Going to college is a huge step forward for anyone. You choose a major and work toward earning your professional degree. 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.
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 among the four college degree levels. This is due to many high-paying careers having a minimum requirement of a bachelor’s degree.
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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. That is, to earn your master’s degree or doctorate, you need to earn your bachelor’s degree first.
The following is a guide on bachelor’s degrees for those who are interested in pursuing one.
Associate Degree vs Bachelor’s Degree
Associate and bachelor’s degrees are the two types of undergraduate degrees you can pursue. There are a few differences between them, 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, compared to bachelor’s programs that take four years.
Associate degree programs have two types. Some programs are highly technical and designed to prepare you for a career in a specific field. The other is a program that’s focused on more general studies. These programs allow you to transfer your credits toward a bachelor’s degree while earning your associate degree.
Bachelor’s degrees, on the other hand, are focused on a major and you must complete a final project at the end of the program. Before starting courses in your major, you’ll complete two years of general studies. And it’s no coincidence that this is the same amount of time required to complete an associate degree. Bachelor’s degree programs also allow you to take more elective courses, which allows you to also minor in a subject.
Types of Bachelor Degrees
There are several types of bachelor’s degrees. These vary based on your major.
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.
BA programs require you to complete general education courses, along with your major courses. This means you must take 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 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.
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
A BFA is the third most common type of degree. These degree programs emphasize artistic training. You’ll take courses to strengthen your skills in photography, film, theater, art, 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.
How Long Does it Take to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?
A bachelor’s degree program takes around four years to complete. 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.
Popular Undergraduate Majors
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 from these programs work in a wide array of careers, including management and business support positions.
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.
Earning a degree in general psychology opens several career opportunities to you 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.
A biology degree program is filled with students studying life, whether its life in the form of animals or microscopic bacteria. A biology degree allows you to start your career both inside and outside a lab.
Some people who earn their biology degree 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.
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.
Students who major in accounting can expect to earn a starting salary of $44,000 and much more as they gain experience.
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.
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.
English is another popular major amongst bachelor’s degree students. It’s more than just knowing the language; 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 graduates go on to careers with a heavy focus on writing, such as technical writing, scriptwriting, novel writing, or teaching writing.
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.
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.
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.
Many people have a strong inclination towards helping others. 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.
What About Online Bachelor’s Degrees?
With the advancement of technology, there are more opportunities than ever before for people to earn their bachelor’s degree online. 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. But they offer an alternative for individuals who want to pursue their degree from the comfort of their own home. It also gives you the freedom to study through more colleges and universities as their location does not matter.
Look into the colleges and universities you’re interested in and find out what online degree programs they have available. Be sure to check their accreditation.
Should You Get a Bachelor’s 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.
Some people go on to pursue their 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.
Bachelor’s Degree FAQ
A bachelor’s degree is a four-year undergraduate program where students study a specific subject. Upon completing the program, students receive a degree and have the skills needed to work in related career fields.
Ten of the most popular undergraduate majors are Business Administration, Psychology, Biology, Accounting, Communications, English. Criminal Justice, Marketing, General Studies, and Nursing.
The three most popular types of bachelor’s degrees are Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Science (BS), and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).
An associate degree program 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.
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