When you earn a bachelor's degree, it means you have passed examinations in a broad range of courses and have studied one or two subject areas in greater depth.
A graduate degree is usually earned through two or more years of advanced studies beyond four years of college.
Credentials you could earn
- Certificate: Granted upon completion of a specific program; generally a trade or technical specialty. Usually requires fewer than 18 months of training. May or may not require a college degree.
- Professional license: Required for some career fields. May or may not require a college degree.
- Associate's degree: Awarded upon completion of a specific program; usually requires two years of full-time study and 60–70 credits.
- Bachelor's degree (baccalaureate degree): Granted upon completion of a specific program; usually requires four years of full-time study and 126–132 credits.
- Master's degree: Granted upon completion of a specific program; usually requires one to three years and approximately 30–40 credits beyond a bachelor’s degree.
- Doctoral degree: Awarded upon completion of a specialized program of study; usually requires three to five years beyond a bachelor's degree.
B.A. versus B.S.
A Bachelor of Arts is the traditional liberal arts degree that exposes you to a wide variety of disciplines — literature, history, social sciences, and laboratory sciences — before requiring you to specialize by selecting a major.
Studying for a B.A. degree doesn't mean you're stuck majoring in the humanities. You can get your B.A. in laboratory sciences like physics, chemistry, and biology. The "Arts" refers to the fact that you have studied a broad range of disciplines, not to the subject that you studied.
The Bachelor of Science degree, on the other hand, leaves little room for courses outside your major. You usually select your major before entering the program or, in some cases, after your first year.
As with the B.A. degree, the name of the B.S. degree refers to how much time you focused on your major area of study, not its content. This means you can get your B.S. in disciplines such as journalism, economics, linguistics, and international relations.