Bachelor’s Degree (BS, BA)

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What You’ll Learn About Bachelor’s Degrees

What is a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree, also called a baccalaureate degree, is an undergraduate degree offered by four-year colleges and universities. It requires the completion of 120 credits or about 40 courses. Bachelor’s degrees are by far the most popular undergraduate degree offered in the United States. A bachelor’s degree is a prerequisite for entry into most master’s degree programs and is the degree level that many employers are looking for in new hires.

How long does it take to get a bachelor’s degree?

In the U.S., a bachelor’s degree takes four years of full-time study. That time can be shortened or lengthened depending on how many courses are taken in a semester, the availability of funds to pay for tuition and housing, and other work and family time constraints.

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Requirements For Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

Most bachelor’s degree programs have a general education component, composed of courses in English, science, math, communications, humanities, and social sciences. In addition to general education courses, bachelor’s degrees require students to select a major, or a particular area of academic focus (e.g., biology, math, arts, English, foreign language, etc.).

BA vs. BS

  • Bachelor of Arts (abbreviated BA or AB) The BA Degree is a four year college degree that usually focuses on the arts. Coursework may include social sciences, humanities, music or fine arts.
  • Bachelor of Science (abbreviated BS or BSc) The BS Degree is a four year college degree that usually focuses on the sciences. Coursework may include life sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences.

Learn more about other types of bachelor’s degrees and their abbreviations.

What is a BPS degree?

A Bachelor of Professional Studies (BPS) is a newer and more general four-year undergraduate degree. BPS degrees help students for workplace success and prepares students for potential advanced study. Students can choose which professional competencies or skills they want to focus on within their PBS degree program and find the courses that teach those skills.

Some universities offer various types of BPS degrees. For instance, at Syracuse University, they offer a Creative Leadership BPS degree that focuses on the leadership skills students need to thrive in the modern workplace. They also offer a Knowledge Management BPS degree that teaches effective data management that leads to an organization’s success.

How much can you earn with a bachelor’s degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with a bachelor’s degree earn 68% more than someone with only a high school diploma or GED and 42% more than someone with an associate degree. That’s an annual salary of approximately $59,124 with a bachelor’s degree vs. $41,496 with an associate’s or $35,256 with a high school diploma.

Median Annual Earnings by Educational Attainment

Need more convincing of the monetary benefits of a bachelor’s degree? The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found similar data on the monetary value of a bachelor’s degree. They found that those with a bachelor’s degree earn about $2.3 million in their lifetime, on average, which is 35% more than those with an associate degree ($1.7 million) and 77% more than those with a high school diploma ($1.3 million).

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Types of Bachelor’s Degrees and Abbreviations
30 Best Bachelor’s Degree Jobs

Transferring Credits Into a Bachelor’s Program

For students entering a bachelor’s degree program with an associate’s degree under their belt, they may have already met some, if not all, of the general education requirements. Most universities allow the transfer of up to 60 credits, from a nationally or regionally accredited associate degree program or community college program.


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