If there’s one thing we know for sure is that making a career choice is never easy. It’s followed by several doubts, a good dose of anxiety, and lots of research in advance. We’re on a constant dilemma on whether we’re having too much or not enough education for a lasting, successful career.

So what can ease this process of decision-making? Maybe having a clear idea of what each of the degrees we earn will do for us can help. Say, we already have an Associate’s degree in our hands. We went through a 2-year program that carved our minds with basic information on a selected field with which we can get an entry-level job. It sure has its own benefits, but don’t seem to feel fulfilled and keep wondering: is an associate’s degree enough?

Sure, this type of degree can prepare you for many entry-level positions in education, nursing, designing, etc. It depends, though, on the type of Associate degrees you chose to follow. For instance, an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) will be a good choice if you’re planning to transfer to a 4-year bachelor’s degree. Another similar type associated with a Bachelor’s degree is an Associate of Science (A.S.) However, the associate degree known as Occupational Degree is a different story, as it aims to specifically provide students with immediate placements upon completion of the study program. The decision is yours to make. So read on to see what options you can follow after earning an Associate’s degree.

Bachelor Degree

Typically, a bachelor’s degree takes about four years to complete. This degree belongs to the undergraduate level, and they can be earned in several different fields such as pharmacy, architecture, education, information technology, engineering, arts, law, math, business, journalism… and the list can go on and on. There are plenty of available, broad choices you can make when pursuing a bachelor’s degree. The opportunities that will be presented to you after you have earned it will allow you to practice the acquired knowledge and extend your expertise.

Some employers will consider a bachelor’s degree a sufficient level of education, and they’ll definitely take you in. That’s why most students choose to stick to this level of qualification, and they still do great things in the field they chose. However, this decision varies on so many factors. We’re saying that because you need to tailor your level of education based on the ambitions you have for the future. For instance, if you’re aiming for a higher position in psychology or pharmacy, you might be required to possess a postgraduate degree. Compiling a list of bachelor degrees and their specific majors would make such a long, utter list. Whereas the three most popular types of bachelor degrees are:

  • Bachelor of Arts (B.A. degree)
  • Bachelor of Science (B.S. degree)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A. degree)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration
  • Bachelor of Architecture

Transitioning From an Associate to a Bachelor’s Degree

Obtaining an associate’s degree in two years’ time seems like the obvious choice for someone who does not want to commit to a four-year-long program immediately. But what happens when, after obtaining your associate’s, you decide you want a bachelor’s degree? You did not just waste two years of your life, so don’t worry. Even better, you can usually transfer the credits from the associate’s degree program to the bachelor’s program; however, this depends on the college or university.

An associate’s degree program contains more general education courses, so when you transition into a bachelor’s program, what will be left to complete are the courses directly linked to your major. There are several benefits to obtaining an associate’s degree before a bachelor’s, and most of them result from the differences between the two programs. It takes roughly two years more to complete an associate’s program and a bachelor’s afterward.

Reasons to Transition to Bachelor

There are many reasons to consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree after obtaining your associate’s. First and foremost, in today’s competitive job market, having a bachelor’s degree is often a requirement, not simply an advantage. A bachelor’s program is more focused and equips students with more specialized knowledge and applicable skills compared to an associate’s. Because of this, with a bachelor’s degree, you get a better career outlook and can also aim for higher salaries and positions . Last but not least, while working towards your bachelor’s degree, you are constantly in contact with people in the same field, which can help you widen your professional network.

Differences Between Bachelors and Associates Degree

While both an associate’s and a bachelor’s are considered undergraduate degrees, there are some critical differences between the two. The first difference lies in the length of each program. An associate’s program typically lasts two years, while a full-time bachelor’s program lasts four years. A difference in the length of the program naturally means a difference in tuition, making an associate’s program the cheaper option. Lastly, an associate’s program is more general in terms of the syllabus, while the courses on a bachelor’s program are more specialized and detailed.

Master Degree

Different from a bachelor’s degree, a master’s program can take from one to two years to complete, depending on your choice of studies. You must have completed an undergraduate program, and you will surely be required to have a minimum GPA from most universities in the world. That, along with an entrance examination process such as the GRE.

What does a master’s degree do for students? Well,  it allows them to narrow down their focus and specialize in one area of study. The procedure is of the sort that you’ll be required a thesis or a capstone project in order to earn a master’s degree. There are different types of master’s degrees, just like it was the case with BA degrees. However, the most pursued ones remain.

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  • The M.A. (Master of Arts) or the M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts) which cover social sciences, communication, and education
  • The M.S. (Master of Science) covering science and social science programs
  • The M. Res. (Master of Research) prepares students with research methodologies
  • M.Phil. (Master of Philosophy)
  • The Master of Laws which allows lawyers to specialize
  • The M.B.A (Master of Business Administration) which is designed for management professionals

Doctoral Degree

Doctoral degrees—or more commonly called Ph.D. programs—are the most advanced form of degrees. Depending on the college you choose, you may be required to have completed a master’s degree prior to entering this level of education. In rare cases will your Bachelor’s degree be considered sufficient. Other requirements that you should fulfill will certainly include providing letters of recommendation and standardized test scores. In most countries, it is a research degree that qualifies the holder to teach at the university level in the degree’s field or to work in a specific profession. There are different types of doctorate degrees:

  • The Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) – is a research-focused doctorate program.
  • The M.D. (Doctor of Medicine) – the most advanced degree for medical students
  • The Ed. D. (Doctor of Education) – the highest degree level in the field of education leading individuals in positions of research and academics
  • The J.D. (Juris Doctor) – is typically a degree pursued by prospective lawyers in the United States.

However, these doctorate degrees have their differences. Some are known as professional degrees (Doctor of Education), and others are known as PhDs (Doctor of Philosophy).

Woman graduating with an Associate's degree

Difference Between a PhD and a Professional Doctoral Degree

A Ph.D. is an academic degree focusing on original research, data analysis, and the evaluation of theory. On the other hand, a professional doctorate focuses on applying research to practical problems, formulating solutions to complex issues, and designing effective professional practices within a field.

Bottom Line

In a world full of stiff competition for jobs and degrees, having a good understanding of the options available to you will certainly assist you in making better and well-informed choices. So you should make sure to check the individual college’s requirements and eligibility criteria before you apply to any of their programs.

The way we make our decisions determines the success we have in life. Therefore, before deciding on any of the degrees listed above, make sure to have a clear mind and reflect on your goals for the future. Studies have shown that the prospects of having a brighter future are higher if you possess advanced qualifications. Yet, in some cases, your work experience can be all the qualifications you need.

That’s why we at Potomac believe that career decisions are subjective. However, if you want to get more informed on what we can offer you, then contact us and learn more about the degree alternatives available at Potomac University.