Of the four different degree levels, the bachelor's degree was by far the most popular type awarded in the 2015-16 academic year — almost double the number of associate degrees. Between 2000-01 and 2015-16, the number of bachelor's degrees granted by postsecondary institutions increased from 1.2 million to 1.9 million — a huge jump in numbers. Of those awarded in 2015-16, over half of the bachelor's degrees were focused in six fields of study:
- Health professions
- Social sciences and history
- Biological and biomedical sciences
This increase is likely the result of more employers requiring bachelor's degrees for positions that only required high school diplomas or associate degrees in the past.
Another reason for the increase is the increased availability and flexibility of online bachelor's degree programs. Individuals can now earn bachelor's degrees through traditional campus-based schools, online programs, or hybrid programs.
5 Reasons to Earn a Bachelor's Degree
There are five major reasons why individuals may have the desire to pursue online bachelor's degree programs.
Bachelor's degrees are becoming the minimum credential to land most jobs. Degrees earned at the bachelor's level can help qualify individuals to work in their industry of choice.
Having a bachelor's degree increases an individual's earning potential and professional value. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, individuals with bachelor's degrees earn $2.3 million throughout their work life while those with only a high school diploma earn an average of $1.3 million during their working years.
The education and skills learned through a rigorous degree program can give you the confidence to pursue workplace opportunities and to deal with challenges.
Bachelor's degree holders may be more satisfied in their careers because they have an increased chance of finding a job that pays well, offers employer benefits, and provides opportunities for growth.
Students interested in careers that typically require a higher-level master's or doctoral degree usually need to earn first a bachelor's degree before enrolling in graduate school.
Timeline of a Bachelor's Degree Program
A bachelor's degree usually takes four years to earn if a student attends school full-time. But whether someone is enrolled full-time or part-time, a bachelor's degree program usually consists of 120 semester credits, or around 40 college courses. While every online bachelor's degree program is unique, most follow the same general timeline.
Types of Bachelor's Degrees
There are several types of bachelor degree programs available, although most are aligned with either the liberal arts or the sciences. These are the most common ones:
Top Bachelor's Degree Programs
Rankings are important for students to consider when they're exploring different schools' bachelor's degree programs. How do students know which program might be best for them? The methodologies behind rankings typically take into account data points that prospective students usually care about, such as tuition and fees, acceptance rates, and other factors. All of these are used to determine the top bachelor's degree programs.
To be included in these rankings, all schools must meet the following initial criteria for the specific degree being ranked.
1. Offer a bachelor's degree program, either on campus, online, or via hybrid format
2. Have awarded at least one bachelor's degree in 2015-16
3. Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables listed below
Based on those criteria, we ranked 1,371 colleges and universities in the United States on 19 criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics:
- Program prominence, based on how many bachelor's degrees were awarded in 2016-17
- Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in distance education to total enrollment
- Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
- Retention rate
- Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
- Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
- Number of programs that are offered at the bachelor's degree level on campus
- Number of programs that are offered at the bachelor's degree level via distance education
- The availability of any tuition plans
- Placement for Completers
|Ranking||School Name||In State Avg. Undergrad Tuition||% Receiving Financial Aid||Retention Rate||Career Counseling||Payment Plan|
|1||University of Florida||$4,477||93%||97%||Yes||No|
|3||Florida International University||$4,721||89%||90%||Yes||Yes|
|4||Northern Arizona University||$9,738||94%||73%||Yes||Yes|
|5||University of Central Florida||$4,478||90%||90%||Yes||No|
|7||Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus||$17,416||65%||93%||Yes||Yes|
|8||University of Memphis||$7,680||98%||76%||Yes||Yes|
|9||Grand Canyon University||$16,399||98%||64%||Yes||Yes|
|10||University of Phoenix-Arizona||$9,552||81%||33%||Yes||No|
Fortunately, there are several financial resources that can make obtaining a bachelor's degree more cost effective. Eligible students may apply for scholarships, grants, and educational loans to help pay for their courses, books, and/or living expenses. While most scholarships are merit based and awarded because of a student's academic or athletic achievements, the majority of grants are need based and distributed according to a student's financial situation or their family's financial situation. Education loans must be repaid with interest.
Why Accreditation Matters
It is vital for prospective bachelor's degree students to select an accredited program as those programs have been determined by an official accrediting agency to meet or exceed the minimum standards of quality. By pursuing an accredited bachelor's degree program, students may also be eligible for financial aid, transfer credits with ease, and appear more attractive to employers.
Fastest-Growing Careers with a Bachelor's Degree
Highest-Paying Careers with a Bachelor's Degree
What Comes After Bachelor's Degree
After a earning bachelor's degree, some individuals decide to further their education and pursue a master's degree. Others may need to earn a professional license or certification that is required for their particular occupation.
For instance, a registered nurse with a bachelor's of science in nursing is required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for licensure with the Board of Nursing in their state. Additionally, teachers must obtain a credential that allows them to teach either a certain subject matter or specific grade level.
Browse Bachelor's Programs by Subject
WorldWideLearn.com features online universities and colleges offering bachelor's degree programs in a number of disciplines. Here are some of the most popular ones:
- 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov
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- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- Is a College Degree the New High School Diploma, The Washington Post, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/grade-point/wp/2017/01/13/is-a-college-degree-the-new-high-school-diploma-heres-why-your-degrees-worth-is-stagnant/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.e8b3ffb7aba9, Accessed August 2018
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- Undergraduate Degree Fields, National Center for Education Statistics, https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cta.asp, Accessed August 2018