What are the most common degree levels available to students?

The three main paths to higher education are through Associate’s, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree programs. Students can use these three courses of study to learn about a variety of topics and most Colleges offer courses either online or on campus.

An Associate’s Degree is typically a two year degree and may consist of about 20 classes or 60 credit hours. This course of study can prepare students to earn four-year degrees or may allow them to immediately enter the workforce.

A Bachelor’s Degree, also called a Baccalaureate Degree, takes about four years to complete and is typically comprised of 120 credit hours or 40 courses. Depending on the course of study and the institution, some of these programs may also require an internship or laboratory work.

Individuals who enroll in Master’s Degree programs earn advanced degrees in about two years. These courses of study can give more in-depth and specialized knowledge than other programs and are designed for people who have already completed a Bachelor’s Degree.

What are the benefits to earning each type of degree?

A major benefit of completing an Associate’s Degree program is that it only takes about two years to finish and may be cheaper than earning a Bachelor’s Degree. Like most college programs, earning an Associate’s Degree may qualify people for more jobs. Currently, registered nurses, fashion designers, paralegals and pharmacy technicians are usually required to hold an Associate’s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010-2011 Occupational Handbook (BLS).

Completing a Bachelor’s Degree may further increase the number of jobs that a graduate will be qualified to hold. According to “Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements Through 2018,” a 2010 study by Georgetown University, about one-quarter of all jobs will require this credential by 2018. Currently, in order to become a financial manager, athletic trainer, social worker or news reporter, an individual typically needs at least a Bachelor’s Degree the BLS reports.

Like an Associate’s Degree program, a Master’s course of study takes about  two years to complete. However, a Master’s program can provide professionals with a deeper insight into their field, giving them a specialized knowledge that can help them become industry leaders. With this credential, people are qualified to hold many jobs, such as top executive, audiologist and market researcher, according to the BLS.

What should a person consider when picking a degree program?

The first thing that an individual must think about is what they want to major in. From wine making to mathematics, there is a degree program for almost every subject. It is up to students to decide which areas they are interested in and which field they would like to work in. Typically, high school guidance counselors or college advisers can give individuals advice in this area.

Individuals should also consider what their ultimate career goal is. Most jobs require a certain amount of higher education, thus, adults should research exactly what the college requirements are for their future position before pursuing a degree.

Students may also want to consider whether they want to enroll in a campus-based or online program. This may make a big difference to people who plan to work or maintain family responsibilities while taking classes, as online courses tend to be more flexible for busy individuals.

What is the best degree program to increase salaries?

According to the BLS 2010 Current Population Survey, people who have earned Master’s Degrees tend to have higher salaries than those with less education, as they can earn about $66,144 per year, on average. However, any type of degree program may be able to increase a student’s annual earnings. While a high school graduate makes about $32,552 per year, an Associate’s Degree raises this to $39,884 annually and a Bachelor’s Degree can further increase it to $53,976 yearly.

*Source Reference: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. http://www.bls.gov