MA, MBA, BS, MS, MSW, PhD – What Does It Stand For?

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MA, MBA, BS, MS, MSW, PhD - What Does It Stand For?

There are lots of benefits of obtaining a degree, be it associate, B.A., M.A. or Ph.D.

Of course, obtaining a degree can be quite expensive but still, there are lots of people who consider it a good investment.

Nevertheless, making a decision about a degree, you want or need to obtain, you need to understand what all these acronyms mean.

Also, what is the difference between, for example, a B.B.A. and a BSN?

If you want to learn about all these aspects, keep reading the article.

In this article, you can find information about all the available degrees and their specifics.

Associate Degrees

Full-time students can obtain an associate degree in two years but part-time students may need more time to complete their training.

It is an undergraduate degree and it can be obtained at vocational schools, community, and technical colleges as well as some universities.

There are 3 main categories of an associate degree:

  • A.A. – Associate of Arts
  • A.S – Associate of Science
  • A.A.S – Associate of Applied Science

If you are interested in technical or vocational career options, an associate degree is a perfect option for you.

You just need to get some post-secondary education to enroll in one of these careers.

It is a formal degree that can be obtained in the shortest period of time and with minimal expenses.

Also, it is a perfect stepping stone for those who plan to get a four-year degree in the future.

After completing such training program, you can transfer your credits towards a bachelor’s degree.

“Graduates with an associate degree had median annual salary of $50,230, compared with $36,210 for high school graduates. They also had a better unemployment rate.” *Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

A.A. Associate of Arts

The associate of arts – it is an entry-level undergraduate degree that can be obtained after completion of two years of training.

It can be obtained at junior or community college, trade school or technical school.

Most students apply for it to make it easier to get a bachelor’s degree in the future.

A.S. Associate of Science

A.S. Associate of Science is similar to A.A and it can be obtained just after two years of full-time training.

To obtain this degree, you need to complete a program related to science or technology.

Read more: Associate Vs. Traditional Education: Differences & Similarities

Bachelor’s Degrees

Most students tend to apply for a bachelor’s degree.

In other words, it is one of the most popular degree options when it comes to post-secondary education.

Also, it is a minimal training requirement for a whole variety of career options.

To obtain this degree, in most cases, you need to complete a four-year training program on a full-time basis.

Nevertheless, in some cases, you may need more time to obtain this degree or you can apply for an accelerated course and obtain your degree faster.

There are two main types of degree – Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.).

Also, there are some other variants usually related to some more specific areas such as Science in Nursing.

Typical Bachelor’s degree course contains 120-semester credits and half of them is general and liberal art disciplines.

The other half – it is subjects related to your majors.

“Bachelor’s degree holders had median annual wages of $70,400 in 2015 — nearly twice the median wages for all occupations and nearly $20,000 more per year than graduates with an associate degree.” *Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

B.A. Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Arts is a perfect option for those who want to pursue a career in such fields as liberal arts, humanities or social sciences such as English, creative writing, fine arts or political science.

To obtain it, you need to complete a 4-year program provided by a traditional school or university.

B.S. Bachelor of Science

Bachelor of Science is a perfect choice for students interested in science and technical areas.

B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts

If you are interested in art history, theater, photography, and film studies, Bachelor of Fine Arts is exactly what you need.

B.B.A. Bachelor of Business Administration

Bachelor of Business Administration is a perfect degree option for anyone who wants to work in such spheres as management, accounting, marketing, etc.

B.Arch Bachelor of Architecture

Anyone, interested in architecture career, should apply for Bachelor of Architecture.

BSN Bachelor of Science in Nursing

This technical and hands-on training oriented degree is an ideal option for those who want to obtain a nursing license.

B.E. Bachelor of Engineering

Those who are interested in electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and computer engineering, should apply for a Bachelor of Engineering degree.

Master’s Degrees

Master’s degree – it is a graduate-level training course.

You need about two years of full-time studies to complete it.

You can apply for this program only after obtaining a bachelor’s degree.

According to the data, most graduate students have a full-time job so colleges and universities tend to offer flexible schedules for them.

In such a case, you need more than 2 years to complete your training but it will allow you balancing between your work and studies.

As we’ve already mentioned, you need to have a bachelor’s degree to be able to apply for a master’s degree.

It is a great opportunity to advance your career options or enter a career field that requires a higher level of education.

There are three the most popular master’s degree options:

  • M.A. – Master of Arts
  • M.S. – Master of Science
  • M.B.A. –  Master of Business Administration

“The BLS predicts 13.8% growth in employment for master’s degree holders between 2014 and 2024 — the highest of any level of education.” *Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

M.A. Master of Arts

This graduate-level degree is the best option for students interested in the humanities, social sciences or fine arts.

M.B.A. Master of Business Administration

You can obtain the Master of Business Administration after completing business administration or management-oriented training program.

Training programs offered for this degree usually oriented around subjects that are closely related to business disciplines such as marketing, accounting, and analysis.

M.S. Master of Science

If you are interested in science and technologies, the Master of Science is a perfect option for you.

M.S.W. Master of Social Work

The Master of Social Work is similar to M.B.A.  as it is closely related to social work and most programs are based on related subjects.

Usually, these programs comply with a clinical track or practice track.

The first one is related to work with patients while the second one – to policy, politics, and management.

Doctoral Degrees

A Doctoral degree is the highest academic degree and it can be obtained only in a university.

To complete your training, you need from 3 to 8 years and sometimes even more, depending on the field you are interested in.

Some doctoral degree programs are available only to those who have a bachelor’s degree while others can be obtained after completing an undergraduate program.

There is a variety of Doctoral degree options but the most popular is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

After completing this degree program, you can work as a teacher in a university or apply for some careers that require extensive training.

For example, psychologists and medical doctors need a doctoral degree if they want to be licensed.

“Workers with a doctoral degree had both the highest median annual salaries — more than $100,000 — and the lowest unemployment of any level of educational attainment.” *Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy

To begin with, Doctor of Philosophy is a degree that is not only for philosophers.

It is related to a whole variety of disciplines.

Usually, it is programs that are oriented on some intensive researches.

You can apply for it if you already have a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree.

Psy.D. Doctor of Psychology

This doctoral degree is quite similar to the standard doctorate.

However, it is a good choice only for those who are interested in psychology.


What Do Those Letters Stand For?

These letters can be divided into two parts.

The first letter indicates the level of the degree:

  • B – bachelor’s degree;
  • M – master’s degree;
  • D – doctoral degree.

The second part of the abbreviation stands for the field of training:

  • S -science;
  • A -arts:
  • Ph – philosophy and so on.

What Is the Difference Between Arts and Science Degrees?

As we’ve said before, there are two main types of degree fields – art and science.

Usually, art degrees cover a wide range of disciplines and issues.

At the same time, being a “science” student means you need to have some deep, technical understanding of your field of interest.

What Designations Exist for Doctoral Students?

When it comes to liberal art disciplines, Ph.D. or Doctor of Philosophy is the highest degree you can obtain.

At the same time, those interested in clinical and counseling psychology can obtain PsyD, Doctor of Psychology degree.

Medical students can apply for an M.D. degree and law students – for J.D. (Juris Doctor) degree.

What Other Specialized Degrees Exist?

Among other degrees, there are Master of Social Work (MSW), Doctor of Social Work (DSW), Master of Education degree (MaEd), Master of Business Administration (MBA), or Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).

After learning about all the available degree options and their specifications, you can make the right choice.

Just make sure to check various school to find the program that suits your needs most of all.

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