Bachelor’s degrees usually take four years to complete after high school and are the highest undergraduate degrees available in the United States. Students interested usually take general education classes and choose a major for in-depth study that provides a well-rounded postsecondary education.
Overview of Bachelor’s Degree Programs
At least 120 undergraduate credits comprise a bachelor’s degree program, which splits between a major field of study with electives and core courses, and general education classes. While a minimum of 12 credits are required per semester to ensure full-time status, at least 15 credits per semester may be needed by students in order to complete the coursework within four years.
One credit equals 15 hours per semester – the equivalent of an hour every week – of classroom work, in addition to requisite preparation outside the classroom. In order to augment the coursework in some bachelor’s degree programs, a capstone project or thesis are required.
Types of Bachelor’s Degrees
The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) and Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) are the two most common academic bachelor’s degrees offered by schools. Schools offer more in-depth study in the major chosen and the ways in which to apply the practical applications taught through professional bachelor’s degrees, such as a Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.), Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.), Bachelor of Music (B.M.), Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.), or Bachelor of Business Administration (B.B.A.). For instance, more performance courses may be required in the Bachelor of Music (B.M.) program while a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Music focuses on analysis and theory.
How a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) Differs From a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
Schools more commonly offer Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees in liberal art fields, while commonly offering Bachelor of Science (B.S.) programs in business, engineering, sciences, and math. However, programs leading to either degree can be found by students in most fields of study.
The required general education curriculum, regardless of the chosen major, is the primary difference between a B.S. and a B.A. Additional courses in science and math are required within the core coursework of a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree, while additional credits in philosophy, literature, and foreign language are available in the coursework of a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program.
Choice of a Major
Students seeking a bachelor’s degree must choose a major, and they must often make the choice no later than the end of their second year, whereby the remainder of their studies can be focused accordingly. For instance, a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Chemistry is earned by chemistry majors. Many schools require students to take roughly half of their courses in the chosen major and closely related fields.
Areas of Study
Specialized schools may offer a limited number of majors. For example, a major in biology is unlikely to be offered at an art school; likewise, videography may not be an available option to students enrolled in a business school. Liberal art schools and universities offer majors such as the following:
After Completing the Degree
During the 2009 – 2010 academic year, over 1.6 million degrees were conferred (U.S. Department of Education). Many employers for white collar jobs expect candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree; graduates of the bachelor’s program may also choose to earn a master’s degree or doctorate.