What do the different degrees in university mean?


I’ve been trying to find out what it all means, like there’s Bachelor’s degree, Doctorate, Bachelor of Design and Master of Education. But what do they mean? Is a bachelor’s degree the lowest degree you can get and master’s is the highest or do different courses have different names for their degrees?

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13 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Bachelors is 4 years.

Masters is 2 additional.

Doctorate varies – some are 2 additional years, others are 4 years.

The specificity of the degree (psychology, business etc) signifies what the person studied during school.

Anonymous 0 Comments

A bachelor’s is a basic, standard college degree. It means you know the core things in that field, enough to be considered a professional on it, though not an academic expert. Traditionally, a bachelor’s takes four years, usually ~2.5 of the field in question and ~1.5 of more general education.

Master’s or doctorate degrees are more advanced. They usually require you to do some research in that field and, especially for a doctorate, contribute to it.

Master’s degrees usually add 2 years on top of a bachelor’s, and end with a *thesis* – a thorough research paper in the student’s area of expertise that contributes some useful summary of existing knowledge, usually with some extra work to synthesize it on top of that.

A doctorate doesn’t have a specific timeframe, but is longer than a master’s, and it ends with a more difficult final project called a *dissertation*. Dissertations are expected to be original work in the student’s area of expertise. You’re supposed to research or develop something new, something others haven’t developed and that contributes something to your area of study. A mathematician might prove a new theorem, a biologist might conduct a new experiment, etc. Dissertations are presented by the student to a team of professors at the university (a “defense”), and that team decides whether the dissertation is accepted or not. It’s usually the last thing a student does before earning a doctorate, and “ABD” (“all but dissertation”) students are pretty common.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The first part is your standing; the latter, your field.

Each level is divided into fields according to its standing.

Your undergraduate curriculum, or Bachelor’s degree, is delivered in the context of a particular field. Broadly these are divided into Arts and Science. Each field then splits into increasingly specific domains. Anything that isn’t a Science is an Art, hence “BSc” and “BA.”

The purpose of choosing a field is to sustain students’ interest long enough for them to learn how to function in academia without making fools of themselves. Results vary by institution.

Having established your initial credential, you may further specialize in your chosen field; or, apply your new skills by mastering another subject. Masters tend to follow the estates of Law, Language, History, Theology, a specific Scientific field, a specific Engineering field, Finance, etc. Masters may carry a variety of post-nomials, according to their field.

As a master in your (any) field, you command professional respect, due both to your knowledge, and for the manner in which you apply it. Masters programs often lead students to apply academic skills in a professional context. It would be appropriate for a Master to profess knowledge of their field to students who follow them.

A Doctor offers sound, fundamentally new knowledge to a field, thereby expanding its contribution to humanity.

The Doctor may add to Medicine, or Philosophy, hence the distinction between “MD” and “PhD.”

For peers in a field to accept as sound the new Doctor’s body of work, the student must successfully defend it against exhaustive scrutiny and criticism, leaving no doubt about the work’s value.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Associates is generally a 2 year degree, the year being what the school determines to be how many credits/classes are appropriate in that time for that degree.

Bachelors is 4 years, this is the “standard” college degree most associate with being a college graduate.

Masters is another 2 years, though sometimes working adults spread it out. Usually it is the stepping stone for a better job, think MBA’s for business. Some jobs require it, teachers often need a masters.

Doctorate is 2-4 years further education, usually there is an addition component on top of class work, real world work, a thesis, or something like that. You don’t always need the masters, a JD for lawyers is technically a doctoral degree and doesn’t require one.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Bachelor’s means youre good at learning from others.

Master’s means your good at learning by yourself.

Doctorate means you’re good at teaching what you’ve learn to others.

Anonymous 0 Comments

An Associate’s Degree is a 2-year degree, and it’s the least intensive and usually is preparation for a specific career. A Bachelor’s degree is a 4-year degree, and there are two kinds: Bachelor of Arts (which focuses more on humanities) or Bachelor of Science (which focuses more one math, science, or technical things). If someone uses the name of a subject after “Bachelor’s of”, they are saying that they received a bachelor’s degree and they are telling you the subject they studied.

A master’s degree is an additional 2 years of study after having gotten a bachelor’s degree; it may require a thesis (a written document summarizing your study in the field). A Ph. D. (also known as a “Doctorate” or “Doctor of Philosophy”) is an additional 4 or more years of study, and it always has a thesis and publication requirement along with some original research. A college that offers master’s or Ph. D degrees is called a “university”.

When I was in school, mid-way through the doctoral program, we were given a week-long series of exams (each 3 hours, 2 per day for 4 days) called “comprehensive examinations” in our field of study. If you did not pass, you could not continue in the doctoral program but could apply your for your master’s degree. When I took it, only 2 of the 12 of us that took it passed. To graduate with a Ph. D. we had to write a thesis covering our research, and undergo a “thesis defense”, where members of the faculty would grill you for several hours on your research and anything else they felt someone in the field should know; then they would dismiss the candidate and discuss whether they would get their Ph. D.

Interesting fact all of the degrees except the Ph. D. are granted for a specific subject, like “Education”, or “Computer Science”. A Ph. D. more often than not combines areas of study but is also very focused on an absurdly specific subject, so your Ph. D. is not given in subject – instead it is “Conferred by the faculty of” some department and your thesis is technically the thing you got your degree in.

Also, the term “doctor” originally referred to a person certified to teach theology. Later, doctors of philosophy degrees would be given out for the highest level of education in other disciplines… It would be hundreds of years later before “medicine” became an empirical science and “medical doctor” (MD) degrees would be awarded. That’s when physicians became “doctors”.

Anonymous 0 Comments

In some professional fields, there are specialized Bachelor’s degrees that indicate a heavier-than-usual focus on the field of concentration. For example, some colleges train music students with a Bachelor of Arts program, and some offer a Bachelor of Music program. The “B.Mus.” designation means that the program meets standards similar to those of a music conservatory education, and has been reviewed and approved (every few years) by a panel of educators from other schools offering the same type of degree.

Similarly there are programs leading to degrees such as B. Arch. (architecture) and B.F.A. (fine arts).

Anonymous 0 Comments

Yes, essentially, a bachelor’s is the lowest/first degree you can attain at a university (or in the US, a college).

There are grades within that, but a typical 3 or 4 year bachelor’s is your starting point. They’re sometimes called “undergraduate degrees”.

Once you graduate, you can take graduate degree programs, like a masters, or a doctorate (the highest).

Also, on a side note, there are honourary degrees (which mean nothing) and honours degrees (which mean you did extra course work).

Anonymous 0 Comments

The progression is: high school diploma / GED, associates degree, bachelors degree, masters degree, doctorate.

Primary education is considered to be the level of education that children require in order to become young adults / teens in society. You need to be able to read and write competently, do basic math, and be acquainted with the world (know basic geography, understand enough to engage in pop culture, etc).

Primary education is often broken down into stages:

* pre-school – any form of schooling from birth prior to kindergarten, the final year being Pre-Kindergarten or Pre-K
* elementary school – K-2, kindergarten being the beginning of formal education, usually focusing on socialization with other kids and following a basic schedule of learning, followed by the first levels of “graded” education, meaning that your performance is assessed with a grade)
* grade school (for some reason) – grades 3-5
* junior high school (aka “intermediate school”) – grades 6-8

Secondary education, aka high school, means that you know enough to enter an apprenticeship for a trade (or enough to enter a trade school). On this path, it’s often sufficient to get a GED that proves you have the knowledge equivalent to someone with a high school diploma.

Alternatively, completing secondary education can also be “preparatory” in nature, i.e., you’re not aiming at a trade but you want to pursue college. Today because of the proliferation of the idea that everyone should go to college, most secondary education is taken for granted as preparatory, but usually the only schools that are called “prep schools” are those that have traditionally aimed at that path even many decades ago.

Then there’s post-secondary education, which is all the rest of the degrees I listed above. These degrees are obtained at some kind of post-secondary institution, a junior college, a college, or a university.

Associates degrees are typically not offered at colleges or universities, normally they are only offered by junior colleges in the form of a two year program. These are thought of as establishing a baseline general education in the liberal arts with some kind of concentration, akin to a “minor” at college / university.

Bachelors degrees are earned at colleges or universities, and these are four year degrees that require students to complete a rigorous baseline education and a “major,” which is a course of study in some specialization. The “baseline education” I’m talking about is normally fulfilled in the form of completing what are called “distribution requirements,” basically these are a set of requirements that *all* students claiming this degree must complete regardless of your major.

What does that baseline look like? It depends on the college you attend! If you go to a liberal arts college (e.g., Grinnell), the baseline education you complete in addition to your major is based on the idea that a well-rounded individual should have training across a wide range of liberal arts and sciences. At a college of arts and sciences, or a liberal arts college, the distros look like literature, foreign language, psychology, economics, some “hard science” like bio/chem/physics, some level of math, etc.

But if you go to a technical or engineering college (e.g. Caltech), the distribution requirements look somewhat different. There will be some overlap, but the emphasis will be shifted onto the natural sciences and mathematics as the core. These schools still have non-technical requirements, but for instance instead of a two year foreign language requirement they might only require one year. Instead of 3 or 4 credits in history and literature, an engineering school might only require one credit each.

What’s the difference between a college and a university? A college is an institution with a set of distribution requirements that all students must complete. A university is a collection of colleges. For example, if you go to Northwestern, they have seven different colleges: a liberal arts college, an engineering college, a journalism school, a school of music, etc. The benefit of a university is that if you enroll in, say, the engineering college at Northwestern, the distribution requirements will be set by that college and be focused on natural sciences and math, but there are still requirements in liberal arts as well like foreign language, history, literature. Because all of the colleges belong to the same university, the students can enroll in any class to satisfy their degree requirements offered by any college. So engineering students take classes in the liberal arts school to satisfy those requirements and vice versa.

Because of the wide range of offerings at most colleges and universities, colleges can offer additional certifications. You can graduate with a major degree but also add a minor, or complete an honors course of study (and graduate “with honors”) or both, and have a “bachelors in computer science with honors and a minor in Russian literature.” In most cases completing an honors program on top of your major means that you wrote a thesis in that field of study to some high standard. If you have a major and a minor, you might be able to get honors in both, even. You can also double major … if you complete all of the distribution requirements and the major requirements for two major courses of study, then you double majored. You can get honors for each one if you want. Some overachievers do a double major and a minor and even complete honors on one of more of those.

If you attend a university, it’s also possible to get a degree from two different colleges. For example if you went to Northwestern, you could get a degree from the school of music in percussion and a degree in civil engineering from the engineering college. Or you could double major in one of those schools, etc, etc. Depending on how many courses you’re willing to take and how long you’re willing to attend, you can just keep collecting degrees, majors, and minors if you want.

Advanced degrees begin with the master’s degree. Here, you are really focusing on *professional specialization*, meaning that you intend to get a professional job (i.e., not an academic or research job) that requires a high degree of education. This would be people that lead businesses (MBA) or big projects (masters in engineering or natural science, etc).

If you intend to work in research, either professional or academic, this means that you need to go beyond “mastering” the body of knowledge in a field; at this point you intend to *grow* the body of knowledge in that field. For that, a doctorate is typically required.

Note that medical doctors, MDs, are so respected because that profession is considered to require not just mastering what is known at the time of graduation, but to be conversant enough with the field to continue staying on top of it as time goes on, hence it is one of the fields that requires a doctorate level of knowledge just to graduate. From there you go on into residency where you learn the actual practice of medicine, i.e., applying what you know without killing people. Another field akin to this is lawyer, a Juris Doctor or JD is required to practice law, but this is not really researching or adding to the body of knowledge about law so much as proving you know enough to stay abreast of it, since it is constantly changing.

Beyond doctorate level, there are post-doctoral studies in many fields. In fundamental research, for example, it’s typical to do post-doc positions where you essentially apprentice in a research lab for a professor and, like a doctor in residency, learn the practical art of doing actual research; contributing actual knowledge to that field.


Anonymous 0 Comments

College requirements vary, but may typically be decided as such:

1) General requirements – these are courses the university requires of all students

2) Degree requirements- these are the core courses that your degree requires. This is where the Bachelor of Science vs a Bachelor of Art differ. At my university the simplified version is that the difference was typically in the number of science or literature courses required.

3) Major requirements – some majors can be taken under different degrees. Myself, I double majored in computer science and mathematics under the same degree, Bachelor of Science. Many math majors take it as a Bachelor of Art instead because they didn’t like the science requirements and preferred the literature instead. In contrast my first major is only offered under the Bachelor of Science degree.

This brings up the difference between getting two degrees and getting two majors. A double degree would mean fulfilling BOTH degree requirements, whereas my double major shared the same degree and only required to fulfill the additional major requirements. Depending on university, but I believe is typical, you can use credits earned for one major to fulfill the requirements of the second major.

Beyond that you also have minors, which are not recorded on the degree issued, and only awarded along side a major. If I recall correctly it does not require you to fulfill the degree requirements of it would fall under a different degree, but again, it may depend on the university. I minored in physics also mostly due to the number of math and science courses I already had to take.

For Masters and Doctorate it is a similar story, fulfilling the degree and major requirements, but others have already explained those differences.