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Four different levels of degrees

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Here at this webpage of Get Graduation, we will look at different levels of degrees :

  • Why do you need to know degree levels?
  • What are the different degree levels? 
  • What are the different types of degrees?
  • What are the main differences between degree levels? 
  • Are there any pre-requisites for each degree level? 
  • What follows after each degree level?

Why do you need to know levels of degrees?

A simple reason to know levels of degrees is “planning.” Suppose you graduated from high school and now want to plan your degree graduation for better prospects and job opportunities or pursue your passion. In that case, you need to know different degree levels, what comes next, and what to expect. It is also essential to know your options after you have completed your initial degree levels. 

  • You should have a clear objective. What do you want to achieve? An associate degree will be enough for your career, or do you want to have a Ph.D.?
  • You should have a clear path to your objective. Which steps will enable you to get your Ph.D.?
  • You should have an exact set duration for each step. How long would you allow yourself to get your Ph.D. under your circumstances?`

What are different levels of degrees?

The general answer is there are four different levels of degrees. These four degree levels are further categorized into two groups as an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate degree. 

infographic of all levels of degrees

levels of degrees: Undergraduate degrees​

Usually, the first qualification in university or university accredited colleges is considered undergraduate study. This qualification could be an:

  • Associate degree
  • Bachelor’s degree

Both Associate and bachelor’s degrees are considered undergraduate levels of degrees.

Associate degree

Duration: 2 years | Pre requisitions: high school, undergraduate diploma| job prospects: Entry level

Study difficulty: relatively easy as concepts are mostly basic| Study modes:  Online and on campus| Further study prospects: can enrol in bachelor’s degree on successful completion.

An associate degree is the most basic degree, and it is classified as an undergraduate degree level. An associate degree is an excellent choice if you are looking for an entry-level job or cannot commit yourself to 4 years bachelor’s degree. The duration of an Associate degree is two years. An associate degree’s main objective is to prepare the students for entry-level jobs or further study in their major subjective fields. One of the main advantages of an associate degree is since it has a considerably less workload than a bachelor’s degree; thus, it is easy for peoples who already have responsibilities like kids or jobs. 

 Associate degrees are classified into three types of associate degrees, and they are:

  • (A.A.) Associate of arts
  • (A.S.) associate of science 
  • (A.A.s) Associate of applied science 

The word “Applied” is a significant difference between an Associate of arts (A.A.), an associate of science (AS), and an Associate of applied science. Association of Arts and the Association of science are more academic studies focusing on general coursework and preparing students for further studies in a bachelor’s degree. Association of applied sciences will focus on a career-specific approach with a more practical orientated program and more vocational skills.

Bachelor’s degree

Duration: 4 years, 2 years if completed associate degree | Pre requisition: associate degree, high school or undergraduate diploma | Job prospects: Lower to higher management roles | Study difficulty: moderately difficult, require lot of study hours and concentration

Bachelor’s degree is the most common type of degree that most people get before entering professional life. And like an Associate degree, a bachelor’s degree is also comes at an undergraduate degree levels. For most people, this is the end of formal education. One of the significant differences between an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree is selecting one or more primary or major subjects. In contrast, an associate degree is the more general area of study. A major or some universities called them core subjects are the main focus of your selected degree. For example, suppose you are planning to get a bachelor’s degree in accounting. In that case, your study’s primary focus will be accounting subjects like cost accounting, management accounting, and making and presenting actual financial reports. Even though you will also study the basics of budgeting, auditing, and various management methods, the main focus will remain on actual accounting. 

A bachelor’s degree will serve as a pre-requisite of further study if you want to peruse like a postgraduate diploma or Master’s.

Just like associate degree, there are four main types of bachelor’s degree

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S)
  • Bachelor of Applied science (BAS)
The difference between Bachelor of Arts and bachelor of fine arts

The Bachelor of Arts or B. A is the perhaps most common bachelor’s degree and offers the most comprehensive subjects for selection. It gives more room to explore modern arts and provide more option to explore various fields of study. The most common among these subjects are literature, language, history, philosophy, music, communication, theatre, drama, and culture. The complete list has a bigger range in different disciplines of study. 

Whereas the main focus of bachelor of fine arts or BFA is more on the entertainment industry and creative arts. A bachelor of fine arts study’s main aim is to prepare you for professional arts, like acting, dancing, painting, singing, and sculptors. These are just a few to name as each of these disciplines has further majors within them. For example, in painting, further study could be done in oil painting, sketching, live painting, etc. same goes for other disciplines. 

The difference between the Bachelor of Science and a bachelor of applied science.

Unlike Bachelor of Arts or bachelor of fine arts, Bachelor of Science is more specific, practical, and career-oriented. It requires a more in-depth understanding of one specific major. Bachelor degrees in business, medicine, engineering, etc., are mostly considered a bachelor of science. On the other hand, a Bachelor of Applied Science is a more practical and career-specific degree within the Bachelor of Science. For example, a bachelor’s degree in business is considered a bachelor of science, whereas a bachelor’s in business administration (BBA) is a bachelor of applied science. 

levels of degrees: Postgraduate degrees

So far, we have read about undergraduate degree levels, which can be broadly classified into associate degree and bachelor degree. Same way, postgraduate degrees can be classified into two broad categories.

  • Master’s degree
  • Doctoral degree

Postgraduate courses are only available after the completion of undergraduate degrees. 

Master's degree

Duration: Normally 2 years |Pre requisition: Bachelor’s degree| outcome objective: specialization | Job prospects: Higher management and executive roles | Study difficulty: fairly difficult, require lot of focus and a very good understanding of basic concepts learned during bachelor’s degree 

Once you have completed your bachelor’s degree in the desired major or field of study and want to advance your studies toward specialization in your chosen major, the next path is a master’s degree. A Master’s degree base on your bachelor’s degree and usually builds on the concepts learned in a bachelor’s degree. Another critical aspect of a master’s degree is that it usually requires a project for graduation. 

Usually, a master’s student pursues the same field as taken in a bachelor’s degree. But it is not unheard of to change the major to a master’s degree. Changing the field of study at this level of education is not ideal but can be done in closely related fields. For example, if you have studied, let’s say, agriculture in bachelor’s degree and now want to study cryptography in Master’s, it will be extremely hard for you as you don’t know any basics of cryptography. But if your major was Math in a bachelor’s degree and now you want to study algorithms in a master’s degree, these fields are related, and it will be a little bit easier to learn. Also, pre-requisite subjects for a Master’s can stop you from changing areas of study.  

Classification of Master’s degrees is broader than bachelor’s degrees. Some types of master degrees are:

  • Master of Arts 
  • Master of Fine Arts
  • Master of Science
  • Master of Business Administration
  • Master of Research
  • Master by Research

Doctoral degree

Duration: varies greatly, usually depends on the student, field of study, dissertation, thesis, or research project. |Pre requisition: Master’s degree| outcome objective: specialization of a field of study to the extent of being an authority of that field | Job prospects: Researcher or scientist roles | Study difficulty: difficult, require a lot of research, a complete theoretical and practical knowledge of the subject.

A doctoral degree is mostly based on research and advance the application of learned knowledge. It takes 3 to 6 years to complete. During a doctoral degree, the student should complete a significant research project. 

Doctoral degrees are the highest level of awards in education. Mostly these are Ph.D. degrees. In some countries, the highest level of education is DSc. The main difference between Ph.D. and DSc is a Ph.D.’s pathway is first a bachelor’s degree, A master’s degree, and a Ph.D. award by research or project. In contrast, DSc is awarded after a complete portfolio of work. In other words portion of a Ph.D. is awarded throughout the academic career, but a DSc. is awarded later in the academic career. Another difference is that a student can achieve a Ph.D. in almost any study field but a DSc. The doctorate of science is not awarded in literature. In some countries, both of these awards are equal; in others, A DSc. is a higher education level than a Ph.D. 

A doctoral degree aims to equip the student with rigorous analytical and research skills to go and extend the boundaries of knowledge in their post-doctoral research.

A Ph.D. or doctor of philosophy is not the only doctoral degree. It may be the most commonly known doctoral degree, but a doctorate in some other professions is not always called a PhDs. Some of the other doctoral degrees are:

  • D.P.A doctor of public administration
  • D.Ph. doctor of public health
  • M.D. Doctor of medicine
  • Ed.D doctor of education

These are just some examples. 

 

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