Earning a degree online or on campus can improve your job prospects, your salary potential, and your opportunities for advancement. Each title indicates that you have reached a certain level of domain. In general, the higher your level of qualification, the higher your qualification for certain jobs, career paths and degrees of remuneration.

There are four main categories of degrees available to higher education students. These university degrees, in order of complexity, are the following: bachelor’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. Obtaining one of these degrees can take from 2 to 8 years, depending on the level of the degree and the field of study. Undergraduate degrees may require students to complete one or more degree programs before enrolling. By comparing different degrees, students can consider which program best fits their career goals and academic interests. It should be borne in mind that all university degrees require having completed the baccalaureate first.

Types of qualifications

Associate Degrees or Technical Degrees

Of the four main types of college degrees, an associate’s degree is generally the easiest to obtain. Associate-level programs offer different degrees for a variety of careers. These 2-year programs can provide the necessary training to prepare students for entry-level positions in fields such as nursing, graphic design, and other vocational areas. Associate degree programs are typically available at community colleges and technical schools.

To obtain an intermediate degree it is necessary to take about 60 credits, which usually means a commitment of two years for the full-time student.

Advantages of Associate Degrees

An associate degree can prepare you for a wide range of technical and entry-level roles, or it can be a path to a bachelor’s degree at a four-year university. If you first spend two years at a community or junior college, you can save time and money in the long run. In fact, the Department of Education recognizes community colleges as the most affordable path to higher education.

Completing an associate degree program may qualify graduates to enter the workforce. Transferable associate degree programs cover the general education requirements necessary to continue a student’s education at a 4-year university. The most common degrees available at the associate level include the following: Arts (AA), Science (AS), and Applied Science (AAS).


A bachelor’s degree program is a degree program that typically lasts four years. Enrollment in a bachelor’s degree program requires students to choose a primary area of study, such as finance, history, communications, or biology. Graduates of a bachelor’s degree program are qualified to work in entry-level or managerial positions, depending on the field.

It’s a college degree typically offered by four-year accredited schools, including most private, public, and online universities. Most undergraduate degrees require about 120 credits, which usually requires between four and six years for the average full-time student.

Advantages of Bachelor’s Degrees

Bachelor’s degrees are available in a wide range of academic fields. Earning a bachelor’s degree demonstrates that you have successfully completed a general education focused on a specific specialty. Once you have obtained your bachelor’s degree, you will have access to a wide range of opportunities, whether you want to continue with postgraduate studies or if you want to enter the labor market.

A bachelor’s degree is also often required to access a graduate program. The different types of degrees available in a bachelor’s degree program include the following:

Arts (BA) – teachers; writers, advisors, lawyers, researchers, conservators

Science (BSc) – chemists, physicists, biologists, mathematicians

Fine Arts (BFA) – actors, dancers, artists, authors

Applied Sciences (BAS) – engineers, software developers, project managers

Business Administration (BBA) – entrepreneurs, managers, business executives

Architecture (BArch) – architects, interior designers, industrial designers, urban planners

Bachelor’s degree is one of the most common forms of college education


The next educational level in the hierarchy of degrees is the master’s degree. Master’s programs are graduate programs that allow students to specialize in an area of study. They usually last between one and two years. In addition to a university degree, enrolling in a master’s program usually requires a minimum grade point average and an acceptance score on a university entrance exam, such as the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Many master’s programs require a thesis or a final project to graduate.

A master’s degree is an advanced postgraduate degree that demonstrates a high level of proficiency in a particular subject. A master’s programme requires between 30 and 60 credits, which usually requires a commitment of between one and two years.

Advantages of Master’s Degrees

You can choose to pursue a master’s degree to improve your chances of advancement in a particular field, to increase your earning potential or to improve your attractiveness as a candidate for a job. Some jobs and leadership roles may require a master’s degree as a minimum qualification for employment. For example, in many states a master’s degree is required to obtain a license to teach in a public school or to become a working social worker. As a graduate student, you’ll work to improve your knowledge and technical skills in a specialized area, whether you focus on the arts, humanities, health, natural sciences, or a host of other fields.

Your advanced degree may also allow you to bypass entry-level jobs in your chosen field and immediately land in higher-paying positions with greater opportunities for professional growth. Most senior management and professional jobs require an advanced degree.

Earning a master’s degree can train graduates to work in advanced or executive-level positions. A master’s degree is also required to access some doctoral programs. The different degree programs available at the master’s level include the following:

Arts (MA) – academics; authors, therapists, professors, researchers

Science (MS) – data scientists, software engineers, mechanical engineers

Business Administration (MBA) – executives, CEOs, professors, business consultants

Arts (MFA) – authors, poets, creative directors, teachers

Law (LLM) – judges, law firm partners, lawyers, politicians

Advertising (MPub) – graphic designers, typographers, editors

Doctoral Degrees

The highest undergraduate degrees are doctoral programs, also known as PhD programs. Since they are the most advanced type of degree program available, admission to a doctoral program may require individuals to have a master’s degree, although several programs accept candidates who only have bachelor’s degrees. Additional requirements to be accepted into these programs may include submitting standardized test results and sending letters of recommendation.

The PhD is the highest degree that can be obtained in most fields. Also called a “terminal degree”, it indicates that the highest level of academic mastery has been achieved in the chosen field and you can work as a professional researcher, university professor or in an executive leadership position.

Advantages of Doctorates

This degree demands a huge commitment of time, energy, and (sometimes) money. But in exchange for this commitment, you will reach a specialized level of authority in your field and opportunities in your profession. A PhD can lead to greater opportunities for career advancement and greater earning potential. It is also the basic threshold for certain advanced professional functions, such as the authorized exercise of psychology, teaching or professional research.

Completing a PhD program usually takes several years, and often involves the completion of a dissertation and a major research project. Medical-related doctoral programs can have students perform clinical hours with real patients during the final years of the program. When it comes to obtaining a doctoral degree, the choice of university can be very important, as funding and requirements can vary considerably.

PhD graduates are qualified to work as experts in business or research areas, and as professors at the post-secondary level. Among the most common types of doctoral degrees are those listed below:

Philosophy (PhD) – academics, professors, specialists in a field, writers, scientists

Law (JD): lawyers, legal librarians, law firm partners, jurists.

Medicine (MD) – doctors; surgeons, medical scientists, instructors

Dental Surgery (DDS): dentists, dental surgeons, orthodontists

Education (EdD): university presidents, high-level educational administrators, rectors

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Sources Consulted




Types of University Degrees

Types of University Degrees. Photo: Unsplash. Credits: Jeswin Thomas

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