A college degree is the best opportunity to get some better career options and a higher salary.
According to the data, those who have a college degree have better salaries that non-degree workers.
Also, these people can find employment easier and unemployment rates for them are significantly lower.
If you want to obtain a college degree, first of all, you need to decide on the type of degree you are interested in.
As you may suggest, there is a whole variety of degrees and each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.
In other words, it is impossible to name only one “right” type of college degree and its value depends on various aspects including a schedule offered by different colleges.
Also, you need to take into consideration the requirements of the career you are interested in so you can choose the option that will help you achieve your goal.
In other words, if you want to become a doctor, a bachelor of arts in history won’t work for you and the best option for you will be an undergraduate degree in biology.
Those who are interested in a business career should give preference to a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) however it is not the only possible path.
You’ll be surprised but most successful businessmen don’t have an MBA.
In fact, there are lots of education options that can meet your needs.
In this article, you can find info about various types of college degrees and their specifics.
Article Table of Contents
Professional Certificates and Licenses
In some cases, a professional certificate or license can be a better option than a college degree.
It especially works for those interested in some economics.
Also, this option can provide you with no less success in work than a college education especially when it comes to tech fields where your skills are more important than college credentials.
Moreover, this option is significantly cheaper than traditional college degrees.
While college degree programs pay more attention to liberal arts education, certification programs aim to help you develop a certain set of skills relevant for your future career.
At the same time, sometimes, these programs can be way too much skill-focused and lack of depth.
Just keep in mind that it doesn’t mean that one or other option is better is they differ significantly.
For example, if you want to work as an electrical engineer, a college degree can be a better option for you.
At the same time, those who are interested in an electrician career should give preference to professional certification.
You also should remember that certification is much cheaper than a college degree.
Usually, its cost ranges from $5000 to $15 000 while a college degree price can two and even three times higher.
A professional certification is an excellent option for those who have some financial difficulties.
One other point that it can be obtained faster than a college degree.
A college degree program completion requires about 4 years while a certification program can be completed in 1-2 years.
There are lots of career options that require certification or licensing.
In some cases, these two terms can be considered as synonymous.
The requirements of licensing and certification vary significantly from state to state and regulated by the local government.
In some states, to be able to obtain your license, you need to complete your certification first of all.
Before making a choice to apply for a certification program, you need to consider your future career requirements.
Speaking of a college degree, most people think about an undergraduate bachelor’s degree.
Nevertheless, there are a few types of undergraduate degrees including associate degrees.
Also, this type of degree is known as post-secondary degrees as they are obtained after school graduation and before a graduate degree.
Usually, an undergraduate degree program contains general, elective and core or major classes.
The general part usually includes such aspects as writing, mathematics, science, and history.
When it comes to majors, it is core subjects that aim to provide you with all the necessary knowledge and skills in your specific sphere of interest.
Elective classes are closely related to majors but students choose only those they really need and interested in.
Usually, the list of general classes is the same for all students that get their training in the same college.
Majors are determined by departments and elective courses are chosen by students themselves.
In the USA, there are two types of undergraduate degrees – Associate and Bachelor.
It is community colleges that offer associate degree programs but sometimes it is provided by some vocational schools and four-year colleges.
To obtain an Associate degree, you need to complete a two-year full-time program.
Usually, this type of undergraduate degree aims to prepare students who want to obtain a bachelor’s degree in the future.
Also, this type of degree is known as an occupational degree and it is a perfect option for students who want to pursue a certain career.
Speaking of a bachelor’s degree, it is provided by major colleges and universities and requires 4 years of full-time studies.
This degree is great for both students interested in a certain career, and those who want to obtain a graduate degree.
Applying for an associate degree, students usually have one of two reasons for this decision.
The first one is to obtain some training required for a certain career.
The second is to use it as a stepping stone for some further training and get ready for a four-year training program.
This type of degree is also known as a transfer degree.
Of course, not all associate degrees can be considered as transfer degrees and it depends on the college.
If you are interested in a transfer degree, you need to make sure that it allows you transferring your credits.
In most cases, regionally accredited colleges and universities are ready to transfer only those credits earned at colleges that are also regionally accredited.
It means that you need to make sure that the college you’ve chosen is regionally accredited.
Applying for a transfer program, you can complete most general classes that are included in a four-year bachelor training.
However, make sure to check whether your credits can be transferred to the bachelor’s degree program you are interested in.
As we’ve already mentioned, associate degrees are degree programs that require 2 years of full-time training and are provided by community colleges, vocational schools, and some 4-year colleges.
There are some schools that provide accelerated training programs for those interested in an associate degree.
You aren’t obliged to obtain an associate degree before applying for a bachelor’s degree, however, there are some benefits.
The first one is the lower credits price.
In most cases, after completing an associate degree you can transfer your credits when applying for a bachelor’s degree.
In such a way, you can reduce the price of your bachelor’s degree.
Just make sure, you obtain your associate’s degree at a regionally accredited college.
Also, it is an easy option for anyone who wants to enter the workplace as soon as possible and interested in some entry-level careers.
If you are interested in some skills-oriented training, an associate’s degree provided by a vocational school or a tech training center is a perfect option for you.
During your training, you’ll be able to obtain all the skills and knowledge required for your future career.
Also, this type of associate’s degree is known as an occupational degree.
Among the most popular types of associate’s degrees, there is the Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.) and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.).
In most cases, A.A. is considered a transfer degree and most students apply for it so they can transfer their credits for a bachelor’s degree program.
Nevertheless, A.A. can be an occupational degree as well.
As well as A.A., A.S. is mainly known as a transfer degree and considered a great stepping stone for students interested in a bachelor’s degree.
While A.A. provides education oriented on liberal arts, A.S. – it is a training that is focused on science.
The A.A.S. is known as an occupational degree and aims to help students get ready for their future careers.
The list of associate’s degrees includes such options as:
- AA – Associate of Arts;
- AAA – Associate of Applied Arts;
- AE – Associate of Engineering or Associate in Electronics Engineering Technology;
- AS – Associate of Science;
- AGS – Associate of General Studies;
- ASN – Associate of Science in Nursing;
- AF – Associate of Forestry;
- AT – Associate of Technology;
- AAB – Associate of Applied Business;
- AAS – Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Arts and Sciences;
- AAT – Associate of Arts in Teaching;
- ABS – Associate of Baccalaureate Studies;
- ABA – Associate of Business Administration;
- AES – Associate of Engineering Science;
- ADN – Associate Degree in Nursing;
- AET – Associate in Engineering Technology;
- AFA – Associate of Fine Arts;
- APE – Associate of Pre-Engineering;
- AIT – Associate of Industrial Technology;
- AOS – Associate of Occupational Studies;
- ASPT-APT – Associate in Physical Therapy;
- APS – Associate of Political Science or Associate of Public Service.
In most cases, when someone says he or she is going to obtain a college degree, the speak about a four-year bachelor’s training program.
This degree is a type of undergraduate degree that is provided by colleges and universities all over the country.
This type of degree is one of the most popular and most employers looking for employees for entry-level positions give preference to people with a bachelor’s degree.
Usually, these training programs consist of three main parts: general, major, and elective courses.
General classes mainly have some liberal art focus and are the same for all students in the college.
Major classes focus on your specialty field and aim to provide you with the knowledge and skills you need for your future career.
Electives are chosen by students individually and aim to provide you with some additional knowledge related to your major.
If you already have an associate degree obtained at a regionally accredited college, you can transfer some of your credits to your bachelor’s degree training.
There are some types of bachelor’s degrees such as the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.).
The first one is focused on liberal arts while the second one pays attention to technical disciplines and applied sciences.
Just keep in mind that their designation depends on your college.
For example, in most cases, engineering is considered a B.S. but there are some colleges that award it as a B.A.
There are colleges that offer a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and those that provide a Bachelor of Science in Economics.
The list of bachelor’s degrees includes a whole variety of options such as:
- Bachelor of Architecture (BArch);
- Bachelor of Arts (BA, AB, BS, BSc, SB, ScB);
- Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA);
- Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science (BAAS);
- Bachelor of Applied Science in Information Technology (BAppSc(IT));
- Bachelor of Design (BDes, or SDes in Indonesia);
- Bachelor of Engineering (BEng, BE, BSE, BSc, BEng, BASc, BTech, BSc(Eng), AMIE, GradIETE);
- Bachelor of Science in Business (BSBA);
- Bachelor of Engineering Technology (BSET);
- Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech. or B.Tech.);
- International Business Economics (BIBE);
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA);
- Bachelor of Management Studies (BMS);
- Bachelor of Administrative Studies;
- Bachelor of International Business Economics (BIBE);
- Bachelor of Commerce (BCom, or BComm);
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA);
- Bachelor of Business (BBus or BBus);
- Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies (BMOS);
- Bachelor of Business Science (BBusSc);
- Bachelor of Accountancy (B.Acy. or B.Acc. or B. Accty);
- Bachelor of Comptrolling (B.Acc.Sci. or B.Compt.);
- Bachelor of Economics (BEc, BEconSc; sometimes BA(Econ) or BSc(Econ));
- Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Management (BAOM);
- Bachelor of Computer Science (BCompSc);
- Bachelor of Computing (BComp);
- Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSc IT);
- Bachelor of Computer Applications (BCA);
- Bachelor of Business Information Systems (BBIS);
- Intercalated Bachelor of Science (BSc);
- Bachelor of Medical Science (BMedSci);
- Bachelor of Medical Biology (BMedBiol);
- Bachelor of Science in Public Health (BSPH);
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BN, BNSc, BScN, BSN, BNurs, BSN, BHSc.);
- Bachelor of Health Science (BHS & BHSc);
- Bachelor of Kinesiology (BKin, BSc(Kin), BHK);
- Bachelor of Arts for Teaching (BAT);
- Bachelor of Aviation (BAvn);
- Bachelor of Divinity (BD or BDiv);
- Bachelor of Theology (B.Th.; Th.B. or BTheol);
- Bachelor of Religious Education (BRE);
- Bachelor of Religious Studies (BRS);
- Bachelor of Film and Television (BF&TV);
- Bachelor of Integrated Studies (BIS);
- Bachelor of Journalism (BJ, BAJ, BSJ or BJourn);
- Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (BLArch);
- Bachelor of Liberal Arts (B.L.A.; occasionally A.L.B.);
- Bachelor of General Studies (BGS, BSGS);
- Bachelor of Science in Human Biology (BSc);
- Bachelor of Applied Studies (BAS);
- Bachelor of Liberal Studies;
- Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS);
- Bachelor of Library Science (B.L.S., B.Lib.);
- Bachelor of Library and Information Science (B.L.I.S.);
- Bachelor of Music (BM or BMus);
- Bachelor of Art in Music (BA in Music);
- Bachelor of Music Education (BME);
- Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil, PhB);
- Bachelor of Arts in Psychology (BAPSY);
- Bachelor of Mortuary Science (BMS);
- Bachelor of Science in Psychology (BSc(Psych);
- Bachelor of Science in Education (BSE, BS in Ed);
- Bachelor of Science and/with education degree (BScEd);
- Bachelor of Science in Forestry (B.S.F. or B.Sc.F.);
- Bachelor of Applied Science (BASc);
- Bachelor of Science in Law (BSL);
- Bachelor of Social Science (BSocSc);
- Bachelor of Arts in Social Work (BSW or BASW);
- Bachelor of Talmudic Law (BTL);
- Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech);
- Bachelor of Tourism Studies (BTS);
- Bachelor of Mathematics (BMath);
- Bachelor of Mathematical Sciences (BMathSc);
- Bachelor of Public Affairs and Policy Management (BPAPM);
- Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning (BURP and BPlan).
To complete a traditional bachelor’s degree program, you need 4-5 years of training.
However, there are colleges that offer some accelerated bachelor’s degree programs that can be completed in a shorter period of time.
Usually, it is online training programs for those interested in distance learning.
Also, this type of degree is required for those who want to obtain a graduate and post-graduate degree.
A graduate degree- it is an advanced degree that has a focus on a certain academic field or even a discipline such as law, medicine, and so on.
Mostly, to apply for this type of degree, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in some related spheres.
Also, this type of degree had an academic nature and was oriented on research but nowadays it is mostly focused on applied science and has a professional nature.
There are some degrees that focus on both professional and academic issues.
To complete your training and obtain a graduate degree, you need from 2 to 8 years.
In most cases, these training programs don’t include general courses and pay more attention to major disciplines.
Also, they have higher educational standards that mean that students should be able to perform more difficult tasks and independent researches.
Moreover, they are quite competitive in many ways as it is not only hard to apply for it but to complete it as well.
A master’s degree is a type of graduate degree students can apply for after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
This degree is more rigorous than a bachelor’s degree but usually, you need only 2 years to complete it.
It doesn’t involve any general subjects and is focused solely on specific disciplines and spheres.
In most cases, a master’s degree has a professional nature so students can get some advanced skills required for their future careers.
There are lots of employers that give preference to employees with a master’s degree.
Among the main reasons to obtain a master’s degree, there are:
- Increase career advancement opportunities;
- Make a career change;
- Qualify for entry-level career positions;
- Transition into a managerial/supervisory role;
- Increase earning potential;
- Become more marketable.
There more than 100 types of master’s degrees available in the USA.
Among the most popular there are the Master of Arts (M.A.), Master of Science (M.S.) and Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.).
The M.A. focuses on liberal arts such as history, humanities, philosophy, or social science.
As you may suggest, the M.S. degree is focused on science, mainly applied science such as engineering.
The M.F.A. degree is focused on performing and visual arts.
Among the available options there are:
- Master of Accountancy (MAcc, MAc, or MAcy);
- Master of Advanced Study (MAS);
- Master of Economics (MEcon);
- Master of Architecture (MArch);
- Master of Applied Science (MASc, MAppSc, MApplSc, MASc, and MAS);
- Master of Arts (MA, MA, AM, or AM);
- Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT);
- Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MA, ALM, MLA, MLS or MALS);
- Master of Business (MBus);
- Master of Business Administration (MBA or MBA);
- Master of Business Informatics (MBI);
- Master of City Planning;
- Master of Chemistry (MChem);
- Master of Commerce (MCom or MComm);
- Master of Computational Finance (or Quantitative Finance);
- Master of Computer Applications (MCA);
- Master in Creative Technologies;
- Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ);
- Master of Design (MDes, MDes or MDesign);
- Master of Divinity (MDiv);
- Master of Economics (MEcon);
- Master of Education (MEd, MEd, EdM, MAEd, MSEd, MSE, or MEdL);
- Master of Enterprise (MEnt);
- Master of Engineering (MEng, ME or MEng);
- Master of Engineering Management (MEM);
- Master of European Law (LLM Eur);
- Master of Finance (MFin);
- Master of Financial Mathematics (Master of Quantitative Finance);
- Master of Financial Engineering (Master of Quantitative Finance);
- Master of Financial Economics;
- Master of Fine Arts (MFA, MFA);
- Master of Health Administration (MHA);
- Master of Health Science (MHS);
- Master of Humanities (MH);
- Master of Industrial and Labor Relations (MILR);
- Master of International Affairs;
- Master of International Business;
- Master of International Studies (MIS);
- Masters in International Economics;
- Master of Information System Management (abbreviated MISM, MSIM, MIS or similar);
- Master of IT (abbreviated MSIT, MScIT, MScIT, MScIT or MSc IT);
- Master of Jurisprudence (MJ or MJur);
- Master of Laws (LLM or LLM);
- Master of Studies in Law (MSL);
- Master of Landscape Architecture (MArch);
- Master of Letters (MLitt);
- Master of Liberal Arts (MA, ALM, MLA, MLS or MALS);
- Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS);
- Master of Management (MM);
- Master of Mathematics (or MMath);
- Master of Mathematical Finance;
- Master of Medical Science;
- Master of Music (MM or MMus);
- Master of Occupational Therapy (OT);
- Master of Pharmacy (MPharm or MPharm);
- Master of Philosophy (MPhil);
- Master of Physics (MPhys);
- Master of Physician Assistant Studies;
- Master of Political Science;
- Master of Professional Studies (MPS or MPS);
- Master of Public Administration (MPA);
- Master of Public Affairs (MPAff);
- Master of Public Health (MPH);
- Master of Public Management;
- Master of Public Policy (MPP);
- Master of Quantitative Finance;
- Master of Rabbinic Studies (MRb);
- Master of Real Estate Development;
- Master of Religious Education;
- Master of Research – MSc(R);
- Master of Sacred Theology (STM);
- Master of Sacred Music (MSM);
- Master of Science (MSc, MSc, MSci, MSi, ScM, MS, MSHS, MS, Mag, Mg, Mgr, SM, or SM);
- Master of Science in Education;
- Master of Science in Engineering (MSE);
- Master of Science in Finance (MFin);
- Master of Science in Human Resource Development (HRD or MSHRD);
- Master of Science in Information Systems Management (MSMIS);
- Master of Science in Information Systems (MSIS);
- Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT, MScIT, MScIT, MScIT or MSc IT);
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN);
- Master of Science in Project Management (MSPM);
- Master of Science in Management (MSc or MSM);
- Master of Science in Leadership (MSL);
- Master of Science in Supply Chain Management (SCM or MSSCM);
- Master of Science in Taxation;
- Master of Science in Teaching (MST);
- Master of Social Work (MSW);
- Master of Social Science (MSSc);
- Master of Surgery (ChM or MS, as well as MCh and MChir);
- Master of Studies (MSt or MSt);
- Master of Theology (ThM or MTh);
- Master of Theological Studies (MTS);
- Master of Urban Planning;
- Master of Veterinary Science (MVSC or MVSc).
A doctoral degree is one other type of graduate degrees and it is quite similar to master’s degrees.
To complete this degree, you need 2 to 6 years of training.
In most cases, to be able to apply for this degree, you need to obtain a master’s degree first of all.
In some cases, you can apply for it with a bachelor’s degree if you meet some other requirements.
It is known as a terminal degree as it is the highest one that can be obtained in a certain field.
All these programs are really difficult, challenging, and requires lots of hard work as well as a full-time commitment.
Nowadays, this type of degree aims to provide students with some advanced skills and knowledge in a specific sphere.
There are 4 main types of doctoral degrees:
- Professional Doctorate aims to provide students with advanced skills and knowledge required for a specific profession. For example, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a popular option for students interested in careers in business.
- Research Doctorate focuses mainly on researches. Usually, students who applied for this type of doctoral degree perform research for government, in academia, or in the private sector. The most popular options are the Ph.D. and Doctor of Philosophy.
- Higher Doctorate is less common than the previous ones in the United States. This tiered research degree is more popular in the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, and some other countries.
- Honorary Doctorate aims to award people who have some significant contribution and achievements within a certain field. It is provided only by a few universities in the country.
One other type of graduate degree is a professional degree.
It is required for people who want to get a license so they can start working in a certain field.
Usually, it is obtained by people who want to work in a medical or law spheres.
To be able to apply for it, you need to have a bachelor’s degree but in some cases, you are required to complete a master’s degree program.
Also, this type of graduate degree is called “First Professional Degrees”.
A specialist degree is one other type of graduate degree and it can be obtained after completing a master’s degree.
Usually, this degree aims to provide students with some additional expertise in a specific field and prepare students for the state licensure process.
For example, if you want to become a school principal, you need to obtain an Ed.S. degree which is an example of a specialist degree.