What types of degrees can I get?

So you’ve decided on your ideal career. There’s still a lot to plan for. Colleges have different types of degrees and lots of paths to success. Your career may require a specialized degree. You should also make sure your degree comes from an accredited institution. You can check with the college you’re interested in to find out if it’s accredited by a government-recognized accreditation agency.

See below for descriptions of the most common degree types.

Apprenticeships are a great way to learn the skills required for a specific occupation. You will typically earn a wage for the work you do as an apprentice, and some even allow you to earn an associate degree simultaneously. Apprenticeships vary in length, but typically last between 2 and 5 years.
Workforce certificates can be earned by completing the requirements of an association for a particular trade, such as plumbing, security or certain types of computer technology. Often a certification takes only one year to complete if you go to school full time. A certificate is sometimes earned in conjunction with an apprenticeship.
Associate degrees typically take two years to complete if you go to school full time. An associate degree can provide entry to a wide variety of careers, ranging from business and biotechnology to education and engineering.

Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees are granted to students who complete two-year programs of study. Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees are awarded to students who complete two-year technical or vocational programs. These programs often require an apprenticeship.

Bachelor’s degrees generally take four years to complete if you go to school full time. B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) degrees are often found in the liberal arts. They generally require courses in humanities, math, English, sciences, social sciences and language. B.S. (Bachelor of Science) degrees prepare people for careers in areas such as accounting, engineering and education. Like the B.A., the B.S. degree requires general courses in math, English, sciences and social sciences, but usually fewer courses in the humanities.
Want to take your education beyond a four-year bachelor’s degree? Master’s degrees follow your bachelor’s degree and usually require two additional years of full-time study. For some fields such as business and law, a master’s degree is a professional degree, meaning most graduates immediately enter the workforce equipped with the necessary knowledge.
The time to earn a doctorate degree varies greatly by program and by the student’s motivation. Most doctorate students begin by taking classes, but end their studies by writing a dissertation or participating in a residency program. Many fields, such as history or English, require a dissertation — lengthy, original research that defends a student’s stance on the subject and usually takes two or more years to complete. A residency allows a student to practice their skills in a controlled setting. For example, residencies for medical doctors are three or more years and take place in a hospital.
Serve your country and take your education to the next level. Some programs allow you to enroll in a traditional college (with paid tuition!) while others take place at military-only institutions.

Don’t wait to start the college application process.

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Start earning college credits in high school.