When preparing for college, every student starts with the questions “What degree should I get?” and “What degree is best for me?”
In this article, we are going to take a look at college degrees that are available in US colleges and universities and give some practical tips on how to choose the best degree for you. But first, we’re going to look at the different types of degrees and their requirements.
College degrees in the United States fall into the following categories:
Associate’s degree - An associate’s degree is awarded after two years at a technical college, community college, or vocational school.
The following types of associate degrees are available in the US:
- Associate of Arts (AA) - AA degrees are typically awarded in the Liberal Arts and Sciences such as humanities and social science fields. An AA degree gives you the right to continue studies for a Bachelor’s degree in another college or university.
- Associate of Science (AS) - AS degrees are earned by students who are studying in applied scientific and technical fields as well as professional fields of study. With an AS degree, you can continue studying to pursue a bachelor’s degree in another college or university.
- Associate of Applied Science (AAS) - AAS degrees are awarded to students who complete a 2 year technical or vocational program, which gives students the ability to gain immediate employment in applied scientific or technical fields after completion.
- Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) - AOS degrees also give opportunities for employment, but in a broader range of industries.
Bachelor’s degree - To earn a bachelor’s degree, you need to have studied for four or five years on a full-time basis. You can also earn a bachelor’s degree over several years on a part-time basis. A bachelor’s degree opens up the opportunity for students to continue their educational pursuits in a graduate program
These are the different types of bachelor’s degrees:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) - A student can earn a BA degree if they have completed an undergraduate course or program in the liberal arts. BA degrees are typically earned in areas such as linguistics, art, music, social sciences, language and communication. BA students have more flexibility regarding the choice of courses and can explore subjects that are not necessarily related to their major.
- Bachelor of Science (BS) - A BS degree sometimes requires more credits than a BA degree and offers a narrower choice of subjects, most of which are directly related to the major. BS degrees are typically awarded in technical and scientific fields such as computer science, mathematics, biochemistry, and physics.
- Specialized bachelor’s degrees - Some colleges and universities in the US offer bachelor’s degrees with a narrower specialization, such as Bachelor of Arts in Architectural Studies or Bachelor of Science in Information Technology.
Master’s degree - To qualify for a master’s degree program, a student must usually already hold a bachelor’s degree. This is the first level of graduate study. Typically, these programs require two years of full-time study.
Types of master’s degrees:
- Master of Arts (MA) - A student in an MA program studies humanities and social sciences, such as history, linguistics, communication, administration, politics, etc.
- Master of Science (MS) - A MS degree focuses on sciences, engineering, and medicine.
- Specialized master’s degrees - As with bachelor’s degrees, some educational establishments in the US offer specialized variations of a master’s degree. One of the most popular master’s degrees is an MBA (Master of Business Administration).
Doctorate degree - This is the highest type of US college degree. It may also require a professional license to work in the field. The requirements for a doctoral degree are very strict and a written dissertation is among them.
These are the types of doctorate degree:
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - This is the most common type of a doctoral degree, which is granted in a wide range of fields, from humanities to science.
- Doctor of Education (EdD) - This type of a doctoral degree is offered to educational practitioners.
So What Degree Should I Go For?
As you can see, there is a wide range of degrees and specializations to choose from. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to which specific degree will be best for you. It’s important to make an educated decision based on your goals, interests and desired lifestyle.
You should talk to your school counselors or mentors, and gain advice from everyone you trust, but in the end, the choice is up to you. The best you can do is evaluate what you’re passionate about already and begin to explore new interests to see what clicks. Think about these passions practically, and decide if your desired field of study has a reasonable path to a career.
But if you still cannot make up your mind, then you should consider trying some career exploration activities to get an idea for what type of career you find intriguing. You should also think about enrolling in a pre-college summer program to give yourself some insight on what college-level courses are really like.
Such activities and programs will help you decide what is the best degree to get, give you a feel for the college campus atmosphere, and improve your chances for admission to the colleges you want to go to.
If you’re wondering what field of study to pursue, JKCP would like to invite you to participate in one of our programs that will assist young students in answering these complicated, important questions.
Specifically, we offer the following options:
Career Discovery Course - This course is a part of our Enrichment Program for High School Students. This program allows participants to choose two disciplines from a diverse set of options, and study one in the mornings and the other in the afternoons. These things can be as different as engineering and writing. Students who take this course will get to try new projects that directly relate to real industries to get a better feel for their own career direction.
Yale Pre-College Summer Program - Hosted by Yale University, this program gives students the opportunity to learn in a college setting and explore various majors while they’re still in high school. They can live on campus, take academic enrichment courses taught by Yale University graduate students, and get an idea of what the college experience will be like.
We hope that now you have a clearer overview of degrees in the US and feel more confident figuring out what degree you should pursue. If you’re still struggling with that choice, take a look at JKCP’s full range of summer programs. These can be helpful in determining your college major or the direction of your professional career.