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Bachelor's Degree

What is a Bachelor's Degree?

By DeVry University

May 13, 2023
10 min read

A bachelor's degree is the highest level of undergraduate degree and can typically be completed in approximately four years, depending on the institution. Bachelor's degrees cover a particular discipline of your choosing and include coursework consisting of a mixture of required general education courses, program-specific courses and electives. In considering various career paths and the educational requirements for each, you may have been asking: What is a bachelor’s degree? We have the answers. On this page we’ll cover the different types of bachelor’s degrees, how a bachelor’s degree differs from other academic degrees, the benefits of a bachelor’s degree and the typical prerequisites for enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program.  

What is a bachelor's degree

Types of Bachelor’s Degrees

Awarded in majors related to business, technology, healthcare, liberal arts and more, bachelor’s or baccalaureate  degrees can be conferred in many different fields of study. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 2 million of them were conferred by higher education institutions in the United States in the 2020—2021  academic year, in more than 30 fields of study ranging from agricultural and natural resources to visual and performing arts.

But despite this broad range of academic pursuits, there are only 3 common types of bachelor’s degrees. In most cases, you’ll choose a major (the primary subject focus of your degree) and that will determine your degree type.

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

Coursework for the BA degree tends to focus on critical thinking, communication skills and holistic learning. Numerous BA majors fall under the academic areas of humanities, social sciences and communications, journalism or media.

Bachelor of Science (BS)

BS degree coursework often focuses on logic, reasoning and quantitative skills, with more courses in subjects related to math, science and technology. The academic areas of BS majors include natural sciences, healthcare, mathematics and technology and engineering.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

To earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) degree, students learn about the history, skills, methodology and industries associated with the artistic field of their choice. BFA degree majors include visual and performing arts, film and writing.

 

When mapping out your academic plan, the type of bachelor’s degree you pursue— BA, BS or BFA—is often not as critical as you might think. What’s more important is that you choose the major that aligns with your personal and professional goals. If you’re struggling to find the right fit, speaking to a college admissions representative can be helpful here.

 

How is a Bachelor's Degree Different from Other Degrees?

A bachelor's degree differs from other degrees in a few ways. Bachelor’s and associate degrees are both undergraduate degrees that help you gain a deeper understanding of a particular subject. An associate degree, however, usually only requires two years of study and is more foundational. A bachelor's degree is the highest degree you can earn at the undergraduate level.

A bachelor's degree is also different from a master's degree or doctorate, which are both graduate degrees. To pursue a master's degree, you must first successfully complete a bachelor's degree.

Benefits of a Bachelor's Degree

Earning a bachelor’s degree can afford several potential advantages that would not likely be available to you without earning a degree. Some of these may include improved employment opportunities, the possibility of higher pay and progress toward the ability to pursue a graduate degree, such as a master’s degree. 

Improved Employment Opportunities

Depending on the role, earning a bachelor’s degree may help you pursue more opportunities in the workforce. If you look at postings for jobs today, you’ll see many list a bachelor’s degree as a minimum education requirement. Still, with this kind of degree on your resume, you may find you have a greater chance of catching a recruiter’s eye.

Possibility of Higher Pay

Positions requiring a bachelor’s degree typically pay more than those requiring only a high school education. Employment statistics confirm that individuals who’ve earned a bachelor’s degree have higher earning potential  than those with only a high school diploma. Based on first quarter 2023 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workers aged 25 and over with at least a bachelor’s degree had nearly double the median weekly earnings of those with only a high school diploma.

 

Progress Toward a Graduate Degree

To further increase their earning and career advancement potential in a competitive job market, some students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree ultimately decide to pursue a master’s degree. Master’s degree program entrance requirements will vary depending on the school and the field of study, but one graduate school prerequisite is universal: the completion of a bachelor’s in a relevant subject.

 

Networking Opportunities

Professional networking can be beneficial at any stage of your career path, helping you build relationships and resources.

 

Simple networking steps might begin with social media. On LinkedIn, you can set up a profile, join groups related to the industry you work in and continue to make connections.

 

Equipped with your new bachelor’s degree, you may find networking opportunities in professional or trade associations that focus on the sector or industry you’d like to work in. Taking advantage of virtual networking opportunities like webinars or attending trade shows and conferences could be a beneficial way to connect to others in that industry.

 

To support you in making the most of these opportunities both during school and after graduation, here at DeVry we offer a variety of benefits and online career resources, as well as an active Alumni Association offering networking opportunities and lifelong membership benefits to help keep you working toward success. 

 

Lower Unemployment Rate 

As detailed in economic data from the BLS, in February 2022 people with a bachelor’s degree or a higher academic degree had the lowest unemployment rate of 2.2%. This is significantly less than the 4.5% unemployment rate of those 25 and over with no college degree and only a high school diploma or GED.

Prerequisites for a Bachelor’s Degree

Schools will have minimum requirements that you must meet before you can enroll in a bachelor’s degree program. Many of these are based on standardized benchmarks like test scores and grade point averages. Here are some typical requirements:

  • GPA: Many programs will require you to have earned a minimum grade point average (GPA) in high school, such as a 2.5 or 3.0.

  • GED or high school diploma: You will have to show that you’ve completed a high school-level education, meaning you’ve graduated with a diploma, earned a GED (General Equivalency Diploma) or passed the HiSet (High School Equivalency Test), indicating that you have the same skills and knowledge as a high school graduate.

  • Standardized test scores: Tests like the SAT and ACT are typically taken by junior- or senior-year high school students and have long been a staple of the college application process. Schools set their minimum scores at different levels, depending on the level of selectivity in their admissions policies.

  • Recommendations and essays: Letters of recommendation from high school teachers or others who can speak to your positive qualities are sometimes required. The personal essay, in which you tell your story and indicate why you’re interested in enrolling in a particular program, has also become a common accompaniment to most college applications. 

Why is Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Important?

Whether you’re preparing to pursue your first job or looking to move onto your next, earning a bachelor’s degree can be an invaluable tool if you’re looking to expand the kinds of jobs you’re able to consider. Not only will one equip you with a variety of skills and knowledge related to your chosen field, but it can also be used to demonstrate your level of knowledge and commitment.

In some instances, a bachelor’s degree may also be an employer’s minimum education requirement for a particular role. Depending on the job or the field you’re trying to get into, a bachelor’s degree might help you as you work to become a more competitive candidate by providing you with skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and communication that might help you qualify for higher-level positions. 

On-Site vs. Online Bachelor’s Degree

While the curriculum will depend on the school you’re attending, typically there is no distinction between a degree earned in an online program and one earned in an on-campus setting.  

At DeVry and our Keller Graduate School of Management, we offer the flexibility of earning your degree either 100% online or through our hybrid model, allowing you to take select courses at one of our many campus locations.1 No matter how you decide to pursue your education, you’ll have the benefit of learning from our knowledgeable and experienced faculty, gain hands-on experience with current industry technology and have a chance to develop interpersonal communication and collaboration skills with your peers.

Careers You Can Pursue with a Bachelor’s Degree

At DeVry, our online and hybrid bachelor’s degree programs are designed to help you prepare to pursue careers in business, healthcare, information systems security and other exciting fields in today’s fast-paced, challenging and global economy:

  • Business: Helping you to build a solid foundation in the fundamentals of business, our Bachelor’s Degree in Business can be customized for concentration in specific areas of business administration like accounting, human resource management, project management, marketing and more.  

  • Computer Information Systems: For those who want to transform their love of technology into a career, the hands-on learning opportunities in our Bachelor’s in Computer Information Systems explore topics like information security, database management and web application development.

  • Healthcare Administration: If a career in healthcare interests you, our Bachelor’s Degree in Healthcare Administration can help you prepare to pursue work in a variety of roles and settings in the broad and complex healthcare field, such as insurance, managed care, healthcare policy and information systems.

  • Accounting: Build a strong foundation in accounting and economics when you pursue our online Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting. Our experienced professors guide you through a curriculum that is intended to help you build skills that can be applied to finance, management, operations, forensic accounting or other similar industries.

  • Finance: Designed to help you acquire the skills needed to navigate today’s global economy, our Bachelor’s Degree with a Specialization in Finance explores problem solving, business administration, statistics and other elements of modern business management. Faculty with hands-on, real-world experience help you apply skills and concepts to the challenges faced by today’s business organizations.

  • Cyber Security: Mixing elements of information technology with software information systems, our Bachelor’s Degree Specialization in Cyber Security can help you acquire the skills to keep sensitive data safe from cybercriminals. Discover what it takes to defend networks, applications and systems against hackers’ most aggressive tactics, and to devise the security and contingency plans that help enterprises protect themselves. 

  • Sales and Marketing: Our Bachelor’s Degree with a Specialization in Sales and Marketing covers skills and concepts that marketers and sales professionals must develop in today’s competitive and fast-paced economy. If you want to work in the consumer-facing side of modern business, develop more effective ways to reach and persuade consumers, measure their interests and track their behavior, our Sales and Marketing Specialization will help you expand your skill set and prepare to pursue a broad variety of roles in business.

  • Criminal Justice: If you’re interested in a career path that involves the study of the principles and practices of law enforcement, our Bachelor’s in Technical Management with a Specialization in Criminal Justice can help you take the first steps as you explore criminology, theory and practice of corrections, juvenile justice and criminal law and procedure.

Bachelor's Degree FAQs

We think so! The time and money spent earning your degree can be a wise investment in your future. Having a bachelor's degree on your resume might allow you to consider a wider range of job opportunities, since certain opportunities require at least this level of education.

Different people might have different opinions on whether or not earning a bachelor's degree is challenging or not. The experience of earning a bachelor's degree depends on a variety of factors, but students who study regularly and put themselves in a position to succeed often find earning a bachelor's degree to be very manageable.

Beyond your study habits, picking a major that genuinely interests you can help make a bachelor's degree program more enjoyable.

The cost of a bachelor's degree can vary based on the program and school you choose. Ask if you may qualify for scholarships or financial aid that can help you manage your tuition costs. You may also be able to reduce the number of courses needed by applying any qualifying transfer credits you’ve earned at previous institutions. For more information on the cost of a bachelor's degree at DeVry, visit our Tuition Assistance and Financial Aid page.

You can absolutely earn a bachelor's degree online. At DeVry, we've offered online education options for more than 20 years and provide you with all the resources you need to complete your bachelor's degree program. If you want to know more about what a bachelor's degree is and get a better sense of the benefits they provide, take some time to explore our online bachelor's degree programs.

How long it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree depends on several factors. Depending on the program you choose, any qualifying transfer credits you bring with you and whether you enroll full-time or part-time, it could take more or less time to earn your degree. Our Bachelor’s in Business Administration, for example, can be earned in as little as 2 years and 8 months.*

 *Accelerated schedule is per 12-month period, does not include breaks and assumes year-round, full-time enrollment. Normal schedule is per 12-month period, does not include breaks and assumes two semesters of full-time enrollment.

Our bachelor’s degree programs typically require a minimum of 120 credit hours. You may, however, have qualifying credits that could be applied, based on completion of qualified courses at another academic institution. Or you could gain credit for qualifying previous military training or professional certifications.

Broaden Your Career Opportunities with a DeVry Bachelor’s Degree

If you’re ready to earn a bachelor’s degree, we can help. At DeVry, we offer online bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration, Business Management, Accounting, Finance, Healthcare, Information Technology and more to help you prepare to pursue advancement in your current career or start a new one.

With resources like 24/7 support and web-based study tools, online learning at DeVry helps you experience the same high-quality education as students taking in-person classes and balance your commitment to education with work, family and other elements of your busy life.

Classes start soon. Let’s talk about how you can get started in our next session!

1Program, course and extended classroom availability vary by location. In site-based programs, students will be required to take a substantial amount of coursework online to complete their program.

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