What Exactly Is A Bachelor’s Degree?

Student with diploma and text: what is a bachelor's degree?

Whether you’re graduating high school or an international student looking to study in the United States, you’ve likely heard about “Bachelor’s Degrees.” But what are they? How are they different from other degrees? And what benefits do you get from them? We’ll answer these questions and more in this article that covers everything you need to know about the programs.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A Bachelor’s Degree generally refers to an undergraduate degree from a four year college or university that is focused on a specific major, also known as a specific area of study or concentration, such as English or computer science.

They can also be called a bachelor’s or bachelors degree.

How Can You Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

Bachelor’s degrees are earned from universities and colleges in the United States. They can take anywhere from three to five years. Most students finish their degree program in four years, but there are exceptions and some students may take over five years to earn theirs. It depends on whether or not the student is attending college full time or part time, for example.

These degrees usually require 120 credit hours, with some programs requesting up to 130.

Where Can You Get One?

Students can get Bachelor’s degrees from four year colleges and universities in the United States. In some cases, they may even be available through community colleges. Individuals can study online, in person, or both online and in person to earn their degree.

What Can You Do With a Bachelor’s Degree?

Many fields and lines of work require a bachelor’s in order to be hired or it may simply be requested by the employer, but not required. Some examples of jobs that may require a bachelor’s include

  • Marketing manager
  • Interior designer
  • Computer hardware engineer
  • Computer network architect
  • Human resource manager
  • Sales manager
  • and more

What Will You Learn in a Four-Year Program?

Generally, bachelor degree programs are focused on general education, electives, and your major or concentration. What you learn will depend on your major and the school’s requirements for the class.

General Education

General education classes, also sometimes known as GEs, cover everything from math to history to English. The amount of courses required to satisfy your general education requirements can vary from school to school.

There is some flexibility with these courses and you may be able to choose classes you’re interested in in order to fill the subject’s need. For example, if you’re required to take two courses on American History, you may be able to choose between classes such as “American Civil War,” “American Prohibition,” “American History Prior to 1880,” “American History After 1880,” and “World War II.”

These courses are usually considered “introductory.” They will not go in depth as some more advanced classes will, but you will round out your education. If you’re undeclared when it comes to your major, you may just find your passion in one of these courses.

Students will usually be required to take courses on:

  • Math
  • English
  • English Composition
  • Natural Science
  • Social Sciences
  • Diversity
  • Humanities, including art, literature, and languages

Major’s Courses

Depending on the school and program, you will have to declare your major during the application process or by the end of your sophomore year. Your major refers to the area of concentration you will study while earning your Bachelor’s degree and will likely impact the careers available to you upon graduation.

BROWSE ALL MAJORS >>

The availability of majors depends on the college, and some challenging and competitive programs, such as engineering, require a separate admissions process in order to be enrolled.

Students are expected to be taking a majority of major-related courses by their junior year of college. Some schools also offer “interdisciplinary majors” where you can design your own program based around your career goals after graduation or “double majors” where you can earn two degrees at once.

In earlier semesters, you will take beginning or introductory courses to your concentration. In later semesters, you will be attending more advanced courses that will help prepare you for graduation and your intended career.

Electives

Major classes and general education courses usually do not make up the 120 credits needed to earn a bachelor’s degree. These remaining classes are called “electives.” They can sometimes be in any subject.

If a student earns enough electives in an area of study, they may also have a minor listed with their degree. A minor is a sort of “secondary major” but does not usually require intensive study as you would with a major. These classes can help round out majors, too.

What Types of Bachelor’s Are There?

There are several four year degrees available, depending on what you study. They include

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.). For liberal arts or the sciences.
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.). For economics or natural sciences
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). For the visual and performing arts
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS). For specialized fields
  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA). Also known as a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) for areas of study in business related subjects.
  • Bachelor of Engineering (BE). For areas of study in engineering

How Does a Bachelor’s Degree Differ from an Associate’s, Master’s, or Doctorate?

An Associates Degree usually takes two years to earn, are generally from community colleges, and is awarded before getting a bachelor’s.

A Master’s Degree is earned only after a completion of a bachelor’s program. The program takes about 2 years, requires a thesis to graduate, and is offered by universities only.

A doctorate, Doctor’s Degree, or Ph.D is usually only pursued after a Master’s degree is earned, though there are exceptions. The program can take between four and eight years to complete; it can vary quite a bit depending on the area of study.

Professional degrees refer to some doctorates and other programs, such as veterinary school, where additional education is required after a bachelor’s degree program.

How Much does it Cost To Obtain a Bachelor’s Degree?

There is no exact cost of a four year degree, also known as tuition. It can vary quite a bit depending on the institution, major, and how long the individual takes to earn theirs.

Students earning their bachelor’s can also expect to spend money on

  • Books and supplies
  • Travel and transportation
  • Room and board
  • Food
  • And more

How Can You Afford a Bachelor’s Degree?

Many students don’t have the money to outright pay for tuition and everything else that comes with affording college. Families and individuals have several options and can

  • Take out federal loans. We always recommend completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)!
  • Take out private loans
  • Apply for scholarships
  • Explore state and federal grants
  • Take advantage of 529 plans

Why Should You Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

There are a number of reasons to get this four year degree! Here are a few benefits to consider:

You’ll Be Better Educated

One benefit of earning your bachelor’s degree is in order to be more educated. You will not only learn more about your area of interest, but you will receive a well rounded education thanks to the general education requirements.

You Have the Potential to Earn More Money

In many cases, you will be able to earn more money with a bachelor’s degree than without. In 2021, it was found that recent college graduates earn $52,000 a year on average vs. high school graduates who only earn $30,00 a year. This number can vary quite a bit depending on your location, employer, and major.

You Will Have More Job Opportunities

Many employers are looking for employees who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. Earning yours will open the door to a number of opportunities that you may not have had otherwise.  You may also find it easier to pursue a job within your preferred field.

You Can Network During College

Between other students and your professors, you can make lifelong connections during college that can have major impacts later on. You could discover a fellow student’s employer is hiring and they can help you get your foot in the door. A professor may set meetings up between you and individuals they know in a specific field. It can also lead to internships!

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