What Are the Common College Degree Programs at Universities?

Pursuing a college degree involves a substantial commitment of time and money, and choosing a college degree program that fits your goals is an important decision. In general, U.S. universities offer a full range of degree program options, including several levels of programs and various areas of study.

Overview of Degree Types

Most colleges offer a variety of degrees and majors. Within the general heading of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees, there are many specific degree types. However, you can expect to find certain common types of college degree programs at most colleges and universities.

Important Facts About College Degree Programs

Prerequisites High school diploma, or equivalent minimum; GRE, LSAT, GMAT, or MCAT scores may be required
Online Availability Fully available for most programs
Possible Careers Engineer, insurance underwriter, teacher, counselor, environmental scientist, chiropractor, lawyer, psychologist
Continuing Education Certification or licensure may be required, depending upon occupation

Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor's degrees are 4-year programs completed at a college or university. Students enrolled in these programs generally focus on a concentration or major area of study. Bachelor's degree programs combine core curriculum classes with field of study classes in order to prepare students for entry-level positions in many fields. Students completing a 4-year college or university degree program may graduate with a bachelor's in one of a number of areas:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A.): A Bachelor of Arts degree may include majors like English, history or philosophy.
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S.): A Bachelor of Science can include majors like engineering and nursing.
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA): Students majoring in music, art or dance may earn a BFA.

Some schools may offer additional types of bachelor's degrees.

Master's Degree

Master's degrees are obtained after completion of a bachelor's degree. Some individuals entering a graduate program have years of professional work experience, while others begin master's degree studies immediately after earning a bachelor's degree. Depending on the program, master's degrees can take 1-3 years to complete. Individuals wanting to advance or change careers might enter into these common graduate programs:

  • Master of Arts (M.A.): Like a B.A., a Master of Arts includes humanities and liberal arts.
  • Master of Science (M.S.): An M.S. includes areas like finance and education.
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): Students earning an MBA can specialize in areas including marketing, entrepreneurship and finance.
  • Master of Education (M.Ed.): Teachers typically pursue Master of Education degrees.
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA): The MFA covers fields like the visual arts, creative writing and theatre.

Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree is the highest degree level one can obtain in a U.S. college or university. Some doctoral degree programs can be completed in conjunction with a master's degree program. Certain careers, such as medical doctors, require individuals to hold a doctoral degree. Workers in other fields might pursue a doctorate if they are interested in teaching at the university level. Individuals who pursue these doctoral degrees aspire to be experts in a particular field:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.): A Ph.D. includes areas in science, engineering, the humanities and liberal arts.
  • Doctor of Medicine (M.D.): Graduates of medical school receive their M.D.
  • Juris Doctor (J.D.): A J.D. is awarded to graduates of doctoral programs in law.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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