Types of College Degrees

When deciding on an educational path, it is important to understand the many degree, diploma, and certificate options available. These options will differ greatly in the amount of time needed to earn them, where you can earn them, the type of prestige they carry, and their relevance to your industry and/or career.

Certificates are awarded upon completion of a specialized training program. Certificate programs are generally short in duration and prepare you for both practical application of the skills learned and for standardized testing within the specific field for which you were trained.

Diplomas are awarded after completion of a specialized training program and are generally obtained post-certification, which means that a Diploma program further trains you in the specialized skills you acquired through a Certificate program. The Diploma program is generally short in duration but requires a lengthier program commitment than the Certificate Program.

An Associate Degree is awarded upon successful completion of a 2-year undergraduate program at a Community or Technical/Vocational/Career college. There are several types of Associate Degrees which include the Associate of Arts (A.A), the Associate of Science (A.S.) and the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S) degrees. The academic and course emphasis for each of these degrees will vary.

A Bachelorís Degree is awarded upon successful completion of a 4-year undergraduate program at a 4-year Baccalaureate College or University. There are several types of Bachelorís Degrees which include the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. There are many other Bachelor Degree programs that offer students a specialization in other academic areas, such as Nursing or Social Work. Students can further specialize in an area of study by obtaining their degree in a specific subject area, such as Math, English, Science, and others.

Graduate Certificate Programs are awarded for successful completion of a graduate certificate program that is post-Baccalaureate but that does not require a Thesis.

A Masterís Degree is awarded upon successful completion of a 2-year graduate program beyond a Bachelorís Degree program. There are several types of Masterís Degrees which include the Master of Arts in Teaching (M.A.T.), the Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.), and the Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) degrees.

A First Professional Degree allows you to practice within a certain profession, such as Dentistry and Veterinary medicine. This degree has several prerequisites including the completion of all course requirements, the completion of at least 2 years of previous college work OR a Bachelorís degree, and a total of at least 6 years total of coursework, including previous coursework. The Doctoral Degree is the highest degree one can earn and requires a lengthy and in-depth period of study. This degree demonstrates mastery in your field of study and has a heavy emphasis on scholarly research. A Doctoral Degree requires at least 3 to 5 years of additional coursework beyond the Masterís Degree. Examples of a Doctorate Degree include the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), the Doctor of Criminology (D. Crim.) and the Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) degrees.

Students can earn any of the above degrees in many other fields of study. It is important to remember that degree programs can be specialized and can emphasize the field of study that is applicable to you.

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