Certificate programs offer credentials related to a specific occupation. Programs typically last less than one year and provide practical job-training skills. Certificate programs may be required to qualify for a certain career or specialty within that career.
An associate’s degree is a two-year degree awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, business colleges, and some four-year colleges and universities. It is generally equivalent to the first two years of a four-year college degree. Degrees include Associate in Arts, Associate in Science, and Associate in Applied Science degrees. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and Associate of Applied Art (AAA) degrees are considered applied degrees and are designed to prepare individuals to become employed or improve their employment status in a career or technical occupation. The Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Arts and Science (AA&S) degrees are considered transfer degrees and are intended to prepare individuals to transfer to a senior institution in order to pursue a baccalaureate (4-year) degree.
Also called a baccalaureate degree, these degrees are awarded to students who successfully complete a college’s undergraduate curriculum – typically four years of coursework. Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) are the two most common examples.
After receiving a bachelor’s degree, many students decide to continue their studies with a master’s degree program. Master’s degrees require at least one year of study beyond the bachelor’s degree. The most common degrees awarded are Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). MBAs (Master of Business Administration) are popular, too.
Degrees awarded upon completion of two-year programs at post baccalaureate level
Following a master’s degree, students may earn their doctorate by completing one to three years of study, a comprehensive test or series of tests, a written thesis or dissertation, and often an oral presentation and exam. Doctorate degrees are most commonly awarded to those seeking a career in research or university-level teaching. The most common doctorate is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
Certain careers, such as medicine, law and dentistry, require a professional degree. Depending on the field of study, professional degrees can be awarded on the bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate level. Some occupations have more than one level of professional degree.