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Types of Degrees

Choosing the type of degree program to enroll in is as important as choosing the type of school to attend.

Different careers require different types of education. Be sure to check the requirements for each school. You might have to earn a specific degree before you can get another.


A certificate helps you gain a specific skill or train for a specific job. You can usually earn one in a year or less if you are a full-time student. Certificates are usually earned at community or technical colleges. Some four-year colleges also offer certificates.

Associate Degree

An award offered by technical, community, and some private career colleges. This degree usually requires at least two years of study beyond high school. There are many types of associate degrees. Some associate degrees can transfer to another college to complete a bachelor's degree. Always talk to an advisor at your current school and the school you plan to attend to see how it will transfer.

Bachelor's Degree

This degree is required for most professional careers. The degree usually takes four years to complete at an accredited college or university.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate

This award requires 18 credit hours of study beyond a bachelor's degree.

Master's Degree

This degree typically requires you to have a bachelor's degree first. It usually requires at least one, or up to two, years of full-time coursework at an accredited university. You must also complete a thesis, or original research project and paper.

Post-Master's Certificate

This award requires 24 credit hours of study beyond a master's degree.

Professional Degree

This degree requires two or more years beyond a bachelor's degree at an accredited university. It is the minimum requirement for some professional careers, such as lawyer and pharmacist.

Doctorate Degree

This is the highest-level graduate degree. It requires at least three years beyond a bachelor's degree. It can sometimes take four to six years to complete at an accredited university.

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