what is a bachelors degree

What Is a Bachelor’s Degree?

Universities and colleges award degrees at varying levels, one of the most common of which is the bachelor’s degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, postsecondary institutions awarded two million bachelor’s degrees in 2017-18 — twice the number of associate degrees awarded in the same academic year.

Bachelor’s degrees win the popularity contest in higher education, that’s for sure. But what is a bachelor’s degree and what can it do for your career? Tallo is here to explain.

What Is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate program that takes about four years to complete. However, the time it takes you to earn a bachelor’s degree may vary depending on your field of study and the program. For example, it usually takes five years of full-time study to earn a Bachelor of Architecture, whereas some students have managed to earn a bachelor’s degree in less than three years through accelerated programs or by attending summer school.

Bachelor’s degree programs typically require students to complete 120 semester credit hours (30 credit hours per year), which equates to about 40 college courses in total. The program starts with a variety of general education courses to ensure a solid foundation of knowledge before progressing to field-specific courses.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Bachelor’s Degree?

There are an endless number of career paths you can pursue with a bachelor’s degree. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we rounded up some of the best jobs that require a bachelor’s degree.

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  • Computer and Information Systems Manager ($146,360 per year)
  • Registered Nurses ($73,300 per year)
  • Film and Video Editor/Camera Operator ($59,810)
  • Market Research Analyst ($63,790 per year)
  • Multimedia Artist ($75,270)
  • High School Teacher ($61,660)
  • Technical Writer ($73,760)
  • Agricultural/Food Scientist ($65,160)
  • Public Relations Specialist ($61,150)
  • Forensic Science Technician ($59,150)

Types of Bachelor’s Degree Programs

The list of bachelor’s degrees that you can pursue is a lengthy one. We would be here all day if we tried to name all the potential bachelor’s degree programs that are available. For the sake of brevity, here are some of the most common bachelor’s degree programs.

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
  • Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)

Reasons to Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree

Just because bachelor’s degrees are a popular postsecondary option doesn’t mean that they’re right for everyone. For one thing, they can cost a pretty penny. (But FYI, college scholarships can totally help with that.)

Not sure if a bachelor’s degree is right for you? Here are a few reasons why you might want to pursue a bachelor’s degree.

  • You Want to Maximize Job Opportunities – Although some people argue that bachelor’s degrees are becoming less important in the job market, that’s simply not true. On the contrary, many employers won’t even consider job candidates unless they have a bachelor’s degree. 
  • You Want to Make More Money – Money isn’t the end-all-be-all, but it definitely helps. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly earnings of bachelor’s degree holders is $1,173, or $60,996 per year. Compare this to associate degree holders who make an annualized salary of $43,472. That’s a $17,524 yearly difference!
  • You Want to Attend Graduate School – Most graduate school programs require students to have a bachelor’s degree before they can enroll in the program. So, if you’re thinking about going to graduate school in the future, you might want to earn your bachelor’s degree in a related field.

What Are the Admission Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree?

Bachelor’s degrees usually require prospective students to have a high school diploma or GED. You also need to have a decent GPA and do well on your college entrance exams, since many schools take both into account for admissions. 

In truth though, it mostly depends on the schools you’re applying for. Some colleges and universities require applicants to send letters of recommendation from teachers and advisors, while others do not. The program itself may have a list of prerequisites that you need to take before enrolling in the program, so be sure to talk with your advisor about your college goals.

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Should You Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

Bachelor’s degrees require a significant amount of time and money, it’s true. But depending on the program and your field of study, it can be well worth the investment. If you have your heart set on a career that requires a bachelor’s degree, then go for it! 

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