What Exactly Is A Bachelor’s Degree?

Student with diploma and text: what is a bachelor's degree?There are a several different kinds of college degrees out there. Each come with their own set of rules, requirements, and benefits. Associate’s, bachelor’s, masters, doctoral, and professional degrees. Oh my. But let’s break down the most common type: the bachelor’s degree.

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

It’s the degree students earn after completing at least 4 years of study at a university or college. (Although, a most students don’t actually complete it within 4 years. 5 or 6 years is much more common). 

There are even different kinds of bachelor’s! It depends on the major. There are three main types:

  • (BA) Bachelor of Arts
  • (BS) Bachelor of Science
  • (BFA) Bachelor of Fine Arts

BA: Liberal Arts majors earn these degrees. Common ones are English, Communication, and Theatre.

BS: These degrees tend to be more focused and career-oriented. Business, biology, and engineering are common BS degrees.

BFA: BFA’s are also more focused than BAs. These are vocational degrees awarded to students intently studying things like painting or music composition.

Requirements to Fulfill a Bachelor’s

  1. You must complete (at least) four years of full-time study. Part time study over a period of four years does not qualify you for a Bachelor’s degree.
  2. You must complete a minimum of 120 semester credits to earn an accredited bachelor’s degree. That is the equivalent of about 40 college courses. If your college uses a quarter system, the minimum requirement is 180 quarter credits.

The Elements of a Bachelor’s Degree

Most bachelor’s degree programs have two parts – the core classes and electives. All students studying towards their bachelor’s degree have to complete the core curriculum. This includes general education classes such as science, English, math, philosophy, fine arts, language and history. 

Bachelor’s degrees are the most common type of degree. Some undergraduate students consider them stepping-stone degrees towards master’s or doctoral degrees. Many use their bachelor’s degree to supplement their ultimate goal. Lawyers, for example, might study pre-law, history, or English during undergrad.

A Degree By Any Other Name

A bachelor’s degree is also often referred to as a baccalaureate degree. Keep in mind, this is different from an associate’s degree. An associate’s degree takes only two years to complete and is awarded by community colleges.

However, you can choose to complete general education requirements through an associate’s degree program in community college. After that, you can transfer to a college or university for an additional two years to earn your bachelor’s. This helps makes earning a bachelor’s degree much more affordable. These 2 year community, 2 year college/university transfers are known as 2+2 Programs

Why a Bachelor’s Degree is Important

Did you know that 66% of jobs require some sort of college degree? And that number is only increasing. In addition to qualifying you for more job opportunities, having a bachelor’s can provide a higher salary than an associate’s degree or GED. Therefore, a bachelor’s degree is well worth the effort.

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