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What is a Bachelor's Degree?

Also known as Baccalaureate degrees, bachelors' degrees are four-year degrees awarded by colleges or universities. This undergraduate degree allows students to select both an area of study (referred to as a 'major') and an area of concentration (referred to as a 'minor.') Traditionally, bachelor degrees must be completed before embarking on a master's or doctoral degree.

Traditionally, students enter a bachelor's program either directly from high school or by transferring credits from previous coursework (for example, an associate degree). As the workforce becomes more educated, many industry professionals with work experience are also returning to school to begin or complete a degree.

Why take a bachelor's degree?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that 96% of the 50 highest paying occupations require college degrees and salaries for bachelor's degree holders are projected to be 60 percent higher than for those with associate degrees.

Less than a decade ago, non-graduates still anticipated a fair chance at climbing the career ladder. Today, a college degree is almost a prerequisite for employment and certainly for promotion into management.

Increased technology in the workplace and rapidly changing demands forces companies to seek well-trained or seasoned staff. For many positions, a bachelor's degree has become the minimum expectation. A survey conducted by the Information Technology Association of America and Virginia Polytechnic and State University revealed that 83 percent of respondents required a four-year degree for all or most programming positions. Job growth for bachelor's degree holders is expected to exceed 21.9% by 2008.

Types of degrees

Bachelor's degree programs and program titles vary by educational institution. The two primary bachelor's degree qualification types are:

Bachelor of Arts (BA). This type of degree type usually requires a majority of coursework be taken in the arts; areas such as social science, humanities, music or fine arts. Bachelor of Science (BS). This type of degree usually requires a majority of coursework be taken in the sciences; areas such as life sciences, physical sciences, or mathematical sciences