degree options


You will help your students use the ASPIRE resources to explore college options in the "College Options" section. However, here are some of the basics that you should know before meeting with your student.

Post-secondary Options

  • apprenticeships
  • occupational/career school
  • career technical school
  • community college
  • public college/university
  • private college/university

Types of Degrees

Encourage students to connect with advisors in the specific colleges or schools that they choose to explore. They will have specific details on admission to the college/university/program as well as their specific school/major/field.

Training Certificates

Training certificates are offered at community colleges and private trade schools. They usually take less than two years to complete. It is a skill that is usually required to practice in that career field.

    • Examples of careers: hairdresser/barber, massage therapist, certified nursing assistant, automotive mechanic, welding professions

Associate Degree

Associate degrees are offered at community colleges and private trade schools. Admission is usually not competitive, and degrees usually take two years to complete (for a full-time student). If students plan to go on to a 4-year college, they need to make sure that their chosen associate's degree is transferable (meets the requirements of the 4-year institution).

    • Examples of degrees: Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, Associate of General Studies, Associate Degree of Nursing, Associate Degree of Business, Associate Transfer Degree*

Bachelor's Degree

Bachelor's degree programs are offered at 4-year colleges and universities. Admittance to these schools is competitive and based on prior academics, personal essays, entrance exams (ACT & SAT), and extracurricular activities.Speak with an academic advisor at a prospective school as soon as possible, even while still in high school, to find out degree program entrance requirements.

Also known as an undergraduate degree, these programs are designed to be completed in four years for full-time students, though many students take five or six years. Be sure to know your program and school's specific graduation requirements to avoid added time onto your time in undergrad.

    • Examples of degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Science in Business, Bachelor of Nursing

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is an advanced degree also known as a graduate degree. Master's programs usually take from 1–2 years to complete. Admittance to a master’s programs is competitive and based on merit, essays, entrance exams (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc.) and undergraduate coursework and/or degrees.

    • Common degrees: Master of Business Administration (MBA), Master of Social Work (MSW), Master of Education (M. Ed.)

Doctorate Degree

A doctorate degree is the highest level of an academic degree. Doctorate degree programs can last from 2 to 10 years depending on a chosen field of study. Admittance to doctorate programs is competitive and based on merit, experience, essays and other graduate coursework and/or degrees. Programs vary greatly based on field. If a student wants to pursue a medical career at the highest level, a doctorate degree will likely be necessary.

    • Common programs: Law (J.D.), Educational Leadership, Medicine (M.D.), Physical Therapy, Counseling/Psychology, Pharmacy, Dentistry