What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is the standard college degree earned at an accredited college or university. This type of degree typically takes four years of full-time study to complete, or longer in case of part-time status. This is also known as a baccalaureate degree, since “baccalaureate” is a Latin term meaning “student with the first degree.” 

Students on a bachelor’s degree program acquire entry-level knowledge and skills in a specific subject, such as biology, communications, or business management. The wide range of bachelor’s degree programs means that prospective students will find one or two specific areas of study that will address their present interests and future aspirations. These include everything from accounting and archeology to web development and zoology. 

Many students enroll in their preferred programs directly after their high school graduation. Many also earn an associate degree or enter the workforce before doing so; colleges and universities typically allow transfer of credits from a two-year associate of arts and associate of science degree programs to bachelor degree programs.

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What Are the Courses in a Bachelor’s Degree Program?

During the first two years of studies, students must meet general education requirements with courses like English composition, mathematics, foreign language, history, natural or physical science, social science, and humanities. These liberal arts courses provide students with broad learning in multiple disciplines and a foundation for intellectual and personal development. 

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Then, in the last two years of the program, students enroll in advanced major courses depending on their chosen specialization/concentration. For example, business management majors take accounting, finance, and management courses designed to develop their business-specific knowledge and skills. 

Internships, also known as on-the-job training or practicum, may be required depending on the program. Students in healthcare-related programs typically have clinical hours in a practical setting while students in other majors have internships with external companies, too. 

Capstone projects are also common requirements for graduation. These may take the form of a thesis, albeit not as intensive as in a graduate and post-graduate level, or a research project with real-world applications. 

The number of credits that must be earned for graduation varies depending on the school’s academic calendar and the number of credits allowed for transfer. In general, students must earn 180 credits in a quarter system or 120 credits in a semester system. 

What Are the Choices in Delivery?

With the advent of Internet technology, colleges and universities also offer their present and prospective students a choice between on-campus and online programs. While online programs were previously an oddity and their values were uncertain, they are now considered viable alternatives to on-campus education. This is particularly true for non-traditional students including working professionals, stay-at-home parents, and military personnel, among others. 

Most colleges and universities offering online degree programs also don’t make a differentiation between their on-campus and online offerings. This is true in terms of the instructors in the programs, the quality of instruction, and the rigorous curriculum. Even the diplomas for on-campus and online graduates are the same in wording! 

On-campus programs, however, are still popular among students. These have the benefits of face-to-face interactions and a full college experience, which many students benefit from. 

In the end, nonetheless, it’s your choice! 

What Are the Types of Bachelor’s Degrees?

These are the common types offered in colleges and universities. 

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs emphasize the arts and sciences including humanities resulting in a well-rounded education. Majors include business management, literature, and archeology, which are underlined by general education requirements. 
  • Bachelor of Science (BS) programs emphasize technical and scientific skills necessary for work readiness. Students then take more advanced major courses and less general education courses, as well as engage in more technical or laboratory activities. 
  • Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA) programs aren’t common in the US but these are also widely accepted. Students acquire more vocation training and practical skills in their specific area of study. 
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) programs cover niche areas of study, such as renewable energy technology, international business, and culinary leadership. Students are provided with hands-on training in job-related skills in the classroom and, thus, make them job-ready graduates. 
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) programs enable students to pursue professional careers as artists, such as dancers, musicians, or actors. Students learn both the theory and techniques of their chosen art form. 

Other types of bachelor’s degrees are: 

• B.Arch. – Bachelor of Architecture
• B.B.A. – Bachelor of Business Administration
• B.E. – Bachelor of Engineering
• B.Ed. – Bachelor of Education
• B.I.T. – Bachelor of Information Technology
• B.S.N. – Bachelor of Science in Nursing
• B.S.W. – Bachelor of Social Work

What Can You Do with a Bachelor’s Degree?

The bachelor’s degree is the qualification required for many careers and is also a stepping stone for graduate degrees and professional programs, such as law and medicine. The four-year program is designed to promote the intellectual and personal development of students and provide them with broad knowledge of the wider world and instill in them a sense of social responsibility. These qualities prepare them for success in the global economy and for informed citizenship, as well as for a fulfilling personal life.

The advantage of having a bachelor’s degree is concretely represented in surveys examining the earning power of higher education. In a National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) 2019 report, the employment rate for people with higher levels of educational attainment was higher than for those with a high school diploma or its equivalent. For the 25- to 34-year-old cohort with a bachelor’s degree or higher, it was 87% but it was only 74% for the latter. 

Even with more competitive markets, recent graduates (2019) enjoyed a spike in their salaries compared to their 2018 counterparts. The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Summer 2020 salary survey found that the former’s final overall average starting salary was $53,889. In contrast, the class of 2018’s salary was $50,944, or a 5.8% increase for their 2019 counterparts. 

The difference in salaries between college graduates and high school graduates is significant, too. In 2019, recent college graduates in the 22-27 age cohort earned a median annual income of $44,000 while high school graduates in the same age cohort earned $30,000 a year. 

The higher earning capacity can offset the tuition and other fees incurred in acquiring a bachelor’s degree, too. In the 2020-2021 academic year, the average tuition in private institutions was $35,087 and $9,687 in public schools. These costs can be substantially reduced through scholarships, grants and low-interest loans.  

But economic advantage is not the only reason a young person should consider the bachelor’s degree. It’s the learning and human growth that occurs in a person who fully engages with the opportunity being offered. As Dr. Hunter Rawlings president of the American Association of American Universities put it, “Genuine education is not a commodity, it is the awakening of a human being.”

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What’s the Next Step After a Bachelor’s Degree?

Graduates of bachelor’s degree programs can decide to: 

  • Pursue a master’s degree 
  • Take a gap year 
  • Seek an internship or apprenticeship 
  • Seek full-time or part-time employment

Are you interested in an affordable and convenient Master’s program? Check this out: THE 15 MOST AFFORDABLE MASTER’S DEGREE ONLINE PROGRAMS

Are you looking for a good return on your investment? Read this: THE 20 MOST LUCRATIVE BUSINESS CAREERS