What Is an Undergraduate Degree?

An undergraduate degree is a bachelor's or associate's degree. Undergraduate degrees are offered at institutions of higher learning and fall below the level of a master's degree. If you are looking to pursue an undergraduate degree, read on to find out more about the differences between associate's and bachelor's degrees and the type of educational requirements you can expect.

Undergraduate Degrees Defined

Undergraduate degrees are offered in a variety of subjects, such as English, business administration and history, and can lead to a variety of careers depending on the major you choose. Typically, undergraduate degrees require several general education courses, advanced major courses and electives.

Undergraduate degree programs impart a high level of study and training in a chosen major, coupled with general education. The combination of major and general coursework can provide a broad base of knowledge that can apply to a number of professional fields. An undergraduate degree can potentially increase your salary, employment possibilities and career opportunities, in addition to developing a thorough and well-rounded postsecondary education.

Associate's Degree

Associate's degree programs generally require 60 academic credits and can usually be completed in two years. You can find associate's degree programs at community colleges, technical schools and junior colleges. Most programs prepare you for entry-level jobs in a specific field; however, an associate's degree can also act as a jump-start to a bachelor's degree. Many schools offer programs with a bachelor's degree transfer option, allowing you to complete your first two years of study at a community college and finish at a college or university. Common associate's degrees include the Associate of Applied Science and Associate of Arts.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree, also known as a baccalaureate degree, is the most common undergraduate degree. Common bachelor's degrees include the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. Through general education, electives and major coursework, you can normally complete a bachelor's degree program in four years. At most universities, a bachelor's degree requires at least 120 credits. Some bachelor's degree programs combine coursework with cooperative work-study, which can expose you to professional field experience as you progress toward your degree. Cooperative work-study programs may take five years to complete.

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