Graduate vs Undergraduate

Learn about the differences between graduate and undergraduate degree. The undergraduate program comprises of Associate's and Bachelor's Degrees, whereas the graduate program comprises of Master's Degrees.

Updated by Kritika Pathak on 3rd July 2019

Difference and Similarities between a Graduate and an Undergraduate Degree
A graduate degree is pursued after completing an undergraduate degree, whereas an undergraduate degree is pursued after finishing high school graduation. Both the degrees are meant to offer knowledge in the subjects chosen by the students. It helps the people to make a career out of the subjects chosen in college/university.

However, the graduate degree provides a higher level of exposure on the subject as compared to the undergraduate degree and hence it is pursued after gaining an undergraduate degree.

The undergraduate degrees provide a foundation in the various subjects opted by the students and give them basic knowledge to enter the professions based on their subjects. It prepares the students to enter the graduate degree.

The graduate degree prepares the students to pursue their PhDs and gives them a better exposure as compared to Bachelor's Degree. There are various specializations available for the students in a Bachelor's Degree, whereas in the Master's Degree students usually choose the only major subject to focus on.

 What is an Undergraduate Degree?
An undergraduate degree is a 3-5 year degree and the duration depends on the course and institution chosen. The degrees offer various subjects and would help you to build a career from the subjects you choose.

The degree offers various general educations, major and elective courses. Some of the courses that are offered in an undergraduate degree are B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, B.S. in Biotechnology, AA in Public Administration and many other subjects like that. 

Importance of an Undergraduate Degree
An undergraduate degree would help gain the basic knowledge about different subjects and would help you make a career in the same. Since the degrees provide technical, vocational, practical and theoretical knowledge of the subject, it helps the students get good job opportunities after completion of the degree.

Completing the degree also helps in getting a better wage as the undergraduate students have the necessary skills needed. It’s better than the high school degree and provides diverse career options.

 Admission requirements and eligibility for enrolling in an undergraduate degree
You should be a high school graduate or hold an equivalent degree.

There must be a minimum GPA required to enroll in a particular course.

Official transcripts of the school/college must be provided for enrollment.

Students should have passed in all the exams.

Have letters of recommendation (if required).

Should complete 120 semester hours of credits or 180 quarter hours of credits.

The student must complete all the major, general and elective courses.

Colleges/Universities offering Undergraduate Degrees
Colorado State University

Ottawa University

Southern Technical College 

Capella University

Liberty University

Utah State University

Arizona State University

Waldorf University

Bay State Colleges

Arkansas Tech University

 Types of Undergraduate Degrees
Associate’s Degree: Associate’s Degree is an undergraduate degree which can be completed in two years. It is an academic program and is the first step towards gaining technical skills and knowledge about the course and the program. The degree has a shorter duration as compared to the Bachelor’s Degree and you will attain 60 credits after completing the degree. These credits can be transferred to the Bachelor’s Degree if you wish to enroll in it. However, it depends on the course and the institution and the eligibility of the student. The degrees are offered both on-campus and online. The Associate’s Degree online platform offers accelerated courses with an up-to-date curriculum.

Some features of an Associate’s Degree are:

It provides foundational and technical skills in the particular field you’ve opted for.

The degree is fast paced and can be completed in two years.

The tuition cost of the degree is lesser than the bachelor’s degree the duration of the degree is just for two years.

The degree would prepare you to enter the workforce in the respective field you wish to enter in accordance to the subject you opted for in the degree program.

You would be provided with adequate skills and training in order to become a professional.

The time would be saved as the degree can be completed at a faster rate as compared to others.

Upon completion of the course, you may transfer your credits earned to a Bachelor’s Degree and directly enroll in the third year of the bachelor’s degree program.

The entry requirements for the program are less than that of a bachelor’s degree program.

 Requirements and Eligibility for completing the Associate’s Degree are:
You should be a high school graduate or have an equivalent degree.

A complete application form must be submitted.

The student must have the minimum passing grades in all the subjects taken up in high school.

Minimum GPA requirements must be met.

The course must be completed with 60 credits.

An official GED certificate must be presented (if required).

Financial Assistance must be opted for if required.

 Types of an Associate’s Degree
AA: The Associate of Arts Degree or AA Degree includes the subjects such as literature, psychology, sociology, history and many general subjects as such. The duration of the degree is for two years. The degree would prove to be worthy of providing you with the required skills and knowledge in the different subjects. You can enroll in a Bachelor’s Degree with the specialty earned in an AA Degree. Some of the Associate of Arts Degree jobs you can get after completing the degree are at management positions, sales, teachers, and many others.

AS: An Associate of Science Degree (AS) is a two-year undergraduate degree which includes the subjects of liberal arts such as English, music, and sociology along with many science subjects such as mathematics, biology, healthcare and many others. It provides a diverse range of career options and offers different specializations. It could give you an entry-level work in the particular area of the subject. Some of the Associate of Science Degree jobs you can get after completing the course are Administrative Assistant, Registered Nurses, Realtors, IT system administrators and many others.

AAS: An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) focuses mainly on the major courses with the few exceptions of liberal arts subject. You cannot transfer the credits of this course to a Bachelor’s Degree or even enroll in the third year. It is a vocational degree and the duration of the degree is for two years. It would, however, provide great career opportunities for you. Some of the AAS Degree jobs which you may take up after completing the degree are Registered Nurses, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, Dental Hygienist, Radiologic Technologist and many others.

AFA: An Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) provides a degree in fine art subjects. The subjects included in the degree are Art Appreciation, Mathematics, American Literature, Communication, Visual Arts, Information Literacy and many others. You can transfer into the Bachelor’s Degree of Fine Arts after completing this course. The credits can be transferred as well. Some of the associates of fine arts jobs you would get after completing the degree are Arts Administrator, Arts Therapist, Business Development Associate, Art Teacher and many others. The degree can be completed in two years or less.

AGS: An Associate of General Science (AGS) offers a customized degree for those who are not sure about what to pursue as their major or what career should they opt for. Hence the degree takes the subjects both from the AS and AA degrees. The degrees would be practical and can be completed in two years or less. It offers a wide range of elective courses; however, you may/may not be able to transfer the credits to a Bachelor’s Degree. Some of the subjects offered in the course are Anthropology, Applied Engineering, Computer Networking, English, Geography and many others.

Some examples of Associate’s Degree Programs

Associate’s Degree in Business Management: The degree focuses on streams like economics, finance, marketing, sales and many other concepts. It provides the foundation for the concepts of Business Administration and other inter-related subjects.

Associate’s Degree in Public Administration: The course provides training to the students to become administrators. The course includes public policy, organizational behavior, comparative studies and many other subjects.

Associate’s Degree in Computer Science: The program would teach you about computer applications, coding, web designing and many other concepts. It would prepare you to enter the profession as a web developer or a computer technician.

Associate’s Degree in Environmental Science: The degree would include subjects such as Sustainable Management, Ecology, Environmental Health and many others.

Associate’s Degree in Psychology: The program has topics such as drugs abuse, cognitive science, and biopsychology to name a few.
 Universities which offer Associate’s Degree
Grantham University

Capella University

Southern New Hampshire University

Walden University

Purdue University

Ashford University

Liberty University

The University of Arizona

Colorado Christian University

Indiana State University

Careers after completing an Associate’s Degree
Desktop Publisher

Electrical Engineering Technician

Biomedical Technician

Chemical Technician

Architectural Technician

Air Traffic Controller

CAD Technician

Allergy Technician

Bachelor’s Degree
A Bachelor’s Degree is a three-five year course. It is an undergraduate degree which comprises of 120 credits in a semester pattern or 180 quarter credits in a quarter system. It is post-secondary degree and provides a foundation in the respective subjects. It is also called as a Baccalaureate Degree. It is a standard degree for pursuing a career in a respective field.

The degree can be pursued both online and on-campus. Hence the bachelor’s degree has been made more accessible. Some of the major courses available in the degree are Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting, Bachelor’s Degree in Botany, Bachelor’s Degree in Health and Science, Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies and many others.

Some features of this course are:

Provides important knowledge on the subjects you opt for.

The degree can be completed in mostly four years. It is available in an accelerated form online.

The degrees are affordable and can prepare you to enter graduate level studies.

It provides the practical, theoretical and vocation knowledge about the subject.
 Why is a Bachelor’s Degree important?
Provides employment opportunities: Bachelor’s Degree is a minimum requirement in many sectors. The degree would provide you with the potential and knowledge to develop a career.

Improves wages: A Bachelor’s Degree improves the employment opportunities and hence improves the wage rate. Bachelor’s Degree holders can earn better as compared to high school graduates.

Necessary for Graduate Studies: In order to enroll in a graduate program, you need to complete a bachelor’s degree. It is the necessary requirement.

 Eligibility and Requirements for Enrollment in a Bachelor’s Degree
You must be a high school graduate or have a GED certificate.

The application form must be complete.

The ACT or SAT scores are required.

Minimum GPA requirements should be met.

Have an A(if you want to get enrolled in the third year directly or transfer the credits)

Official high school scripts must be presented.

General, major and elective courses must be completed.

 Types of Bachelor’s Degree
B.S. or Bachelor of Arts degree can be completed in four years. Its focus is mostly on liberal arts majors along with various specializations. The course comprises of 120 credits and has fewer specializations as compared to the other courses. Some of the programs offered in this degree are Bachelor’s of Arts in Public Administration, Bachelor’s of Art in Music, Bachelor’s of Arts in Human Services and many others. The course would comprise of the general education courses, elective courses, and major courses. The focus of the degree is mostly on social sciences, humanities, and liberal arts.

B. A or Bachelor of Science Degree would provide highly specialized courses in many fields such as Botany, Mathematics, Physics and many other subjects as such. The course is mostly focused towards the core papers instead of the electives, however, many options are available for elective papers. The degree is mostly scientific and technical base. The degree would provide the relevant skills needed to enter the profession. The degree can be completed in four years and comprises of 120-semester credits or 180 quarter credits.

BFA or Bachelor of Fine Arts is a vocational/professional degree. The focus of the degree mainly on creative or fine arts and some of the areas which are covered in the course are visual arts, sculpture making, painting and many others. The course requires 120-semester credits or 180 quarter credits.

BSA or Bachelor of Applied Science puts little focus on general education courses and is mostly offered to those who already have an Associate’s Degree. It usually provides skills-based training and practical knowledge to the student. It can be completed in four years. 

 Examples of Bachelor Degree programs:
Bachelor’s in Nursing- The degree provides knowledge in concepts such as labor and delivery, forensic nursing, psychiatric care and many others.

Bachelors in Business -The subjects explored in this degree are that of marketing, finance, human relationship management, business analytics and many others.

Bachelor’s in Mathematics- The subjects explored in this subject are quantitative analysis, calculus, vectors, algebra and many others.

Bachelors in Law - The program includes the subjects such as juvenile law, environmental law, legal institutions and many others.

Bachelor’s in Behavioral Science- The program includes subjects such as psychology, health science, Socio-biology, behavioral ecology and many others.

Universities/Colleges that offer Bachelor’s Degree
Arizona State University

Purdue University

Ohio University

Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne

Kaplan University

Washington State University

Baker University

Saint Joseph’s University

Liberty University

Ashford University

Careers after a Bachelor’s Degree
Human Relations Managers

Information System Managers

Medical and Health Services Managers

Nurse practitioner

Petroleum Engineers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Investment Analyst

What is a Graduate Degree?
Graduate Degree is a one to a two-year graduate degree which you can pursue after completing an undergraduate degree. The degree provides the knowledge in the major courses and usually, the specializations available in the bachelor’s degree can be further taken up as a Masters Degree. The graduate degree provides 36-54 semester credits and in the case of quarter credits, it provides 60-90 credits. 

Why is a Graduate Degree important?
Gives varies job opportunities and high-level positions at different organizations.

It improves the salary since a person becomes more qualified to do jobs.

The graduate studies provide a better foundation in the desired subjects and become a foundation of doctoral studies.

 Eligibility Requirement for a Graduate Degree
You must hold an undergraduate degree in the required subjects.

GRE scores must be available.

The candidate must pass in the entrance exam if required.

You must complete 36 to 54-semester credits or 60 to 90 quarter credits.

 Types of Graduate Degrees
MS or Master of Science- The degree is concerned with higher level education in technical or science based subjects. Some of the courses which are included in the degree are MS in Environmental Science, MS in Mathematics, MS in Psychology and many others. The degree can be completed in two years. The students learn the skills of critical thinking and research methodologies.

MA or Master of Arts- It is a degree with a focus on the subjects of social sciences, humanities or fine arts mostly. The students receive the lectures and seminars on various topics concerned with the subjects. The duration of the degree is two years. Some of the courses offered in the degree are MA in Political Science, MA in Spanish, MA in International Relations and many others. The course would prepare you to pursue the career in the desired subject.

M.Phil or Master of Philosophy- The degree is a postgraduate research degree. It consists of independent projects and can be completed in 2 years.

Specialized Graduate Degrees
M.Arch or Masters in Architecture is a graduate degree awarded in the field of architecture. The students pursuing architecture course as the Master's degree are awarded M. Arch.

SW or Masters in Social Work- The students pursuing a graduate degree in Social Work are awarded this degree.

MBA or Master of Business Administration is awarded to the students who have completed their graduation in Masters in Business Administration.

MPA or Master of Public Administration is awarded to the students who have completed their graduation in Public Administration.

MPH or Master of Public Health is awarded to the students who have graduated with the degree in Public health or related fields.

LLM or Master of Laws is taken up after graduating with an undergraduate degree in law. 
Some examples of Graduate Degree Programs
Masters in Economics- The degree would provide high-level knowledge in the field of economics and includes concepts such as Financial Analysis, Macroeconomics Theory, Business Leadership and Human Values and many other subjects.

Masters in Health Science- The program provides knowledge in the subjects such as Biostatics, Environment Health Sciences, Botany and many others.

Masters in Information Technology- The course includes subjects such as IT Strategy, Information Systems, Enterprise Networking and many others.

Masters in Literature- The degree includes children literature, philosophy, comparative literature and many such subjects.

Masters in Theology- The degree studies subjects such as world religions, history, and religion in this century to name a few.
 Colleges offering Graduate Degrees

George Washington University

Strayer University  

Queens University of Charlotte

Lewis University

West Virginia University

Ottawa University

University of Denver

North Carolina Central University

Concordia University

Regent University

Careers which requires you to have a graduate degree




Clinical Therapists


Genetic Counselors

Public Policy Analyst

Chief Executive Officer

In many fields, if you want a better work and better opportunities pursuing a graduate degree is a must. But mostly it is a matter of personal choice whether one wants to go for a graduate degree or not. As some people think that the time they would take to complete a graduate degree they can gain more experience and earn more. Thus, it is just a decision that one has to make, keeping in mind their future endeavors.


  What is the difference between graduate and undergraduate?

Undergraduate Degree is pursued after high school graduation whereas Graduate Degree is pursued after completing an undergraduate degree.

  What is the duration for an undergraduate and a graduate degree?

Duration for an Undergraduate degree can be from 2 to 5 years whereas the duration for a Graduate degree is 1 to 2 years.

  What are the requirements for the graduate and undergraduate degree?

GMAT or GRE scores.

Official transcripts of school/colleges.

SAT or ACT scores

Minimum GPA scores





  Are financial aids available for the graduate and undergraduate studies?

Yes. Financial aids are available both from the federal, state and institutional bodies.

  How to find out about the best undergraduate and graduate schools?

Check the information about the courses, college accreditation, college ranking, resources for academic purposes, tuition fee and subjects offered.

  What is the age limit to attend college/university?

You must be a high school graduate an at lease 17 years of age.