There are different types of degrees you can earn in college.
Certificate programs offer credentials related to a specific occupation. Programs typically last less than one year and provide practical job-training skills. Certificate programs may be required to qualify for a certain career or specialty within that career.
An associate’s degree is a two-year degree awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, business colleges, and some four-year colleges and universities. It is generally equivalent to the first two years of a four-year college degree.
Also called a baccalaureate degree, these degrees are awarded to students who successfully complete a college’s undergraduate curriculum – typically four years of coursework. Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) are the two most common examples.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree, many students decide to continue their studies with a master’s degree program. Master’s degrees require at least one year of study beyond the bachelor’s degree. The most common degrees awarded are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). MBAs (Master of Business Administration) are popular, too.
Following a master’s degree, students may earn their doctorate by completing one to three years of study, a comprehensive test or series of tests, a written thesis or dissertation, and often an oral presentation and exam. Doctorate degrees are most commonly awarded to those seeking a career in research or university-level teaching. The most common doctorate is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
Certain careers, such as medicine, law, and dentistry, require a professional degree. Depending on the field of study, professional degrees can be awarded on the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate level. Some occupations have more than one level of professional degree.