Types of College Degrees


Associate of Science (A.S.)
Associate of Arts (A.A.)
Undergraduate postsecondary degrees that prepare students to transfer to a 4-year institution. An A.S. or A.A. degree can count as the first two years of a bachelor’s degree.

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)
Associate of Applied Business (A.A.B.)
Undergraduate degrees that prepare 2-year college students for employment in business, technical, medical and other careers. Example: Associates of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene; Associates of Applied Science in Retail Management.

Bachelor’s Degree
Undergraduate credential offered at 4-year college or university. A bachelor’s is a prerequisite for graduate and professional studies.

Certificate
An undergraduate postsecondary credential offered at community and technical colleges. Programs are career-specific and take less than one year to complete for full-time students. Programs can prepare for entry into a career or provide specialized training for those who already have a degree and/or are working in a field. Examples: Nursing Assistant Certificate; Accounting Clerk Certificate; Cinema Studies Certificate.

Diploma
A postsecondary credential offered at community and technical colleges. Programs are career-specific and take a few weeks to two years to complete. Examples: Sales & Management Diploma; Advanced Carpentry Diploma; Marketing Design Specialist Diploma.

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Doctorate Degree
Highest type of graduate award. Doctoral degrees include Doctor of Education (Ed.D.), Doctor of Juridical Science (J.D.), Doctor of Public Health (D.P.H.), and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).

Master of Arts (M.A.)
Master of Science (M.S.)
Graduate degree offered by universities usually requiring one to two years of full-time study. Completion of a master’s program often requires a capstone or a thesis research project and paper.

Post-Master’s Certificate
Credential from a university requiring more credits than a master’s degree, but not enough for a doctorate.

Professional Degrees
Graduate credentials needed to work in certain professions offered at a university or specialized postsecondary schools. Most programs require an undergraduate degree in a related subject, at least two years of graduate work and an intensive internship, residency or other formal work-based learning in order to qualify for licensure or professional certification. Examples of professional degrees: Doctor of Medicine (M.D.); Doctor of Law (J.D.); Master of Health Administration (M.H.A.); Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (D.V.M.); Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (Psy.D).

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate. An award that requires completion of an organized program of study requiring 18 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s. Designed for those with a bachelor’s degree who do not meet the academic requirements of a master’s degree.

 

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