What Is A Bachelor's Degree? A Complete Guide

Planning to pursue a bachelor's degree? Here is an article to guide on what exactly is a bachelor's degree, the different types, eligibility, requirements and more.

Updated by Kritika Pathak on 27th October 2020

Are you one of those students who is planning to take up a bachelor’s degree in any subject of your interest? Then it is important for you to know everything about the degree.

Bachelor's degree is a four-year undergraduate degree that offers 120-semester credits to complete the coursework in the fields of your choice such as chemistry, biology, political science, and others. A bachelor's degree is a commonly pursued degree program which helps in acquiring prerequisites and foundational skills for a strong career.

Table of contents

What is a Bachelor's Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year postsecondary degree which is categorized under the undergraduate degree. The term bachelor’s degree is interchangeably called a Baccalaureate Degree. It is one of the most traditional degrees and one of the college degree levels you must have to secure a better future.

You must be wondering, what is an undergraduate degree? The answer to this question is simple. It is a degree that is pursued after completing high school graduation which may be 3-5 years long.

Various majors can be chosen along with general, major, and elective courses. Bachelor’s Degree provides the foundation in the desired subjects opted and is a standard degree to enter into the work field.

Types of Bachelor’s Degrees

There are basically three types of bachelor’s degrees. Now, let us discuss the types and their subtopics.

Bachelors of Arts (BA) Degree

It is a degree awarded after completing a major course in the college. The degree is offered mainly for the programs focused on liberal arts, human resources, and social sciences. The course can be completed in three-four years. It offers many specializations

Some examples of the course are B.A. in English, B.A. in Public Policy, and many others. The semester credits offered in Bachelors of Arts is 120. The course has general, elective and major courses which should be completed in order to gain the degree.

Examples of Bachelors of Arts Degree are:

  • Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration provides the foundation of the concepts of administration, governance, management, budgeting, and many such concepts.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Education is a degree which trains the students to be effective teachers in the future. The course prepares an individual with learning, reading, and communication methodologies.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Geography introduces concepts such as environmental geography, urban geography, earth structures, and many others. It would help you to become a geologist.

  • Bachelor of Arts in History prepares an individual to read the research and analyze historical events and societies. It studies ancient, medieval, and modern societies and civilizations.

  • Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy builds the skills of presenting the ideas clearly and equips the students with great presentation skills. It studies life and its various theories.

Bachelor of Science (BS) degree

It is a four-year postsecondary undergraduate degree. The focus is mainly on the major courses. It offers highly specialized programs and courses are science-based. The core course is of the main concern for a Bachelor of Science degree, instead of the elective courses. It provides scientific, practical, and technical knowledge in the various fields.

Since the specializations are high, electives are fewer. The total credits are 120 in semester-based programs. Some examples of the degree include B.S. in Environmental Science, B.S. in Chemistry, B.S. in Computer Science, and many others.

Some examples of Bachelor’s of Science Degree

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing provides training to students in the healthcare sector. It focuses on preparing an individual to become a registered nurse.

  • Bachelor of Science in Computer Science provides knowledge of computer systems, applications, coding, and networking to name a few.

  • Bachelor of Science in Biology gives knowledge of human and animal anatomy, physiology, and other living organisms. It studies the health sciences and biochemical processes.

  • Bachelor of Science in Business Administration helps in developing business principles and foundation. It teaches how to manage the business and administer organizations.

  • Bachelor of Science in Physics provides knowledge of the applications and concepts of physics such as fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, electromagnetism, and many others.

Bachelors of Fine Arts (BFA) Degree

It provides training in art-based programs and is a vocational or a professional degree. The focus is mainly on fine arts, visual arts, and performing arts. It requires 120-semester credits or 180 quarter credits. Some of the areas covered in this program are visual arts, creative writing, painting, sculpture making, and others.

The course can be completed in four years. The majors taken up in the course depend on your interest such as Music, Theatre, Photography, and many others.

Some examples of Bachelors of Fine Arts degree programs are:

  • BFA in Photography teaches the students about professional photography and its various concepts such as documentary shooting, understanding of editing tools such as Photoshop, lighting tools, and many others.

  • BFA in Theatre provides the students with the skills of acting, writing scripts, directing, and many such concepts used in theatre and moving to make.

  • BFA in Graphic Design gives knowledge of various designing tools and methods such as Photoshop, Colour Theory, Computer Graphics, and many others.

  • BFA in Painting equips the students with the knowledge of drawing and using colors for creating artworks. They are used to express artistic or emotional expressions.

You may also read - Difference between BA and BFA 

Most Common subjects involved in Bachelor’s Degree

  • Biology: It deals with the study of living organisms, their physiology, anatomy, biochemical structure, and others.

  • Chemistry: It is the study of chemicals and the compounds in nature or man-made chemicals.

  • Law: It is related to the study of rules and regulations, legal institutions, justice, and many such concepts.

  • Political Science: It is the study of the political structure and political studies.

  • Engineering: It is the field of study related to technology or engineering in any field like information technology, computer technology, and more.

  • Nursing: Nursing is all about studying how to become a nurse and take care of patients.

  • Psychology: It is the study of the human mind in various social and scientific contexts.

  • Accounting: This refers to the study of accounts, storing, managing finance, and financial issues.

Why pursue a Bachelor’s Degree?

There are many factors that help one decide to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree. Some of the factors are:

  • Improved job opportunities- Since it is the minimum requirement for entering into many sectors, it automatically provides employment opportunities to the undergraduates. The job opportunities are better for undergraduates than high school graduates.

  • Income/wage increases- It is seen that the employment opportunities increase, and hence the income increases as well. Bachelor’s degree holders earn better as compared to high school graduates.

  • The basis for the graduate studies- If you want to pursue a Master’s Degree or a Doctoral Degree, holding a Bachelor’s Degree is mandatory. It forms the foundation for higher education. The subjects studied in the bachelor’s degree can be taken up for further studies.

  • Learning- A student can learn a lot while pursuing a bachelor’s degree from practical to analytical and logical learning.

While thinking of why it is important to earn this degree, the first question that pops up in mind is that- “how is a bachelor’s degree different from an associate degree?” Here are 2 major differences between them:  

  • While a bachelor’s degree is a 4-year degree, the associate’s degree takes two years to complete.

  • A bachelor’s degree program aims to round out a student not only as a potential worker but as a whole, whereas an associate degree program prepares students for entry-level work with the basic skills and knowledge needed in a field.

You may also read - Associate degree vs Bachelor’s degree

Interesting Facts about the Bachelor’s degree 

  • Four years of full-time study or about 120-semester credits.

  • Part-time students may take longer or shorter times to complete their degrees.

  • The majority of good jobs that pay at least $35,000 a year. It shows that it is worth taking up this degree.

  • Consider your career goals, your financial resource, and your schedule in order to go to the institution.

  • It is better to do research in order to find the best one for your situation to join any program.

  • Tuition for a bachelor’s degree varies from school to school. But according to the College Board, the average tuition for a full-time student in a single year at a private institution is about $11,000.

How to get a Bachelor’s Degree?

If you are wondering how to achieve a Bachelor’s degree, here are a few steps you can follow in order to attain it.

  • You can select the course you want to pursue. Check the eligibility criteria and requirements. You should look for the best colleges that offer a bachelor's degree in the course you desire.

  • After checking out the eligibility for the course, you can look out for the documents required.

  • Fill the complete application form and don’t forget to pay the application fee.

  • You can check for financial aids if it is required. Various colleges have FAFSA code or federal school code. The form can be filled and you will get to know about the grants or the loans. Various scholarship opportunities are available as well and you can look out for the ones which suit you.

  • Make sure that the documents are ready and your GPA requirements are met. Check the curriculum structure and see if it meets your interests.

  • The college might ask for essays, letters of recommendation, or an entrance exam. After completing this process, the college would notify you about the application status.

  • Once selected, you can enroll in the course and join the university/college.

  • The institute would require you to acquire all the credits required for completion of the course. General, Major, and Elective courses must be completed as well.

  • The standards laid out by the college must be met.

Eligibility and Requirements for enrolling in a Bachelor’s Degree programs

In order to register for a bachelor’s degree, you will have to satisfy certain important eligibility requirements which are as follows:

  • You should be a high school diploma graduate or have an equivalent degree.

  • Official transcripts of high school/college must be presented.

  • The student must hold a GED certificate (if required)

  • You should have the minimum ACT or SAT scores.

  • GPA requirements must be met.

  • You should hold an Associate’s Degree if you wish to enroll in the third year of college.

  • General, elective, and major courses must be completed.

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

The degree takes four years to complete however you can speed up the completion in three years by transferring te credits. The degrees are offered both on-campus and online. To understand better about the time distribution, read about how many years a bachelor's degree can take?

The online colleges offer online bachelor’s degrees, which can be in an accelerated form and can be completed in less than four years as the student can complete the curriculum at his/her pace.

The credits required to complete this course are 120-semester credits or 180 quarter credits.

Are there accelerated bachelor’s programs?

The duration of a bachelor’s program varies from program to program and is dependent on the institution you choose to get enrolled in. A student may wish to either pursue a full-time, conventional program ( of 4 years) or be a part of some accelerated online bachelor coursework which amounts to 2 years of education. Educational institutions have also availed part-time courses to students to cater to their needs.

A student with post-secondary course-work is eligible for credit transfers. This substantially reduces the tenure of the bachelor’s degree.
An associate’s degree is instrumental in earning admittance in an accelerated online program.

Assessments like the College Level Examination Program ( CLEP) and DANTES Credit by Examination ( which are attended by high-school students) accelerate education and aid students to earn an early bachelor’s degree.

Word of advice: Students with an objective to earn an early bachelor’s degree should resort to online bachelor’s programs. This grants the student to avail flexible course enrolment, students can subscribe to courses of their choice and on their own time instead of adhering to the confined curriculum of a conventional semester.

You may also read - CLEP exam

What is the average cost of a bachelor’s degree?

Just like the tenure of a program, the tuition for a bachelor’s degree experiences a variable output depending on the intuition. Often, a student ends up paying a fraction of the established school expenses due to the provision of financial aids and loans.
The College Board has reported a statistics of $11,000 as the median tuition for a full-time enrolment in a private, non-profit conventional school.

The affordability of a college is largely dependent on the following:

  • Type of institution - public / private

  • The state of enrolment

  • Available and earned financial aid

  • Your residence status - in-state/out-of-state

Online bachelor degree programs do not institute tuition based on the residence status ( in-state/out-of-state ) of a student.

Top 5 hacks to earn maximum financial aid

  • Submit your FAFSA form as soon as possible.

  • Low taxable incomes are a bonus.

  • Smart saving for college can lead to a generous financial aid package.

  • Optimism is your armor.

  • Look beyond FAFSA, there is more to venture!

Top universities offering Bachelor Degree Programs

Here is a list of some top-ranked colleges or universities that offer bachelor’s degree programs.

Top 15 Highest Paying Jobs for a Bachelor’s Degree Holder

Here is a list of the top 15 jobs for bachelor’s degree holders along with their average annual income.

Job Role

Average Annual Salary

Chief Executives

$189,600

Computer and Information Systems Managers

$142,530

Architectural and Engineering Managers

$140,760

Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

$140,340

Petroleum Engineers

$137,170

Marketing Managers

$134,290

Financial Managers

$127,990

Sales Managers

$124,220

Natural Sciences Managers

$123,860

Compensation and Benefits Managers

$121,010

Civil Engineers

$86,640

Nursing

$73,730

Finance

$68,350

Management 

$104,240

Dentist

$65,800

Conclusion

Bachelor's Degree is an important degree that can build the foundation in the subjects you choose and help you make a career in it. It is typically the basic requirement for entry-level jobs in many professions.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1.How to apply for the bachelor's degree program?

    Check the application deadline and fill in the form before that. You need to be a high school graduate and meet the minimum GPA, SAT or ACT score requirements. 

  • 2.What is the duration of the degree?

    The duration depends on the course, however, the course can be completed typically in four years. It can be completed in less than four years if you enroll in an accelerated online course. 

  • 3.How many credits are required to complete the course?

    You would need to acquire 120-semester credits or 180 quarter credits for a bachelor's degree course. 

  • 4.Are there any financial assistance facilities available?

    Yes. There are many federal, state and local scholarships available along with grants and loans. Work-study is also available.

  • 5.Are the online bachelor degrees accredited?

    Yes. Online colleges provide accredited degrees, (except few exceptions). You should always check about the accreditation status of the university/college before enrolling in any course.