Starting university can be a confusing time for school leavers, especially when they are unsure of the next path to take. Understanding the different levels of university degrees is a good start to help students feel confident when making these decisions and make the most of their time at university.
The first level of university degrees is the Associates degree, often requiring a student to have their high-school certificate (or equivalent). Associates degrees are offered at technical schools or community colleges and are typically two years in duration. If students wish to gain an entry-level position for a wide range of jobs including graphic design, air traffic control, nursing and the police, this is a great degree option to provide students with adequate training. Transferable associate degrees are also available for students who wish to continue their education at university after covering the foundation educational requirements. Two of the most common Associate degrees students attain are Associate of Arts and Associate of Science.
The second level of university degrees is a Bachelor’s degree, which also requires students to have a high-school certificate to apply. This is the most commonly chosen undergraduate program for school leavers and often require three to four years full time for completion. Students completing a Bachelor’s degree are given the opportunity to select one or two areas to major in for their studies, with common choices including finance, biology and communications. Upon graduating, students have qualifications to work in entry-level and often management-level positions. Alternatively, students may choose to continue their studies in other graduate programs. A common example of Bachelor’s degree is a Bachelor of Arts.
The third level of university degrees is a Master’s degree. This is a graduate program which gives students the opportunity to specialize in a chosen area of study, which often involve developing a thesis or undertaking major projects. A Master’s degree requires students to complete an additional 1-2 years of study and will often involve some pre-requisites for a student to be eligible to apply. This includes the successful completion of an undergraduate degree, alongside achieving a threshold grade point average (or equivalent) and may even require students to sit an admission exam. Successful Master’s graduates have qualifications to work in advanced jobs in executive positions. A common example of a Master’s degree is a Master of Science.
The most advanced degree is the Doctoral degree, commonly referred to as a Ph. D. To apply, students must have a bachelor’s degree and in some cases a master’s, alongside other entry requirements such as sitting standardized tests and providing letters of recommendation. Doctoral degrees take several years to complete and involve a major research project. There are differences in Doctoral degrees depending on the field of study, for example medical programs will include the completion of practical clinical hours. Those graduating with a Ph. D with have qualification to work as experts in research. A common of a Doctoral degree is a Doctor of Medicine.
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