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Bachelor's Degrees

Getting started on your path to higher education? Then a Bachelor’s Degree is probably one of the first degree programs you’ll consider. Many rewarding and high-paying careers require at least a Bachelor’s Degree, long considered the base level education for most white collar jobs. The Bachelor’s Degree is also usually required for further graduate studies in pursuit of a Master’s Degree or Doctorate in many fields, particularly law, medicine, and education.


Today, many Bachelor’s Degree programs can be pursued at both on campus/brick-and-mortar colleges or universities as well as online schools. Regardless of whether you choose an on-campus or online education, you’ll be required to undertake four years of full-time study (on average, unless you’ve already completed an Associate Degree and have transfer credits). These four years will cover about 120-150 semester credit hours (about 40 total college courses).



In the United States, the two major types of Bachelor’s Degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS). As is the differentiation between an AA and an AS (see Associate Degrees), students pursuing a Bachelor of Arts will focus heavily on subjects in the humanities and the arts, while those choosing the Bachelor of Science will focus on subjects such as psychology, natural sciences, biological sciences, chemistry, courses designed as prerequisites for medical school, or other scientific research-related fields. Some students focused on artistic disciplines such as music or theater and painting, drawing, sculpture and other visual arts may pursue a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). The BFA is excellent preparation toward pursuit of a Master of Fine Arts, the terminal degree for most professional artistic disciplines.


Typical Courses for a Bachelor’s Degree

Depending on your school, whether you decide to pursue a Bachelor of Arts degree, a Bachelor of Science degree, or a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree will help determine how many courses you will be required to take in different subject areas or categories. All degrees will require a significant number of credit hours that satisfy requirements for your selected major, and some schools require certain core courses in math, writing, and other general education areas. You may need to take courses across a wide range of subject areas to satisfy your school’s requirements in order to receive a broad education. And depending on your major, you may need to follow a prescribed schedule of courses taken in a specific order. You may also choose to declare a double major (which may increase the number of credit hours and time required to complete your degree, depending on the courses required by the second major) or a minor concentration. Declaring a minor is very useful when your chosen major offers several concentrations or branches of study. The minor will allow you to select one for more detailed study or specialization. Alternatively, some students treat the minor almost as a double major, giving them broader exposure to a very different subject area than their selected major, and giving them an even broader exposure to different areas of interest.


Specialized Bachelor’s Degrees

Depending on your chosen career path, you may need to satisfy certain academic requirements in your Bachelor’s Degree course load in order to apply for certification or licensure by your state or by your field’s federal governing body. Some programs this applies to include economics, nursing, medicine, accounting, and teaching. In addition, some graduate programs will require that certain prerequisite courses are taken before you can begin a Master’s or Doctoral course of study. These requirements vary from state to state and from one school to another. It is important to check with your state licensing or certification offices or boards or with an admissions counselor at your university if you intend to pursue graduate studies to be certain that you are fulfilling all required courses for certification, licensure, or acceptance to a specific Master’s Degree or Doctoral Degree program. Remember that it will save you time and money if you take any prerequisite courses for your certification, license, or graduate program while you are an undergraduate rather than having to take (and pay for) supplemental coursework later on.


Careers for Bachelor’s Degree Holders

Having a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree is generally considered the base level degree for many white collar jobs. While there are far too many careers available to Bachelor’s Degree holders to list here, this is an extensive sampling* of the variety of careers you can prepare for with many Bachelor’s Degree programs:

  • Accountants and auditors

  • Actuaries

  • Administrative law judges, adjudicators, and hearing officers

  • Adult basic and secondary education and literacy teachers

  • Advertising and promotions managers

  • Aerospace engineers

  • Agricultural engineers

  • Airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers

  • Arbitrators, mediators, and conciliators

  • Architects

  • Architectural and engineering managers

  • Archivists

  • Art directors

  • Athletic trainers

  • Atmospheric and space scientists

  • Biological technicians and engineers

  • Broadcast news analysts

  • Budget analysts

  • Camera operators for television, video, and motion pictures

  • Captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels

  • Career/technical education teachers for middle and secondary schools

  • Cartographers and photogrammetrists

  • Chemists and chemical engineers

  • Chief executives

  • Child, family, and school social workers

  • Civil engineers

  • Commercial and industrial designers

  • Compensation and benefits managers

  • Computer and information systems managers

  • Computer hardware engineers

  • Computer programmers

  • Computer systems analysts

  • Conservation scientists

  • Cost estimators

  • Database administrators

  • Dieticians and nutritionists

  • Economists

  • Editors

  • Education administrators

  • Electrical engineers

  • Electronics engineers

  • Elementary, middle school teachers

  • Environmental engineers, scientists, and specialists

  • Film and video editors

  • Financial analysts

  • Financial examiners

  • Financial managers

  • Food scientists and technologists

  • Foresters

  • Geographers

  • Geoscientists

  • Graphic designers

  • Health and safety engineers

  • Health educators

  • Human resources managers

  • Human resources training and labor relations specialists

  • Industrial engineers and production managers

  • Information security analysts, Web developers, and computer network architects

  • Insurance underwriters

  • Interior designers

  • Interpreters and translators

  • Kindergarten teachers

  • Landscape architects

  • Legislators

  • Logisticians

  • Management analysts

  • Marine engineers and naval architects

  • Market research analysts and marketing specialists

  • Marketing managers

  • Materials engineers and scientists

  • Mechanical engineers

  • Medical and clinical laboratory technologists

  • Medical and health services managers

  • Meeting, convention, and event planners

  • Mental health and substance abuse social workers

  • Microbiologists

  • Mining and geological engineers

  • Mining safety engineers

  • Multimedia artists and animators

  • Museum technicians and conservators

  • Music directors and composers

  • Natural sciences managers

  • Network and computer systems administrators

  • Nuclear engineers

  • Occupational health and safety specialists

  • Operations research analysts

  • Personal financial advisors

  • Petroleum engineers

  • Probation officers and correctional treatment specialists

  • Producers and directors

  • Public relations and fundraising managers

  • Public relations specialists

  • Purchasing managers

  • Radio and television announcers

  • Recreation workers

  • Recreational therapists

  • Reporters and correspondents

  • Sales engineers and managers

  • Sales representatives

  • Secondary school teachers

  • Securities, commodities, and financial services sales agents

  • Set and exhibit designers

  • Ship engineers

  • Social and community service managers

  • Social workers

  • Software developers

  • Soil and plant scientists

  • Special education teachers

  • Survey researchers

  • Surveyors

  • Tax examiners and collectors, and revenue agents

  • Technical writers

  • Training and development managers

  • Writers and authors

  • Zoologists and wildlife biologists


*Source: Occupational Outlook Handbook 2010 from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. All occupations at entry-level position.


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