people to become college students and get degrees once they graduate high school.

Benefits of Getting a Bachelor’s Degree

  • Higher salary. Bachelor’s degree holders earn considerably more than people with no academic degree or with a lower degree. If you are a recent high school graduate, one of the best ways to achieve financial stability is by earning a bachelor’s degree.
  • Increased marketability. A bachelor’s degree makes a candidate more attractive in the eyes of employers. Many well-paying jobs in today’s market require at least a bachelor’s degree. For those that don’t, the hiring manager is much more likely to choose a bachelor’s degree holder over someone who only has a high school diploma.
  • Access to better jobs. If you are working an entry-level job, an excellent way to be promoted and given more responsibility is to earn your bachelor’s degree. In today’s professional landscape, a bachelor’s is often necessary to access most mid-level positions.
  • Networking opportunities. Attending college is about much more than earning a piece of paper with your name on it. You’ll develop strong connections with your peers and your professors. These connections can last a lifetime and help you in your career.
  • Personal growth. Attaining a bachelor’s degree is an important milestone in the lives of many Americans. It is a credential that shows your dedication and grit as well as your intellect. It is common knowledge that a college degree builds self-confidence and prepares the student for the challenges ahead.

Popular Undergraduate Bachelor’s Degree Majors

Business Administration

When it comes to the most popular majors, business administration has been at the top of the list for years. A degree in business administration prepares students to work in a business environment and utilize problem-solving skills to help a business succeed.

Graduates with this degree can work in a wide array of careers, including business or project management and business support positions. It is one of the best types of bachelor degrees to get if you’re interested in business-related careers .

Psychology

The mind is incredibly complex, and studying it takes years of practice and dedication. It seems many people are attracted to this field of study as psychology is one of the most popular undergraduate majors for students.

A Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology opens many career opportunities in marketing, human resources, and social work. To work in a more clinical field, you'll have to earn your master's degree and possibly a doctorate.

Biology

A biology degree program is filled with students studying life, whether it's in the form of animals or microscopic bacteria. A biology degree allows you to start your career both inside and outside a lab. This is the type of degree path to follow if you want to become a forensic pathologist .

Some people who earn their biology degrees become teachers while others work as forensic scientists or science technicians. A biology degree also opens the path for you to work in a veterinary or medical field.

Accounting

Students who enjoy mathematics and pay close attention to detail can find success in accounting. Accountants help businesses manage and create budgets, perform finance forecasting, and take care of outgoing and incoming payments.

A major in accounting can expect to earn a high starting salary and much more as they gain experience. People with accounting degrees can also enter finance and business careers if they get extra credentials.

Communications

No matter what career path you choose, communication is vital. This growing field is closely associated with new media and the new ways people communicate. The vast majority of jobs require communication skills.

Communications majors follow a similar path to English majors. However, those that work in this field may find themselves in certain careers, such as speech writing or reporting. It is a broad education program that offers many opportunities.

English

English is another popular major amongst bachelor's degree students. This major is about the study of language and literature. Students take courses where they explore the writings of the most influential writers in history.

English degree careers have a heavy focus on writing, such as technical writing, scriptwriting, novel writing, or teaching writing. Almost all post-secondary institutions offer writing assistance to help you throughout your degree.

Criminal Justice

While you don't need a degree to work in law enforcement, earning a criminal justice bachelor's degree can open up several opportunities. Criminal justice students develop interpersonal skills and learn a great deal about law and criminal activity.

Earning a degree in criminal justice allows students to work in corrections, forensics, or even for the FBI if they meet the qualifications. The majority of bachelor graduates with this degree earn high salaries in very interesting jobs. Some even become forensic accountants.

Marketing

Earning a marketing major places you in a position to learn a wide array of skills. This specialty teaches you various skills to put your creative and problem-solving knowledge to the test for a business or organization.

Graduating from a marketing program allows you to pursue careers in sales, public relations, and advertising. This is one of the best types of bachelor degrees to get if you’re interested in becoming a freelancer or consultant.

General Studies

General studies is a popular major for people who wish to get a broader understanding of the world around them. This major covers a variety of topics, and it is usually pursued by individuals unsure of what major is right for them.

At the bachelor's degree level, a general studies major is much more detailed and more career-oriented. If you’re unsure about a college education but want to get a degree, this one can help you decide what path to take later.

Nursing

Many people have a strong inclination toward helping others, specifically in the medical field. While being a doctor requires more years of study, several individuals earn a bachelor's degree by majoring in nursing.

Completing a pre-nursing major allows you to become a registered nurse. And it opens up more career opportunities for you in the field of healthcare. Those who earn a nursing degree have the opportunity to take on more leadership roles and earn a higher salary.

Management

Interacting with colleagues and leading teams are some of the greatest challenges you’ll face in the workplace. The good news is that a management degree can give you the tools to do it successfully. This specialized degree certificate is a great choice for anyone with leadership skills.

Whether you are interested in business management, health management, sports management, construction management, supply management, or any other type of management, you’ll graduate from your program ready to be put at the helm of a modern and diverse team. Management majors acquire robust leadership skills and knowledge of key business and human resource strategies.

Engineering

Engineers apply their deep understanding of mathematical concepts and science to come up with solutions for a wide range of problems. These can include anything from increasing the output of an industrial machine to creating an app that connects taxi drivers with people looking for a ride. Engineering degrees are a popular choice for people with a knack for math and design.

Because of this, engineers are in great demand and bring home handsome salaries. If you are considering a degree in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, software engineering, aerospace engineering, industrial engineering, or civil engineering, you are on your way to a fulfilling and well-compensated career.

Public Health

Careers in health are both rewarding and well-paid. In a public health bachelor’s degree, you’ll learn about epidemiology, health policy, infectious diseases, community health, and human development, to name just a few topics.

The career outcomes of a public health major are diverse. You could become a dietitian , a nurse, a microbiologist, or a health educator. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in healthcare will grow by 16 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Finance

The finance industry will continue to grow and attract some of the brightest and most ambitious minds in the country. This is an exciting and varied field that encompasses a wealth of jobs, from banker to stock trader to financial analyst.

A finance major covers a lot of ground. You will get a healthy dose of probability, statistics, and related math subjects, but you are also likely to touch on entrepreneurship, macroeconomics, communication, and other courses in the humanities. Depending on the program, you may also take highly specialized courses, such as portfolio management or investment techniques.

Social Work

If you have a knack for helping others, a social work major might be down your alley. You will learn about current social welfare systems and develop communication, problem-solving, and teamwork abilities. Baccalaureate degrees in this topic can lead to rewarding careers .

The job outlook of social work occupations is projected at 12 percent for the 2020 to 2030 period, which makes this an attractive field. If you become a social worker, you could find employment at a human services agency, a healthcare provider, a school, or an organization that works on child welfare, to name a few.

What Major Should I Choose?

You should choose a major that is in line with your career ambitions and your interests. There are many other factors that you should consider. You also need to think of salary potential and job outlook for that field.

Fortunately, in most cases, you won’t have to declare a major right away. Most schools allow you to delay the decision until the end of your second year. If undecided, take a few courses on that subject and see how you feel about it.

Before you declare a major, we recommend that you talk to students enrolled in that degree and ask them about their experience. Have a chat with the professors and see what they have to say. This could be one of the most important decisions you make, so take your time.

Best Colleges to Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Popular Majors

Undergraduate Major Best School US News Ranking Bachelor’s Program
Biology Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) #2 Bachelor of Science in Biology
English Yale University #5 Bachelor of Arts in English
Psychology Stanford University #6 Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Marketing University of Pennsylvania #8 Bachelor of Science in Marketing and Communication
Public Health Johns Hopkins University #9 Undergraduate Program in Public Health Studies
Nursing University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) #20 Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Business Administration University of Michigan #23 Bachelor of Business Administration & Marketing
Social Work University of Central Florida #148 Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) Program
General Studies University of Wyoming #196 Bachelor of General Studies (BGS)
Criminal Justice Northern Arizona University #288 Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice

Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online?

Yes, you can definitely get your bachelor’s degree online. With the advancement of technology, there are more opportunities than ever before for people to earn an online bachelor’s degree. While some people feel online degrees don’t have the same value as a traditional degree, this is far from the case.

Today, some of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country offer online degree programs, including Ivy League schools like Yale and Harvard. Some online degree programs are fully online, meaning you don’t have to visit the campus for any reason. Other programs are hybrid, which means you’ll visit campus a few times throughout the program.

Online bachelor’s degree programs aren’t for everyone. They offer an alternative for individuals who want to pursue their degrees from the comfort of their own homes. It also gives you the freedom to study through more colleges and universities, as their location does not matter.

Public schools and private institutions alike offer online degrees. Look into the colleges and universities you’re interested in and find out what programs they have available. Be sure to choose an accredited institution, which makes sure the standard of education is up to par.

How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Online

Man wearing black headphones, looking at laptop screen studying online bachelor’s degree. What is a Bachelor's Degree: A Guide to College Majors
A bachelor’s degree can kickstart a profitable career.

Getting a bachelor’s degree online involves a series of steps that take place over a timeframe of several years. The process varies significantly from school to school, but the main steps are as follows:

  1. Find a degree. Spend as long as needed to find a degree that meets your needs and interests. High school students can talk to their guidance counselors to decide what might work best for them.
  2. Fill out and submit your online application. You will likely have to pay an application fee. Most schools charge $25 to $60 per application.
  3. Apply for financial aid. Fill out your FAFSA form to see what kind of aid you are eligible for and ask the school about any scholarship opportunities.
  4. Become familiar with the distance learning platform . Set up an account with the school’s online learning platform and explore around to learn its ins and outs.
  5. Meet your credit requirements and complete all coursework. Most programs have a time limit to complete a degree, usually seven to eight years. However, most students finish within four to five years.
  6. Graduate and start the next chapter . Now that you’ve reached graduation day, it is time to think of what comes next. Will you jump straight into the workforce or continue your education by applying for a master’s degree?

Online Bachelor’s Degree vs Traditional Bachelor’s Degree: Which Is Better for Me?

An online bachelor’s degree is better if you are looking for flexibility in your program. Online bachelor’s degrees are ideal for busy people that have to balance different responsibilities. This type of degree affords the student the ability to complete the coursework on their own time. Often, online degrees are also cheaper as students don’t have to pay for on-campus housing.

If, on the other hand, you are looking for the “real” college experience, then a traditional bachelor’s degree might be the way to go. An in-person degree will allow you to interact with your peers and make important connections. You will also enjoy a closer relationship with faculty members and benefit more directly from their tutoring.

Online Bachelor’s vs Traditional Bachelor’s: 5 Factors to Consider

  • Your availability. Your schedule and availability are some of the most important things to consider when deciding between an online bachelor’s vs traditional bachelor’s. Online degrees afford more freedom to the student and allow them to juggle other commitments.
  • Price. Nowadays, the price tag attached to an online degree doesn’t vary drastically from that of its in-person counterpart. However, if you opt for an online degree, you could complete your program from home, without relocating to the campus or finding housing near the university. This can save you thousands of dollars.
  • Online learning platform. Before you settle on any particular online degree, do some digging. You want to make sure that the school that offers the degree has a robust online learning platform that will make your experience a worthwhile one. You should also make sure you’re choosing an accredited institution.
  • Degree reputation. Even in this day and age, there is still a bias against online degrees. Many employers don’t like to see the word “online” preceding the title of a degree, and this could hurt a candidacy. While this bias is slowly fading away, it is certainly worth taking into consideration.
  • Career services. Most online degrees will include just about the same career services that you’d enjoy on campus. You can still seek mentorship and advice from your professors, or receive help during the job search from a career counselor. However, these services would have to be delivered online, which may or may not be your preferred choice.

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Best Online Schools for Bachelor’s Degrees

Not every school is equipped to offer students a strong online learning experience. Some have better learning platforms than others. Below, we list some of the best schools in the nation in terms of their online teaching capabilities. The statistics gathered below come from College Scorecard.

School Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Top Bachelor’s Program
Bellevue University 100% 50% Bachelor of Science in Marketing
Brigham Young University-Idaho 97% 67% Bachelor of Science in Public Health
Florida International University 58% 65% Online Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice
Liberty University 50% 34% Bachelor of Social Work
McNeese State University 63% 46% Bachelor of General Studies
Southern New Hampshire University 94% 40% Bachelor’s in Business Administration
University of Central Florida 45% 72% Online Bachelor of Arts in English Literature
University of Florida 31% 88% Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
University of Louisiana at Monroe 78% 46% RN to BSN Online Degree Program
University of Maryland Global Campus 100% 28% Bachelor of Science in Biotechnology

How to Get a Bachelor’s Degree Fast

The best way to get a bachelor’s degree fast is to go for an accelerated bachelor’s degree . These are fast-tracked programs that can be completed in as little as two years. An accelerated bachelor’s degree is an excellent alternative for students wishing to graduate fast so that they can enter the workforce as soon as possible.

Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree: Overview

Accelerated bachelor’s degrees give you the opportunity to complete your degree in a fraction of the time it would normally take without sacrificing the quality of the education you receive. Accelerated bachelor’s degrees consist of the same courses as traditional degrees, only that they are delivered in a much shorter time frame.

This makes accelerated degrees much more intense than regular degrees and thus are best suited for self-motivated and disciplined individuals. Accelerated degrees are ideal for students who want to enter the workforce and start generating income as quickly as possible. They are a great alternative for people aiming to change careers in a fast and efficient manner.

Common subjects for accelerated degrees include accounting, business management, English, finance, and geography. It is also common to find accelerated degrees in law, marketing, and tourism. Some joint degrees can also be pursued in an accelerated format.

Can I Get an Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Online?

Yes, you can an accelerated bachelor’s degree online. In fact, accelerated degrees tend to be online. This means the student enjoys more flexibility during their studies. Below, we list some popular online accelerated degrees.

Online Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree Program Examples

Best Accelerated Degrees

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What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree?

With a bachelor’s degree, you can enter a wide variety of industries, from finance to education and from healthcare to computer science. Marketing manager, computer engineer, financial advisor, accountant, high school teacher, and social worker, to name just a few, are professions that commonly require a bachelor’s.

In fact, a bachelor’s degree is considered a minimum requirement for many white-collar jobs and mid-level positions. If your goal is to secure a well-paying job and enjoy financial stability, we recommend earning your bachelor’s degree. You can find your dream career after finishing your degree.

Average Salary for a Bachelor’s Degree

The average salary for a bachelor’s degree holder is $55,700 a year, according to data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics. Salary aggregator PayScale puts the figure even higher at $67,000 per year. As these reports show, a bachelor’s degree often leads to a well-paying job.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a person with a bachelor’s degree earns, on average, $1,334 per week. By contrast, those with only an associate degree earn $963 weekly, while those with a high school diploma bring home $899 per week on average.

Best Jobs With a Bachelor’s Degree: What Jobs Can I Get With a Bachelor’s Degree?

With a bachelor’s degree, you can get very well-paying jobs, including computer engineer, physical scientist, and architecture manager. As shown in this report by BLS, many of the occupations in key sectors that are expected to grow significantly require a bachelor’s degree. Below, we show you the best-paying jobs that can be accessed with a bachelor’s degree.

Highest-Paying Bachelor’s Degree Jobs

Job Required Bachelor’s Degree Average Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture, Engineering, or related field $152,350
Computer Hardware Engineers Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Engineering, Computer Science, or related field $128,170
Compensation and Benefits Managers Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Human Resources, or related field $127,530
Computer Network Architects Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, Information Systems, Engineering, or related field $120,520
Nuclear Engineers Bachelor’s Degree in Nuclear Engineering $120,380
Physical Scientists Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Science, Engineering, Chemistry, Physics, or related field $104,100
Industrial Production Managers Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, Industrial Engineering, or related field $103,150
Top Executives Bachelor’s Degree in Business, Public Administration, Law, or related field $98,980
Mining and Geological Engineers Bachelor’s Degree in Mining Engineering $97,090
Environmental Engineers Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Engineering or related field $96,820

Best Careers With a Bachelor’s Degree, Explained

A bachelor’s degree can qualify you for extremely lucrative jobs. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, all occupations in business, management, and sales expected to experience fast growth in coming years require a bachelor’s degree. Below, we dig deeper into the most profitable jobs accessible with a bachelor’s degree.

1

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Average Salary: $152,350

Architectural and engineering managers put their knowledge of architecture and engineering principles to good use at the helm of teams in construction and manufacturing sites, to name just a few common workplaces. These professionals usually enter the field with an architecture or engineering bachelor’s degree.

2

Computer Hardware Engineers

Average Salary: $128,170

Given the importance of what they do, it is clear why computer hardware engineers earn so much . These professionals design the machinery behind modern computers. To be able to do so, they usually complete a Bachelor’s in Computer Science or Computer Engineering.

3

Compensation and Benefits Managers

Average Salary: $127,530

Employee payroll is an essential part of any business, and that’s why these experts get paid so highly. Compensation and benefits managers put together and oversee systems to pay workers. They often acquire the knowledge needed to do this through a human resource or business undergraduate program.

4

Computer Network Architects

Average Salary: $120,520

One of the highest-paid positions with an undergraduate degree, computer network architects are responsible for designing the data communication networks that are essential in any modern office, including LANs, WANs, and intranets. Most computer network architects graduate from school with a computer science or engineering bachelor’s.

5

Nuclear Engineers

Average Salary: $120,380

The demand for these professionals stems from the fact that nuclear energy is considered to be reliable and cost-effective. Nuclear engineers design nuclear reactors as well as the processes and systems required to produce nuclear energy. They learn the trade by pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering or another type of engineering.

6

Physical Scientists

Average Salary: $104,100

“Physical scientist” is an umbrella term that describes professionals who study non-living systems to come up with solutions to some of life’s greatest challenges. Physicists, chemists, astronomers, and geologists are all physical scientists. Some common physical science degrees are environmental science, engineering, chemistry, and physics.

7

Industrial Production Managers

Average Salary: $103,150

These professionals ensure manufacturing facilities operate efficiently. To do so, they need technical knowledge as well as expertise in management techniques, which can be acquired through a degree in business administration or industrial engineering. To get this job, you also need communication skills and some experience in the field.

8

Top Executives

Average Salary: $98,980

Contrary to popular belief, many top executives haven’t earned a graduate degree. Many managed to climb the corporate ladder armed with just a bachelor’s, often in a field like business administration, law, or public administration. These are the people making high-level decisions about a business such as which revenue opportunities to pursue.

9

Mining and Geological Engineers

Average Salary: $97,090

Earning just below the six-figure salary mark, mining and geological engineers locate mineral deposits and design the mines that will allow the safe extraction of valuable minerals such as quartz and rhodium. Aspiring mining engineers often enroll in a Bachelor's Degree in Mining Engineering.

10

Environmental Engineers

Average Salary: $96,820

Tasked with tackling enormous environmental challenges like deforestation, water and air pollution, or even climate change, these professionals are handsomely rewarded for their efforts. They often attend college to study environmental engineering and learn engineering principles, biology, chemistry, and soil science.

How to List a Bachelor’s Degree on Your Resume

Listing your bachelor’s degree on your resume is important, even if you attended an online degree program. As with the rest of your resume, the number one rule is to be consistent, so include the same information for all the listed degrees. For each degree, you want to list the university, its location, and, of course, the title of the degree.

You should list the full title of your degree. However, if you are running out of space, you may use the corresponding acronym for the type of degree, such as BA for Bachelor of Arts or BS for Bachelor of Science. A college education is important to employers, so you can leave out elementary education and high school credentials.

In a separate, indented bullet point you can list honors that were obtained during that degree, such as writing awards or induction into a certain organization. If you graduated recently with a high GPA, you may want to include it too. Unless you are a recent grad, you can leave out attendance dates.

If you recently graduated from college, you may want to have your education section high up in your resume. If you have plenty of work experience, then place it closer to the bottom. Also important is to always list your degree in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent one.

Is a Bachelor’s Degree Worth It?

Yes, a bachelor’s degree is most certainly worth it. Earning your bachelor’s degree is a good predictor of higher income. As reported by the National Center for Education Statistics, the difference between the median salaries of bachelor’s degree holders and associate degree graduates is more than $15,700 a year.

Job stability and security are also likely to increase if you further your education with a bachelor’s degree. Finally, a bachelor’s degree can open the doors to many white-collar jobs and mid-level positions. Many management and executive positions require a bachelor’s degree. Becoming an engineer or scientist of any type is hard without a bachelor’s to prove your expertise.

If you are still on the fence about whether or not to advance your education with a bachelor’s, the answer is really quite simple. If you are looking for a higher salary, job stability, and more responsibility at work, earning your bachelor’s is the right decision.

Bachelor’s Degree FAQ

What is a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year undergraduate program where students study a specific subject. Upon completing the program, students receive an academic degree and have the skills needed to work in related career fields.

What are some of the most popular bachelor’s degrees?

Ten of the most popular undergraduate majors are Business Administration, Psychology, Biology, Accounting, Communications, English, Criminal Justice, Marketing, General Studies, and Nursing.

What are the types of bachelor’s degrees?

The three most popular types of bachelor’s degrees are Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). The vast majority of people get a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science because they offer a more broad education.

What is an associate degree?

An associate degree is an academic degree that takes about two years to complete. Some associate degree programs are highly technical. They’re designed to prepare you for a career in a specific field. Other programs focus on more general studies.

About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.

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Brandon Woods

About the author: As an editor and writer for Career Karma, Brandon covers developments in higher education, job training, and tech careers. After studying media arts at Kennesaw State University, Brandon has drawn on his extensive experience in technology, writing for companies like Udemy, Staples, LG, and a host of small businesses. Since joining the Career Karma team in February 2020, Brandon has used his technological expertise, as well as his exceptional media skills, to allow individuals to connect with schools, careers, and technology.

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