Back to Basics: Understanding the Types of Degrees Out There


Upon graduating high school and receiving your diploma, there are many different types of degrees to consider to continue pursuing your education. Whether you choose to earn your degree at a traditional campus or at an online university, your degree will open up the door to many opportunities to excel in your desired career.


From professional certificates to doctoral degrees, the varying levels of education offer something different for everyone. Each degree takes a different amount of time, energy and money to complete, but regardless of the higher education you choose to pursue, there is no doubt that you are expanding your possibilities by earning credentials and degrees.



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Why Degrees Matter

A college degree serves as a signal to your prospective employers about your hard work and commitment. It showcases your interests and lets them know what subject matter you are well versed in. Even beyond providing you with a degree or certificate, a college experience offers you many life skills that are transferable in your personal life, as well as your professional career.


From learning how to manage your time to honing your communication and presentation skills, a college degree will help you develop into a more well-rounded person and positively impact your earning potential.



Types of Degrees

A university degree is not one size fits all. Depending on how much time you want to spend earning a degree, the level at which you want to graduate, your financial situation and more, you can start with the most basic types of certificates or continue to earn your post-graduate and doctoral degree.


Let’s take a look at the various types of degrees and their respective requirements:





Associate’s: An Associate’s degree generally takes two years to complete and offers you the foundational knowledge of a subject. It is a good degree to pursue to solidify an entry-level position. Sometimes, the degree credits you earn during your Associate’s can be applied towards your Bachelor’s degree. However, an Associate’s degree is not necessary to enroll in a Bachelor’s program.


Bachelor’s: A Bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete and can be a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). More specialized subject matters like Engineering may grant you a specific degree called a Bachelor’s of Engineering (B.E.). A B.S. has more science and math classes than a humanities-based B.A. and may require more degree credits.





The division of graduate degrees are more specialized and complex than undergraduate degrees. They can be divided into three types, namely: Master’s, Doctorate and Professional.


Master’s: Depending on if you want to continue with academia or advance in your profession, Master’s degrees can either be professional or academic. A Master’s of Science (M.S.) and a Master’s of Arts (M.A.) mirror a B.A. and B.S. in terms of their types of requirements. For degrees that are in particular subject matters, such as Business or Education, you will receive a Master’s degree with that title, such as a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA) or Master’s of Education (M.Ed).


Doctorate: There are many different types of doctoral degrees, but the most common is a Doctor of Philosophy, also known as a PhD. In most countries, this is the highest degree you can earn. There are some options to earn these degrees online, but in most cases, they are earned on campus because they require research. Other doctoral degrees include: Doctor of Law, Doctor of Medicine, and Doctor of Physical Therapy, to name a few.


Professional: Professional degrees are graduate degrees that are needed to work in certain careers. For example, people who become doctors and go to medical school earn their M.D. (medical doctor degree) and those who earn their law degree receive a Juris Doctorate (J.D.).



Additional Degree Types

Some people earn their undergraduate degrees from more than one institution. They start at a community college or online and then transfer their degree to a different institution where the credits they have earned transfer over to count towards their final degree. This may happen because they want to save money or because they didn’t perform well enough to be accepted into the university of their choice upon graduating high school. No matter the reason why, you should check with the institution of your choosing to see if they will accept transfer credits.


At University of the People, students who have earned credit coursework elsewhere have the option to transfer these units over to accrue towards their prospective degree, thereby ensuring that no work goes to waste.


There are also degrees that provide certificates rather than a degree. Such professional/specialist degrees are intended for those who wish to gain specific skills for their trade and then enter the workforce.



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Traditional vs. Online: Pros and Cons

Depending on the degree you want to earn, you can choose to study online. Earning your degree online comes with its own set of benefits.


With an online degree, you can study from anywhere. Perhaps you live in a country where access to high-quality education is unavailable, or you may have a family you need to be home to take care of. Regardless of your situation, the flexibility and accessibility of online schools offer many people the chance at pursuing their degree hassle-free.


Additionally, online universities tend to be less expensive than their traditional counterparts because there is little to no overhead costs. To illustrate, University of the People is tuition-free. The only fees associated with earning your Associate’s, Bachelor’s, or Master’s degree is a single-time application fee and following course assessment fees.


However, there are some degrees like an M.D. that are not conducive to online studying because the practical experience is necessary. However, most other jobs and career paths respect online degrees and employers are continuously accepting those who graduate from online universities to work in their organizations.



The Bottom Line

Before deciding what you want to study, assess your career objectives. Then, you can conduct research to know the necessary requirements and degree type that will most benefit your goals.


While some people enjoy to continue their higher education, others are satisfactory with a professional certificate. Regardless of your situation, you can earn such degrees online at a cheaper cost than traditional institutions.


Furthermore, when you have any type of degree, you are setting yourself up for more possibilities because you have the required knowledge and skill set to be successful on the job.




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