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A bachelor’s degree is a popular academic pathway designed for those who want to open the door to professional opportunities.
Traditionally, post-secondary undergraduate degrees take four years to complete—encompassing 120 semester credits or around 40 college courses. For those enrolled in a college using a quarter system rather than a semester system, it takes a minimum of 180 quarter credits.
Historically, the term “college degree” meant a bachelor’s or traditional four-year degree. Today, it may be referred to as a baccalaureate degree, a BA, BFA or a BS. Regionally accredited liberal arts colleges award a majority of the bachelor degrees in the United States.
All types of bachelor degrees require liberal arts and general education classes. Many students will take course loads which include English, critical thinking, psychology, history, mathematics, etc. Typically only 30 to 36 credits—10 to 12 courses—will be in a student’s major area of study. This system paves the way to entry-level careers and graduate level education.
In most cases, attending professional graduate school in law, medicine, teacher education or psychology requires that students hold a bachelor’s degree. Students will almost always need a bachelor’s before enrolling in a master’s program. Working adults who earn their baccalaureate degree have the valuable choice of pursuing graduate studies to become qualified for the highest level jobs where a graduate degree is necessary. Seeking a bachelor’s degree is the first step toward this professional standard.
Associate vs. Bachelor Degree:
While a bachelor’s degree is a four-year degree, the associate’s degree takes two years to complete.
A bachelor’s degree program aims to round out a student not only as a potential worker, but as a whole. It equips graduates with skills and knowledge in a particular field that will lead them to professional work and intermediate management jobs. Courses needed to complete a bachelor’s degree include general courses in the liberal arts and specific required courses in a major concentration.
Associate degrees, on the other hand, typically prepare graduates for entry-level work with the basic skills and knowledge needed in a field.
Testing the academic waters with an associate degree can also allow students to complete general education requirements through a two-year program, for later transfer into a four-year degree. Many traditional and online colleges, universities, community colleges, and junior colleges have what are called 2+2 programs. After a student completes the first two years of their four-year bachelor degree, they have earned their associate’s degree. A student can continue their education post-associate at a larger university or college through an articulation agreement. This plan can be an easy and affordable bachelor’s degree journey.
Bachelor’s degree duration:
While a traditional bachelor’s degree at a brick-and-mortar college or university usually takes four years, there are many students who do not attend school straight through. Many people need to work to support themselves and their families, or go into the military before seriously considering getting a degree.
A majority of accredited institutions offer accelerated or degree completion programs in online formats, which have proven to be a great way to earn a degree quickly and efficiently. Once introduced to an online bachelor degree program, students will start recognizing the terms asynchronous, synchronous, self-paced, blended, hybrid, year-round, and more—all references to the length, pace and format of online studies.
Bachelor’s degree cost:
Tuition for a bachelor’s degree varies significantly from school to school, and published fees are not what most students will actually end up paying. Grants and financial aid will often significantly reduce the actual cost, so a more expensive institution may provide enough aid to make the tuition cost lower than that of a cheaper school that gives less aid.
The College Board published a report stating the median tuition for a full-time student at public or private, not-for-profit four-year institutions in 2019-2020 averages out at $12,710. Statistically 25% of these students will pay below $9,000, while 26% will attend universities charging at or above $30,000. This is a realistic difference in tuition which can control a person’s financial situation.
Affordability factors can include, but are not limited to: public vs. private institutions, the state in which you enroll, available aid, and your status as an in-state or out-of-state residence.
Online bachelor degrees will also base tuition on in-state and out-of-state status. Some colleges may provide a set rate for distance education, regardless of residency; however these rates vary widely from school-to-school and program-to-program.
Financial aid tremendously affects the total cost of a bachelor’s degree. There are a plethora of options when considering financial assistance, from grants and scholarships to loans, military family aid, tax benefits, and more.
Types of Bachelor Degrees:
The three most popular types of bachelor degrees are:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA degree)
- Bachelor of Science (BS degree)
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA degree).
What is a BA Degree?
A Bachelor of Arts degree focuses on exploring the liberal arts, generally requiring students to take fewer concentration courses. This basically alludes to success in any professional arena through studies in a mixture of subjects. BA students have the freedom of customizing their education to fulfill career goals and academic aspirations. Some of the most common majors include Digital Media Communications, Journalism, Modern Languages, and Interdisciplinary Studies.
What is a BS Degree?
The Bachelor of Science degree is targeted to specific concentrations. BS students, more often than not, focus specifically on the field of their major and tend to be extremely career-focused. This system of study increases the working adult’s chances of moving toward higher paying jobs within their field of study. Bachelor degrees in the medical field, for example, are more likely to be Bachelor of Science degrees.
Popular majors that make the Bachelor of Science degree list include Computer Science, Business, Economics, Nursing, Chemical Engineering, and Biology.
What is a BFA?
The Bachelor of Fine Arts is a vocational or professional degree. The goal of a BFA program is for its graduates to gain specific competencies and enter professional, studio-based spheres in fields including design, fine arts and other distinctive crafts. This ranges from dancers, singers and actors to painters and sculptors, just to name a few. Like the BS degree, the main difference between a BFA and a BA program is the tendency to focus more on major concentrations than on general studies.
A bachelor’s degree is the educational qualification necessary for many jobs in today’s economy. For jobs where a bachelor’s degree is not required, employers are still likely to prefer those with the degree over those with less education.
While there are some professional pathways where people with an associate’s degree can earn equal amounts or more than those with a bachelor’s degree, a bachelor’s degree will lead to higher earning potential in the long run than lesser educational qualifications.
Today it is easier to find a bachelor degree program to fit your schedule and career goals than ever before. Online programs allow students to continue their work or fulfill family commitments while balancing a successful education. Many people who entered the workforce without a bachelor’s are now returning to complete their degree online and gain access to a higher lifetime earning potential.
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- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
- letter of intent
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- Recommendation letter
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