What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is one of the most common degree options selected by college-bound students. Available in a variety of fields, a bachelor’s degree typically requires about four years of full-time study. Graduates who obtain a bachelor’s degree can move directly into a career option or pursue an advanced degree. In either case, though, a bachelor’s degree is the key that unlocks the door to a world of possibilities as far as career advancement and development goes.

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What Is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year post-secondary undergraduate degree. In the course of study, students are expected to complete 120-semester credits or roughly 40 college courses. This degree is considered the most traditional college degree and includes both general education or liberal arts courses in areas such as English, psychology, history, and math, as well as credit hours in your major area of study. In most cases, only 30 to 36 credits are in your major study area.

This degree serves as an essential prerequisite for entry into most professional careers. So, it is a critical component for anyone looking for any career advancement. In jobs including teaching, engineering, and more, you cannot enter the field without at least an entry level degree. Additionally, individuals can typically not enter a graduate field of study, such as law or medicine, without at least a bachelor’s degree.

How Important Is a Bachelor’s Degree?

In today’s career field having a bachelor’s degree is nearly a necessity to land a solid job with any possibility for advancement. Not only that, though, there are some benefits that a bachelor’s degree offers.

  • Improved Employment Opportunities – In many career paths, a bachelor’s degree is a minimum requirement. This degree indicates to a potential employer that you are committed to and knowledgeable in your field. It’s a valuable credential that can help you qualify for a wider range of potential positions.​
  • Graduate School Possibility – If you are interested in advancing your studies, you will most likely need a bachelor’s degree to be accepted into a graduate program, such as medical school or law school.
  • Higher Pay – Not only does a bachelor’s degree help you qualify for more potential jobs, but it also may help you secure a higher rate of pay when you are hired. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics a person with a bachelor’s level degree made nearly $300 more each week than the national average and almost $500 more than those with only a high school diploma.
  • Lower Unemployment – Not only is pay higher for individual’s holding bachelor’s degree, though. These people are also less likely to be unemployed according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

What Type of Bachelor’s Degrees Is Available?

The possibilities for bachelor’s degrees and their particular fields of study or concentration are nearly endless. However, there are three most common degree types, which are a Bachelor of Arts (BA), a Bachelor of Science (BS), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA).

A BA is typically considered more general than some other degree options. It generally requires that a student has fewer concentration courses and more general study courses. These degrees are designed for those with an interest in the liberal arts who desire the opportunity to customize their educational path to meet their career goals. The most common majors awarded a BA upon graduation include English, art, theater, communications, modern languages, and music.

A BS is less exploratory and more content-specific. This degree is more focused on the field of your major and may even be considered more career-focused. For example, degrees in the medical field are often Bachelor of Science degrees. Some of the most common majors within the Bachelor of Science degree options include business, economics, nursing, chemical engineering, and biology.

A BFA is considered another vocational or professional degree. Individuals pursuing a BFA are typically those interested in entering the creative arts industry. Students pursuing a BFA often aspire to be dancers, actors, singers, painters, and sculptors.

What Is Required?

The particular course load required of your program will depend on the college or university you attend as well as your selected major. Nonetheless, most bachelor’s degree need roughly 30 to 36 credits in your specific field of study with more than half of the coursework being focused on general education or liberal arts courses. Additionally, some programs require students to complete an internship or practicum to enable students to get hands-on experience in their intended field.

What’s the Difference between a Bachelor’s Degree and an Associate’s Degree?

Many students entering post-secondary education consider their possibilities as far as pursuing a bachelor’s degree versus an associate’s degree. It’s important to understand the key differences between the two to determine which the best fit is for you.

At a very basic level, a bachelor’s degree is a 4-year degree while an associate’s degree is typically a two-year option. Obviously, the level of preparation in four years compared to two is different; however, the end goal of formal education is generally different of these two degrees as well.

A bachelor’s degree program is designed to provide a student with a well-balanced education as well as the skills necessary to pursue a specific career field. Bachelor’s degrees prepare students for professional as well as middle-management jobs and require general as well as specific coursework.

An associate’s degree more often prepares graduates for entry-level careers with the necessary skills and knowledge required for their selected field. In some cases, these degrees can later transfer into a four-year degree or provide the basis of general education requirements for a more advanced degree.

When Should You Seek a Bachelor’s Degree?

Making the determination of whether a bachelor’s degree is right for you or not is not always easy. However, there are a few considerations that can simplify the decision for you. A bachelor’s degree obviously presents more opportunities for individuals willing and able to put the added time and effort into a four-year degree. Additionally, you may specifically want to pursue a bachelor’s degree if you…

  • Plan to pursue a career for which a bachelor’s degree is required​
  • Have already earned 60+ semester college credits
  • Currently, hold at least one associate’s degree

How Will I Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?

Most colleges and universities require similar prerequisites for their bachelor’s level majors. Typically, the prerequisites of a bachelor’s degree is a high school diploma or GED, a minimum high school GPA, and a minimum required SAT or ACT score.

Additionally, many colleges look for students to have taken certain courses prior to application. Typically students must have completed​

  • Three science credits
  • Two foreign language credits
  • Three math credits
  • Four English credits
  • Three history/government credits
  • One art credit 

Is a Bachelor's Degree Right for me? 

Making the decision whether you actually need a bachelor’s degree is a very personal one. It is important to understand, though, that this degree can create multiple opportunities for you not only as you enter the career field but also as you look to advance to it. Likewise, by simply having a bachelor’s degree, you’ll be able to increase your rate of pay, reduce your risk of unemployment, and more.