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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.
In the first year, students usually focus on completing their general education courses. These courses may be related to English, math, science, social science and humanities.
In the second year, students start taking courses that pertain to their particular major.
In years three and four, students usually dive deeply into major courses. They may also have options or requirements that involve internships or practicums.
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:
- Bachelor of Arts (B.A.): In a B.A. program, students receive a broader education and they are required to take credits in a variety of liberal arts subjects such as English, humanities, social science, and foreign language. B.A. degrees are typically pursued in fields such as communication, art, music, history and English.
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.): A B.F.A. degree focuses on the study of visual arts. While students pursuing B.F.A. degrees do take several liberal arts courses like history and English, their curriculum is mainly based on the fine art they intend to practice. B.F.A. degrees are often awarded in fields like theater, photography and dance.
- Bachelor of Science (B.S.): B.S. degrees differ than B.A. degrees because they are more focused on a specific subject matter — typically one of the scientific or technical disciplines. Students who hope to earn a B.S. are expected to take more credits directly correlated to their major. They have fewer opportunities to study topics outside of their chosen field.
- Bachelor of Applied Science (B.A.S.): B.A.S. degrees are usually earned by students who are interested in leadership roles in technical fields. They are often the next step for those who hold an associate of applied science degree and are searching for a way to advance their careers.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.): Students looking to advance in their nursing career can pursue this degree, which aims to give them advanced hands-on training and technical knowledge that goes beyond the scope of RN practice. There are a number of bridge programs designed to lead to the B.S.N.
- Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.): This degree is for students who want to work under professional architects after graduation or plan to pursue a graduate education in architecture.
- Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.): The bachelor's in engineering degree is geared toward students who want to pursue a career in one of the specific engineering-related fields, such as electrical engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering or computer engineering.
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA): Students who aim for a BBA can expect to learn the foundations of business and management theory, generally majoring in subjects such as project management, accounting, finance, human resource management, marketing and entrepreneurship.
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.
Online Bachelor's Degrees Available
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:
Art & Design
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.
What Comes After a 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.