Types of schools

Degrees explained

Associate degrees are offered at community colleges. Generally, community colleges are open enrollment, but some programs are selective with limited enrollment. These programs usually have a separate application and specific admission requirements. It usually takes 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 programs are offered at public and private colleges. 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

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 a career field.

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

A master’s degree is an advanced degree also known as a graduate degree. The length of these programs vary depending on what field you are studying and whether you are attending full-time. Many people have a full-time job while attending classes online or at night for a graduate degree. Admittance to a master’s programs is competitive and based on essays, entrance exams (GRE, LSAT, MCAT, etc.) and undergraduate coursework/degrees.

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

A doctorate degree is the highest level of academic degree. Doctorate degree programs can last anywhere from 2 to 10 years depending on a chosen field of study and prior degree(s). 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. Working at the highest level of medical or legal professions typically requires a doctoral degree.

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

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