It is a well-known fact that universities and colleges award certain degrees after different graduation levels. According to the diploma and the degree program, therefore, students can choose which program and diploma fit their academic and career interests the best. Students can receive four major degrees, depending on the course and the degree program they chose; associate degree, bachelor’s degree, master’s and doctoral degree. To earn these degrees, it can take anywhere between two (associate degree), and eight years (doctoral degree), depending, of course, on the level of the degree itself, as well as the field of the study.
Because bachelor and master’s degrees are the most common goals of students in regards to their academic path and career, in the following paragraphs we will discuss these two degrees. We will look into the things that characterize them, their differences and the career path they enable.
Bachelor’s degree, also known as the baccalaureate, is a degree awarded by universities and colleges upon the completion of course studies, which can last anywhere between three and seven years, depending on the field of study. Bachelor’s degree is a post-secondary undergraduate degree, which is also known as ‘college degree’. In the US, it is known that liberal art colleges award the most bachelor’s degrees of different kinds; from bachelor’s in the English language to psychology, history, and art history), philosophy and critical thinking, medical and health sciences mathematics, etc. Here are the main characteristics of the bachelor’s degree program;
- During the first year of the bachelor’s degree program, students learn the fundamentals. Regardless of the field of study, the programs start with a thorough introduction into the field and each course commences with the basics. The curriculum for certain fields is usually internationally recognized and uniform with the curriculum of other colleges and universities.
- During the second year of the program, students are exposed to more particular and specific courses and knowledge to acquire. Students usually choose a major and explore a range of multidisciplinary courses. Also, students, at this point, spend anywhere between 15 to 18 hours at college, attending classes and preparing for exams. During the second year, students also explore different research methodologies that are linked to each specific subject and course, developing skills for individual research and intellectual autonomy.
- During the final year (at some colleges the final years can be the third year or even 4th to 7th year), students have already acquired enough knowledge and skills to be able to conduct research and work on serious projects. Some students even join the student exchange program to complete their major at another university.
A typical, three to four-year bachelor’s program comprises 120-semester credits. Returning or part-time students can take longer to complete the program and earn a degree. In Europe, the Bologna Process has an established bachelor’s and master’s degree program for students, where the bachelor’s program takes three years and the master’s program takes two years. When it comes to tuition and fees, a bachelor’s program takes cost anywhere between a couple of thousand dollars, to even 60/70,000 thousand dollars per year, depending on the college/university and the field of study. Bachelor’s degree is an excellent pathway towards higher education, especially for students who want to continue their education towards a master’s degree and a doctoral degree.
A master’s degree program is intended for an advanced degree for students who have completed their bachelor’s degree program and have earned a diploma. In order to enroll in a master’s degree program, the bachelor’s degree needs to be in the same or at least a related field. The master’s degree program is supposed to demonstrate a student’s mastery over a certain field of study as well as professional practice. The program is based on specific theoretical and applied topics study as well as the further development of skills that include thorough and individual analysis, critical thinking and evaluation, professional application, problem-solving skills as well as overall independent thinking. Here are some of the main characteristics of the master’s degree program;
- Learning at the master’s level tends to be more structured, practical and collaborative. Students undergo research methods training as well as work-based learning.
- Master’s degree program is supposed to have students focused on a particular aspect of their broad study area, where they will use their previously acquired knowledge and skills,
- During the master’s program, students usually tackle subjects quite thoroughly than they did during their bachelor’s program. This means that the students can get exposed to other, new subjects and knowledge that are closely related to their main study; this can help them broaden their knowledge, skills and helps them combine several subject areas, experience, and knowledge,
- The master’s degree program is also supposed to have students conduct independent research and projects within the area of their studies and interests. With the help of the professors, students are also required to learn more about how projects and research are conducted, as well as how information is presented, especially when it comes to highly specified studies area.
- During the master’s program, students are required to practice what they’ve learned so far. This is important in regards to their employment and entering the workforce after graduation.
Master’s degree program usually takes up to two years, but in some colleges and universities of specialized studies the master’s program can last longer. There are several forms of master’s degrees students can get; research master’s degrees, professional or practice master’s degrees, integrated master’s degrees and other qualifications at the master’s level. A student’s master’s degree will have a minimum of 180 credits, while in some states and countries the credit numbers vary. Different forms of master’s degree programs can also attract higher credit numbers, especially at the European universities and colleges.
Both bachelor’s and master’s degrees are academic degrees awarded by universities and colleges upon student’s completion of all the obligations and requirements that were set by the degree program. Of course, they are different in certain areas, but overall represent a basis for higher education and the extension into high higher education. Both degrees are an exceptional way for people to advance in their academic path and career.