Bachelor Degree | B.F.A., B.A., B.S., Degree Undergraduate Programs

The Bachelor Degree, sometimes called a ‘college degree’, a ‘baccalaureate’ or an ‘undergraduate degree’ is a postsecondary degree that students often consider ...

straight from high school, or transfer into from an Associate’s degree program.

What is a Bachelor Degree?

The Bachelor Degree is something of a portal. Since many of today’s professional careers require candidates to have a bachelor’s degree related to their prospective job, earning this credential may open doors to a variety of occupations. This includes business and financial occupations,[i] management occupations,[ii] and computer and technology occupations[iii] just to name a few sectors. Plus, if you aspire to attend graduate school (think: law, healthcare, teacher education), the undergraduate degree is almost always required; there are some combined bachelor’s and master’s programs where this might not apply.

FACT: The BLS has classified more than 150 occupations that typically require a bachelor’s degree for entry. Between 2010 and 2020, these occupations are projected to have more than 8.5 million job openings. Occupations related to three groups—business, education, and computer science—account for many of these jobs.[iv]

How Many Years is a Bachelor Degree?

On average, for the fulltime student, a Bachelor’s degree is a 4-year program, although there are some accelerated formats where it could take less time and some professional programs where it could take longer. During this time, you are a freshman, a sophomore, a junior and a senior and will complete 120 semester credits which is about 40 college courses. Some colleges use a quarter system as opposed to a semester system; in this case your credit stack might be a minimum of 180 quarter credits to earn an accredited Bachelor Degree.

Credits and Courses

In most Bachelors programs, liberal arts courses (e.g. history, psychology, literature, philosophy, mathematics, social and physical sciences), and general education courses are required. In addition to these, you may have electives and any specific required courses in your major.

What is a College Major?

A college major is a group of courses that you are required to take in order to earn your Bachelor degree. Think of it as an area you want to specialize in. Usually anywhere from one third to one half of your undergraduate credits are in this major, or in a related field. Some colleges may allow you to major in two subjects or have a major and a minor (which has less courses than a major). Other colleges allow you to create your own major. Note to self: keep this in mind when you look for a Bachelor’s degree program. Now, you may not always have to commit to a major up front, and some students change their minds. Guidance counselors are there to help you figure things out. Typically, you want to choose a major that:

  • Has courses that interest you
  • Is somewhat practical in terms of job preparation (skills, knowledge)
  • Challenges you to grow and learn
  • Teaches you a specific trade (engineering, accounting, nursing, teaching)

Arts Majors vs. Science Majors

Within the above dialogue, you may have an idea whether you are more of a ‘fine arts’, ‘liberal arts and humanities’ or ‘science and technology’ person, and this comes in handy when it comes to actually choosing a Bachelor degree.

SEARCH TIP: Before choosing a college major or thinking about a career, learn about occupations that interest you and identify the types of education and training commonly required. Talking to a career counselor and researching occupations are also helpful[v]

Types of Bachelor Degrees

Let’s take a look at what that could mean by examining three of the main types of Bachelor Degrees, the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.). These different degrees may not be offered in all programs. Typically, you choose a category and then see what is offered; the following are the broad categories:

  • Bachelor in Business Programs
  • Bachelor in Criminal Justice Programs
  • Bachelor in Education Programs
  • Bachelor in Fine arts and Design Programs
  • Bachelor in Health and Medicine Programs
  • Bachelor in Liberal Arts and Humanities Programs
  • Bachelor in Public Affairs and Social Sciences Programs
  • Bachelor in Technology Programs

Bachelor of Arts

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Degree generally covers the social and physical sciences as well as the humanities which means that they have more of a critical or speculative orientation than an empirical one.[vi] The humanities include anthropology, ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, religion, art and musicology. A B.A. degree is likely to requires students to take more courses in the liberal arts and humanities and fewer concentration courses. Common majors include English, Art, Theatre, Communications, Modern Languages and Music. If this interests you, browse sponsored listings such as B.A. in Business Administration-Management Specialization or B.A. in Early Childhood Education with Preliminary Multiple Subject Teaching Credential.

Bachelor of Science

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Degree is less focused on a broad-based education, and more targeted to a specific major or concentration area. Bachelor of Science degrees may still require some general education and liberal arts, but not as many as a B.A.; the emphasis is on research using empirical evidence and quantification. Many of the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) offer principally the B.S. degree. Common majors include computer science, business, economics, nursing, biology. If this interests you, browse sponsored listings such as RN to BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) or Bachelor of Science in Accounting.

Bachelor of Fine Arts

The Bachelor of Fine Arts is a vocational or professional degree, and the goal or intention behind it is to prepare graduates to become professionals in the world of creative arts. Fine Arts programs could include acting, theatre, dance, computer animation, writing, graphic design, painting, photography, sculpture and other media. Usually, in addition to classroom learning, a major portion of the program is taken with a practical studio component. In fact, a typical B.F.A. program in the U.S. has a two-thirds arts courses to one-third general liberal arts studies. For a B.A. in Art, this ratio may be reversed[vii]. If this interests you, browse sponsored listings such as Bachelor of Fine Arts in Interior Design or Bachelor of Fine Arts in Media Production.

College Campus or Online Bachelor’s Degree?

Another decision that may be in your hands, depending on the program, is whether to attend class on a college campus or earn an online Bachelor Degree. Often, colleges and universities make their courses available in both formats, so you are getting the same quality in these cases. Campus-based programs offer the traditional ‘college-experience’; you get to meet and interact, participate in your school life and extra-curricular activities, access the onsite facilities (libraries, laboratories, student lounges, services) and learn in real-time from your professors.

On the other hand, let’s say you are a working student, have a family, live too far from your number one choice of schools. In this case, distance-learning can make your degree within reach through the use of web-based educational software. Usually you can access your courses and submit assignments through a course management system; study wherever you have Internet. Of course, you need to be autonomous. Some online degrees may be 100% online or partially online (hybrid), in which case you will have some on campus visits (intensives) plus the convenience of distance-learning combined into one.

Accreditation

According to the United States Department of Education, the goal of accreditation is “to ensure that education provided by institutions of higher education meets acceptable levels of quality”[viii] There are both national and regional accrediting agencies as well as specialized accrediting agencies for different fields. Some of these are the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. If you plan to work in a field where you need state licensing, or you plan to attend graduate school, graduating from a legitimately accredited school or program is important.

Continued Education

The next step after a Bachelor’s Degree is the Master’s degree. The choice of whether to earn a graduate degree is often linked to your intended career. In some occupations, you may actually need a master’s degree to qualify for entry-level jobs, and in other occupations, a master’s degree may not be required but having one might lead to advancement or higher pay[ix]. Business, Education, Healthcare, Social Service, and STEM fields are some instances[x].

Take the Next Step

Choosing a college, a major, a Bachelor degree, and making plans and preparations to initiate or further your professional life can seem daunting, so take a breath and take that next step with confidence. You can read through brief descriptions of each degree and reach out to any and all of the schools with interesting programs for more information with the easy to use navigation. Continued success as you embark on your undergraduate degree!


sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/home.htm |[ii] bls.gov/ooh/management/|[iii] bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/home.htm |[iv] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2013/summer/art03.pdf |[v] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2013/summer/art03.pdf[vi] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humanities |[vii] en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bachelor_of_Fine_Arts \|[viii] ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html |[ix] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm |[x] bls.gov/careeroutlook/2015/article/should-i-get-a-masters-degree.htm

.

Learn More About Bachelor in