Undergraduate Bachelor’s Degree
You can earn degrees by attending a classroom or in some cases, taking classes online. The requirements for each of these degrees are different, including required tests, application deadlines, and costs. Carefully review the requirements for each degree and plan well in advance – at least a year in advance before applying. The earlier you start, the better are your chances of gaining admission to a good program. The US also offers many outstanding certificate programs. These are short courses ranging from a few days to a few weeks and are well-suited for those who are employed, but want to enhance their skills.
A high school graduate can earn an Associate Degree or a Bachelor’s Degree. In the US, Bachelor’s degrees are four years long, although today some US institutions offer 3-year Bachelor’s degrees. You can earn either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. There are two ways to earn a bachelor’s degree:
- Earn an Associate degree (2 years) from a community college and then transfer to a 4-year college
- Attend a four-year college
You can earn an associate degree from a community college (a community college is a college that offers only Associate degrees). It is estimated that there are roughly 1,000 community colleges in the US. This degree usually takes two years to complete. For more detailed information about Associate degrees, click here.
After an associate degree, a student can either find a job or “transfer” into a four-year college and complete the remaining two years. A student will earn the same degree as a student attending a 4-year college or university. Community college is an excellent option to save money, get a good education, and still earn an undergraduate degree from a good university.
Students can pursue a wide variety of choices in terms of subjects or majors. You can even create your own degree program by “mixing and matching” different courses from different areas. Programs generally consist of three parts: general education, courses in your discipline (business, engineering, science, etc.,) and electives or courses that help a student to specialize in a specific area. Many US students work full-time or part-time while earning an undergraduate degree.
After high school, the first college degree that a student can earn is referred to as the Bachelor’s program or an undergraduate degree. Students’ are referred to as freshman, sophomore, junior and senior years for each of the four years, respectively. All students, regardless of their specialization or field of study, are required to take courses in “liberal arts” which includes English, philosophy, basic sciences, social sciences, writing, and arts following which they can specialize in their area of interest (also called majors), such as biology, business, media, engineering, and so on. Each college or university offers special majors that are often listed under Academics. For example, you can see the majors offered at the University of Washington by clicking here. You can also specialize in professional areas such as pharmacy, dentistry, medicine and other professional programs. This is often referred to as a pre-professional degree (it is the same as a Bachelor’s degree, except that you will be preparing to enter a professional career, such as becoming a pharmacist.) You can earn a B.A. degree (Bachelor of Arts) or B.S. degrees (Bachelor of Science degrees).
Deciding what to study or major in is not easy! The more choices there are, the more confusing it gets! One mistake international students make is to limit their choices to what their country offers. Some countries may have very few choices or majors. This is not true in the US where the number of choices are numerous!! The University of Minnesota has a great website that helps students who are confused or undecided to select a major. Click here for more information on “Choosing Your Major: Going from Undeclared to Prepared”
For a list of majors offered in the US, click here.