Degrees Defined: PhD, Master, Bachelor, Associate, and Certificate Programs

By Anonymous

An academic degree is a valuable addition to your portfolio. The progress of your career is undeniably related to your academic degree, whether it is an impressive doctoral degree or a certificate program.

PhD Degree

The highest academic degree is a doctorate degree or Ph.D. There are three kinds of doctorate degrees a research doctorate, a professional doctorate, and an honorary doctorate. A research doctorate is awarded to a candidate who has carried out extensive research that has contributed to existing knowledge and has produced his research papers in the form of a thesis, dissertation or other published material. Professional doctorates apply to professions like law, medicine, music and so on, rather than scholarly and academic research. An honorary doctorate is awarded in recognition of contribution to any field that may not be academic in nature.  Here is an individual's point of view regarding graduate school, what to expect and the advantages of obtaining a PhD.

Masters Degree

The masters degree has gained in value over the years. Employers consider it an imperative to ensure specialty and leadership in the profession. A masters degree is awarded after 1 to 3 years of study following a bachelors degree. The period of study for the masters degree depends on the subject of study and also the university or school conferring the degree. This degree recognizes the advanced study in a specific academic discipline, and involves intensive course work that culminates in a thesis or a full examination.  Read Is An Online Degree Right for You? for further information regarding earning a Master's Degree online. 

Certain professional fields such as library science, public administration, engineering, education, computer and information science account for the highest percentage of masters degrees conferred. The masters degree is essential to prepare for doctoral studies. In the U.S., a masters degree is a prerequisite to obtain a license for certain professions.

Bachelors Degree

The bachelors degree is awarded by a college or university on completion of 3 to 4 years, and in some subjects 5 to 6 years, of undergraduate studies. A bachelors course generally includes a specialization subject called a major and general studies in related subjects called minor. Undergraduate studies are for a period of 4 years, although some universities and colleges allow students to attempt completion in less time.

A bachelors degree has two broad categories the Bachelor of Arts (BA, AB) and the Bachelor of Science (BS, BSc, SB, ScB). Bachelors degrees in business administration, architecture, medicine are known as BBA, B.Arch, and MBBS, respectively. There are many other such specialized fields.

Associate Degree

An associate degree is sometimes preferred by students who do not want to go through undergraduate courses involving 3-4 years of study and have advantages of their own. The associate degree will take 1-2 years of study from community colleges, junior colleges, business colleges, or in some cases even colleges granting bachelors degrees. This degree is somewhat equivalent to the first two years of undergraduate studies. An associate degree holder has the possibility of transferring to a full-time graduate program on successful completion of his general studies under the associate program. The Associate of Arts (AA) and the Associate of Science (AS) are two such programs. Other associate degrees such as Associate of Applied Science (AAS), Associate of Business Administration (ABA), and Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) are professional degrees preferred by students who plan to join the workforce.

Certificate Programs

Some students may want to go in for a certificate program, which is somewhat like a diploma. A certificate program involves around 46 months of study at the end of which students are awarded a certificate for completion of studies in a particular sub-field of a broader field of study such as software engineering.

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