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Majors | Degree Types | February 14, 2012

Types of Degrees

There are Different Types of Degrees

A.A., B.F.A., M.S., Ph.D - having trouble making sense of college degrees? Most US colleges and universities offer a variety of options and it’s important to determine which degree program is the best fit for you. Use this guide to filter through what each degree type offers.

Associate Degree

An associate degree is typically awarded to graduates of community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, and some four-year colleges and universities. An associate degree takes two years to complete. Associate degrees can be awarded in vocational or non-vocational disciplines. Students who choose a non-vocational degree often transfer to a four-year institution after completing their program. Students usually earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), or Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.).

The most popular associate degrees are:

  • Liberal Arts/Science
  • Health Professions
  • Business

Bachelor’s Degrees

Bachelor’s degrees are typically awarded at four-year institutions. Requirements include minimum grade point averages and minimum credit hours completed, and often a declared major or course of study. In some disciplines, colleges and universities allow students to choose which type of bachelor’s degree they want to earn.

Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A.) is a type of bachelor’s degree awarded for courses in the liberal arts or sciences. B.A. programs often focus more on liberal arts general education courses and are often required to take a foreign language.

Bachelor of Science

Bachelor of Science degree (B.S.) is a type of bachelor’s degree awarded for courses in a scientific or technical discipline. To earn a B.S., institutions often require a certain number of lab hours.

Bachelor of Fine Arts

Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.) is a type of bachelor’s degree awarded for courses in the visual or performing arts. In B.F.A. programs, the majority of the program is studio or conservatory work.

The most popular bachelor degrees are:

  • Business Administration
  • Communications
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Elementary Education
  • Nursing
  • Psychology
  • Political Science

Master’s Degree

A Master’s degree is the most basic advanced degree. It was awarded to students who have completed their graduate coursework in a particular area of study. Master’s degrees are awarded in hundreds of disciplines. Master’s degrees typically take two or three years to complete.

Master of Arts

Master of Arts degrees are usually awarded in humanities or liberal arts disciplines. It is often awarded after passing exams and completing independent research.

Master of Science

Master of Science degrees are usually awarded in the technical, natural or social sciences disciplines. It is often awarded after passing exams and completing independent research.

Master of Business Administration

Master of Business Administration degrees are usually awarded in two years. They give a comprehensive education on all aspects of business administration, including accounting, finance, economics, management, marketing, and operations. Students can often choose to concentrate in one discipline.

The Most Popular Master’s Degrees are:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Social Sciences
  • Health Science
  • Engineering
  • Physical Sciences

Doctorate Degrees

A doctorate is the highest academic and terminal degree in most fields of study. It is most often awarded for original research, but can also be awarded in a professional discipline.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

The most common research doctorate is the Ph.D., which can be awarded in most science and liberal arts disciplines. It usually takes seven years to complete a Ph.D. At most universities, it is required for professors to hold Ph.D.s.

Professional Discipline

Doctorates can also be awarded in professional disciplines. For many professions it is required to hold a doctorate in the field. Some of the most popular professional doctorates are Doctor of Medicine (M.D.), Juris Doctor (J.D.), Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T), Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.) and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD).

The Most Popular Doctorate Degrees are:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Social Sciences
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Engineering
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