What is a Bachelor's Degree?

A bachelor degree is the most traditional degree given by US colleges and universities. It normally requires at least four years but not more than five years of full-time college-level coursework. The two most common classes of bachelor degrees awarded by US schools are the bachelor of science degree (also called the B.S.) and the bachelor of arts degree (also called the B.A.). Some schools offer only the B.A. degree, even for science majors (such as a B.A. in biology). Other schools offer both the B.A. and the B.S.

A bachelors degree is what most students pursue when enrolling in a US university or college. In fact, people with a bachelors degree earn substantially more than those who don't have one. More and more jobs and careers today require applicants to posses one. Some would argue that a bachelors degree is the first step to success. At the very least, it helps open doors of opportunity.

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All students pursuing a bachelors degree must select a major, usually by the end of their second year. Students must complete a required number of courses (or units) within their major in order to graduate with a degree in that major. They may also be required to complete a number of courses in closely related fields in order to satisfy other requirements. For example, a student who is majoring in chemistry will not only have to complete chemistry courses, but also mathematics, biology, and physics courses in order to graduate with a bachelor of science degree in chemistry. In addition to the requirements for the major, students must also complete a series of courses outside of their major. These requirements will apply to all students attending the college, regardless of major. For example, all students may be required to complete courses in writing, foreign language, communications, and American history. Without it, they cannot graduate.

There are various types of schools that offer bachelors degree programs. The different types of US schools can be classified into the categories that are described below.

Private universities

These are schools that are operated by private individuals and are financed by private funds. These schools are not controlled by any government agency and also offer many bachelors degree options. Tuition at private schools is normally much higher than at public schools because of the lack of financial support from the government. There is no difference between the amount of tuition paid by American students and foreign students. Obtaining a bachelor's degree at a private university or college is what many international students choose. Make sure the university is properly accredited so that your degree will be recognized.

Public universities

These are schools offering bachelors degree options are operated by a state government and are financed by public funds. They are also called state universities and sometimes have the word state in their names (for example, San Diego State University). The tuition charged by these schools is typically much lower for students who are residents of the state where the school is located. Public universities offer bachelor's degrees and some offer master's and PhD degrees, too. Students who are residents of other states and international students will pay higher tuition because they and their parents have not contributed to the taxes that help finance the schools. The bachelors degree programs offered at public universities vary per school and are popular with international students.

Liberal arts colleges

These are schools that offer bachelor's degree programs and provide students with a broad-based, rather than a highly focused, education. These schools are described in detail in the Liberal arts section.

Institutes of technology

These are schools that offer bachelor's degree programs and courses primarily in the fields of science and engineering. Unlike a liberal arts college, institutes of technology provide students with an education that is focused in their major. These schools are usually best known for their graduate programs.

Religiously affiliated universities

These schools offering bachelors degree programs were founded by religious organizations. Most religiously affiliated schools in America were founded by Christian organizations, but other faiths are also represented. These are all privately funded, and many offer what is referred to as a liberal arts education. Nearly all will admit students of all faiths, and only some will require students to attend religious services.

Specialized vocation schools

These are highly specialized schools that offer vocational training in certain fields. Examples of such schools would be Julliard (acting), Berkley, (music), Parson's School of Design (fashion), etc. In addition to bachelors degrees, these vocation schools also often offer graduate degrees.

Online colleges and online universities

Besides physically attending a school in the USA, international students also have the option of obtaining their bachelors degree online.

What is the value of a bachelor degree?

According to the Census Bureau, over an adult's working life, high school graduates earn an average of $1.2 million; associate degree holders earn about $1.6 million; and those with a bachelor degree earn about $2.1 million. That means that a bachelor degree holder earns almost double that of a high school graduate. In addition, it has been reported that bachelor degree holders save more during their lifetime.