What Is an Undergraduate Degree?

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Undergraduate degrees can play a pivotal role in enhancing a student’s job prospects post-graduation. Here’s everything you need to know about undergraduate degrees, including the different types and where they can take you after graduation.

What Does “Undergraduate” Mean?

The meaning of “undergraduate degree” is any academic degree earned by a student who has completed undergraduate courses at an institution of higher education, such as a college or university. They are also colloquially referred to as undergrad degrees. This type of degree can be earned after anywhere from two to four years of college and is divided into two main types: associate and bachelor’s degrees.

What Is an Associate Degree?

An associate degree generally requires 60 credits and takes approximately two years to complete, usually through a community or technical college. The short time commitment makes it a practical option for recent high school graduates, especially those who may have limited resources or wish to enter the workforce sooner. It is possible for a student to transfer credits from a completed associate degree to a bachelor’s program at a university depending on the school’s specific requirements. Some jobs, however, may only require an associate degree, including dental hygienists and registered nurses.

What Is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree, the most common undergraduate degree, takes about four years to complete and requires at least 120 credits. Holding a bachelor’s degree leads to greater employment opportunities compared to an associate degree. Since the program involves more intensive study of the subject in question, students will likely have a more well-rounded grasp of the concepts and make more competitive applicants for a variety of positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with a bachelor’s degree have higher weekly earnings and a better chance of employment than those without a college degree.1

Can I Study During My Undergraduate Program?

Undergraduate degrees, and bachelor’s degrees in particular, are available in nearly any subject you can think of. Traditional subjects range from English and history to the sciences, education and health care. Other students could find a fitting program in criminal justice, psychology or the performing arts. Oftentimes, students customize their college experience by adding a minor or emphasis in a subject that complements their main field of study, or by taking electives to supplement their main courses. Online undergraduate degrees are also widespread. Overall, if you can think of it, there’s likely a bachelor’s degree for it; it’s paramount that you do your research before deciding on both a school and program.

What Comes Next?

After graduating with an undergraduate degree, many people enter the workforce right away. In general, employers are more likely to hire a candidate with an undergraduate degree than one that possesses only a high school diploma.1 If your field does not typically hire employees with an associate degree, you may wish to transfer your credits to a bachelor’s degree program and expand your options.

In many cases, people wish to further their education by earning a graduate degree. This is a form of advanced education that includes master’s and doctoral degrees. Graduate education is a commitment that should not be taken lightly, as it not only demonstrates a profound dedication to learning but requires additional time and funds. Employment and earning opportunities tend to increase for those with a graduate degree, however, though it can vary based on the field of study.

Overall, undergraduate degrees provide a solid foundation of knowledge to be built upon in many different ways, whether you aim to gain real-world experience after graduation or pursue higher education in the form of a graduate degree.

No matter what form it takes, education is an investment in your future. To learn more about the many different bachelor’s degree programs offered by Grand Canyon University, visit our website today and get started on your journey to find your purpose.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.