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The bachelor's degree is the most commonly awarded undergraduate degree and is required of students who seek to enter graduate-level research programs and study for higher degrees. Most bachelor's degree programs are designed to require 4 academic years of full-time study. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, bachelor's degrees in architecture (B.Arch.) and some engineering specialties require at least 5 years of full-time study. As with the associate degree, some students at the bachelor's degree level are also enrolled part-time. The time taken to complete a bachelor's degree program is thus often longer than 4 years, with 5.5 years being the current average.  The range may be due to additional credits mandated by some engineering programs, or also due in part to the large number of part-time adult learners.

Bachelor's Degree Careers
The Career Cornerstone Center provides extensive career path and planning information for fields in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, computing, and medicine.  Select a section to find out more about bachelor's programs in each area.

Bachelor's Degree Titles
While the nature of the major concentration generally determines the specific title of the bachelor's degree to be earned, degree titles can be confusing. Selection of the degree name is done by the institution through its academic policies. Majors in the humanities, social sciences, philosophy, religious studies, and interdisciplinary or cultural area studies frequently receive a Bachelor of Arts (B.A. or A.B.). Programs in mathematics, the physical sciences, engineering, and some professional fields may receive a B.A., although most receive a Bachelor of Science (B.S. or S.B.), or a degree with the specific name of the subject studied (such as business administration--B.B.A., education--B.Ed., or nursing--B.S.N., etc.).

Bachelor's Degree Statistics
According to the U.S. Census Bureau there is a true economic value to education. Over the course of their working lives, adults are likely to have higher earnings the more educated they are. U.S. Census Bureau tables showed that more education continues to pay off in a big way: Adults with advanced degrees earn four times more than those with less than a high school diploma. Workers 18 and older with a master's, professional or doctoral degree earned an average of $82,320 in 2006, while those with less than a high school diploma earned $20,873. Financial gains are predicted at each successive level of schooling completed in between. Workers 18 and older with a bachelor's degree earned an average of $56,788 in 2006, while those with a high school diploma earned $31,071.

About 33 percent of young women 25 to 29 had a bachelor's degree or more education in 2007, compared with 26 percent of their male counterparts, according to tabulations recently released by the U.S. Census Bureau. The report showed that among adults 25 and older, men remain slightly more likely than women to hold at least a bachelor's degree (30 percent compared with 28 percent). However, as the percentage for women rose between 2006 and 2007 (from 27 percent), it remained statistically unchanged for men. However, these statistics do not hold for all math and science based fields, such as engineering where there is a great need to increase the number of women and minority graduates. In addition, the report showed that more than half of Asians 25 and older had a bachelor's degree or more (52 percent), compared with 32 percent of non-Hispanic whites, 19 percent of blacks and 13 percent of Hispanics.

Accreditation
Several government-approved organizations evaluate and accredit schools. The approval of these organizations signals that a school meets basic academic and financial standards. There are seven accrediting organizations approved by the U.S. Department of Education, one for each of seven regions.

Beyond broad school accreditation, specific programs are also accredited. Professional and industry associations or organizations -- such as ABET for the engineering and computer science fields -- also accredit programs that train professionals for specific occupations. Click here for more information about academic program accreditation.

Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the U.S. Department of Education.
 


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