Bachelor’s Degrees: Discovering the Benefits of a Four-Year Degree

A degree at the bachelor’s level is a popular choice among college-bound students. Offered in an array of disciplines, it typically takes about four years of full-time study to earn a bachelor’s degree. Graduates of bachelor’s programs may choose to go directly into a career or purse advanced studies at the graduate level. If you would like to launch a new career or move ahead in your current field, explore the benefits of earning a bachelor’s degree.

Overview of the Bachelor’s Degree

Where Can You Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?

Degrees at the bachelor’s level are offered at four-year colleges and universities located all across the country. Colleges may be public, private, for-profit or not-for-profit.

How Long are Bachelor’s Degree Programs?

A full-time bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete. Most bachelor’s degree programs require students to complete a minimum of 120 semester credits, which equates to about 40 college courses. Students who enroll in a bachelor’s program at a college that uses a quarter system will be required to complete 180 quarter credits in order to earn a bachelor’s.

What Types of Degrees are Awarded?

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree and the Bachelor of Science (BS) degree are the two main types of bachelor’s degrees that are awarded. The BA tends to focus more on liberal arts, humanities, and social science subjects, whereas the BS has more of a focus on math, science, and technical subjects.

What are the Prerequisites?

Degree and Testing Requirements

The prerequisites for bachelor’s programs are typically a high school diploma or GED, a minimum required high school GPA, and minimum required SAT/ACT scores.

Prerequisite Course Requirements

Prerequisite course requirements vary depending on the major chosen, but college admissions officers typically look for students who have taken at least:

  • Three years of science classes
  • Two years of a foreign language
  • Three years of high school math
  • Four years of English
  • Three years of history/ government
  • One or two semesters in the arts (recommend by some colleges)

Taking Steps to Prepare Yourself

To prepare yourself for college-level coursework and prove to admissions officers that you have what it takes to succeed in college, you should enroll in challenging high school courses, such as AP courses, IB courses, honors classes, and even college courses at your local community college. Be sure to check the specific prerequisite course requirements at the schools in which you are interested, so you can ensure that you are on the right track.

Pursing an Associate’s Degree First

Some students may choose to attend a community college and earn an associate’s degree prior to attending a four-year degree program. If you already have an associate’s degree, you will be able to transfer your credits to a four-year institution, and it should take you just two more years of full-time study to earn a bachelor’s degree.

What Areas of Study are Available?

Four-year degrees are offered in a broad range of fields. A four-year degree is the standard for entry into many careers. Majors that you can choose from include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Nursing
  • Computer science
  • English
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Foreign languages
  • Chemistry
  • Communications
  • Biology
  • Math
  • Engineering
  • Business
  • Architecture
  • Art
  • Accounting

What Curriculum is Required?

Depending on your major, you may only be required to take 30 to 36 credits in your area of study. In many cases, more than half of the coursework for bachelor’s degree programs consists of general education and liberal arts courses in subjects like English, math, psychology, and history. Some programs may also build in an internship or practicum requirement into the curriculum so that students obtain hands-on experience.

Are Courses Offered Online?

These days, many schools offer online degrees, which enable students to complete most or all of their coursework online, so that they can work full-time while earning a degree.

Exploring the Benefits of the Bachelor’s Degree

Improves Employment Prospects

For many career paths, a bachelor’s degree is a minimum education requirement. A four-year college degree provides a credential to prospective employers, which shows that you are committed, as well as knowledgeable, in your field.

Enables You to Attend Graduate School

Earning a bachelor’s degree allows you to pursue an advanced degree in graduate school, medical school or law school.

Increased Salary

Having a four-year degree is also linked to higher pay. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, the median weekly earnings of someone with a degree at the bachelor’s level was $1,108, which is $281 more than the national average and $457 more than those of individuals with only a high school diploma. Furthermore, the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ (NACE’s) September 2013 issue of Salary Survey has reported that the average starting salary for a four-year degree candidate from the Class of 2013 was $45,327.

Lower Unemployment Rate

Generally speaking, the more you learn, the less likely you are to become unemployed. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in 2013 was only 4% among those with a four-year degree—a percentage that is 2.1% less than the national average, and 3.5% less than among those with only a high school diploma.

Joining an Associate’s Degree Program

Oftentimes, the only thing standing between you and the career you want is education or a lack thereof. A bachelor’s degree is considered the standard for employment and career achievement. In addition to qualifying you for a variety of jobs, a four-year degree can also serve as a stepping-stone to graduate or professional school. If you would like to establish a successful and stable career in a field that interests you, start working towards your degree today.

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