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The Different Degrees Available

A prospective student preparing to go to college must make a decision on the type of degree they wish to pursue. First, review the different degrees available:

Vocational Training.

Vocational training involves receiving a postsecondary education in a very specific field. This type of training can range anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years and supports a single career choice. Vocational training includes early education, childcare, beauty school, and bartender school, to name a few. Vocational training can be complimented or substituted with an apprenticeship. Vocational training cannot later be applied to a Bachelor's Degree.

Associate's Degree.

An Associate's Degree is a 2-year degree that gives the student general education and touches on a major of choice. This degree provides entry-level experience for a chosen field and can later be used as qualification for the general education requirements of a Bachelor's Degree. Because an Associate's Degree can contribute to the ladder of education, it is often a preferred choice over vocational training for the quick college experience.

Bachelor's Degree.

The Bachelor's Degree is the 4-year degree or "traditional college degree." A Bachelor's Degree requires selecting a focus of study, or major. The first two years are spent on general education, and the second two years are spent on the major of choice. A Bachelor's Degree provides a solid foundation of educational knowledge and can later lead to pursuit of a Master's Degree. Bachelor's Degrees come in the form of a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts.

Master's Degree.

The Master's Degree is an additional two years of school beyond the Bachelor's Degree. The Master's Degree provides more focus to the Bachelor's Degree experience; for example, someone with a Bachelor of Science in Business can pursue a Master of Science in Business Administration (M.B.A.). The M.B.A. is one of countless Master's Degree options available. Like the Bachelor's Degree, the Master's Degree comes in the form of a Master of Science and a Master of Arts. Once a student obtains their Master's Degree, they can begin pursuing their Doctor's Degree. A Master's Degree involves a student writing a thesis paper.

Doctor's Degree.

The Doctor's Degree is provided as a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) or as a Doctor of Medicine (M.D.). This is a highly-specialized degree that involves two additional years of study on top of the six years already invested into the Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree. Prestigious occupations that require a Doctor's Degree include teaching higher-level education, medicine, and research. Certain career fields will mandate an extended internship or practicum in addition to obtaining the Doctor's Degree.

Degree in Law.

A Degree in Law, or Juris Doctor (J.D.), is a specialized area of study in which the student familiarizes themselves with law and criminal justice. It involves its own regiment of education and prepares the student, over six years of study, for the Bar Exam. Now that you understand the different degrees available, it is time to figure out which one is the best for you. To help determine which degree you should choose, ask yourself the following

questions:

1.Why am I furthering my education or vocational knowledge?

Answer:
"I am just leaving high school and would like to attend college." The traditional 4-year degree is a good place to start. A Bachelor's Degree can later become a Master's Degree if you wish to continue your college experience at that point, or a Doctor's Degree. If you are unsure whether you want to commit to four more years of school, you can start with an Associate's Degree and move up to a Bachelor's Degree at your discretion.

Answer:
"I would like to further my career/education." Maybe your career is already established and/or you have some previous college experience already under your belt. If you have acquired a Bachelor's Degree, you could continue on to a Master's Degree. If you have been in your career for awhile and are just starting college, you might want to pursue a Bachelor's Degree in a field related to your current occupation. Distance learning is a solid option for someone that already is committed to a busy lifestyle.

Answer:
"I would like to become certified for a specific career." If your career goals are based on certification, you might be looking for vocational training, or for a very specific degree. For example, if you are interested in law, you will want to pursue a Degree in Law; if you are interested in being a preschool teacher, you should participate in a specific vocational program designed for early childhood teaching; if you are looking to be a masseuse, you will want to attend a massage therapy school. If you want to be a doctor, you should go to medical school.

Answer:
"I just want to learn." Great! Make sure to set yourself a reasonable goal so that you do not become uninterested in your future endeavor. You could start off with something small, like an Associate's Degree, or start with the traditional 4-year Bachelor's Degree.

questions:

2.What is my previous educational experience?

Answer:
"I just graduated high school." Look into the traditional 4-year degree unless you've already determined a vocational study you would like to pursue.

Answer:
"I have some college, but I never graduated." Make sure whatever college you attend, your units transfer over! There's no sense taking the same class twice. Continue towards a Bachelor's Degree.

Answer:
"I have graduated college." A Bachelor's Degree follows an Associate's Degree; a Master's Degree follows a Bachelor's Degree; and a Doctor's Degree follows a Master's Degree. Find out where you are in the educational ladder and pick the path that's best for you.

questions:

3.What are my career goals?

Answer:
"I would like to pursue a new, specific career." Look into the education that career requires. You do not want to "over school" yourself for a position that could be filled through vocational training or an Associate's Degree. You also want to make sure you get enough school to qualify, in the case of pursuing higher positions like becoming a clinical therapist.

Answer:
"I would like to further my current career." Look into evening or distance learning classes and pursue a degree based on what your current employer is looking for. The Master's of Business Administration is a great place to start if you have a Bachelor's Degree and are looking to move up the business industry. Your employer can advise you on what focus of study would best enhance your career, and may also provide financial aid if your goals match up with what they have in mind for your advancement. The type of degree you decide to pursue determines the colleges you should be interested in. Once you find the degree of your choice, look for colleges that offer this degree, then request information from those schools. Remember you can request information from more than one school at a time. A college or university will be happy to provide information to you concerning your degree of choice and whether or not their institution can meet your needs