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.
The Career Cornerstone Center provides extensive career path and planning
information for fields in science,
medicine. Select a section to
find out more about bachelor's programs in each area.
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.).
the most recent U.S. Department of Education data,
between academic years 2003Ė04 and 2013Ė14, the total number of
postsecondary degrees awarded increased at all degree levels:
associate's degrees by 51 percent (from 665,000 to 1.0 million),
bachelor's degrees by 34 percent (from 1.4 million to 1.9 million),
master's degrees by 34 percent (from 564,000 to 754,000), and doctor's
degrees by 41 percent (from 126,000 to 178,000).
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2016, more than one-third of
the adult population in the United States has a bachelorís degree or
higher marking the first time in decades of data. Other highlights from
"Educational Attainment in the United States: 2016" include:
Asian and non-Hispanic white populations were more likely to hold a
bachelorís degree or higher, 55.9 percent and 37.3 percent,
respectively, when compared with the black population at 23.3 percent
and the Hispanic population at 16.4 percent in 2016.
the U.S. population 25 years and older, 89.1 percent had completed high
school (or equivalent) or more education in 2016. A decade earlier, in
2006, 85.5 percent had completed high school or more education.
2016, average earnings for males age 25 and older whose highest
educational attainment was high school were $41,942. By comparison,
average earnings among females in this category in 2016 were $26,832.
2016, average earnings for males age 25 and older with a bachelorís
degree were $79,927. By comparison, average earnings for females in
this category in 2016 were $50,856.
degree attainment varied by citizenship and nativity. The native born
were more likely than the foreign-born to have a bachelorís degree or
higher (33.6 percent vs 32.4 percent). Among the foreign-born, 38.4
percent of naturalized citizens had a bachelorís degree or higher,
compared with 26.5 percent of noncitizens:
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.
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