Degree Programs – How Far Will You Go?

After secondary, or high school, there are numerous degree programs available, most of which have three levels. Prior to those however is one other that is awarded by two-year colleges and fulfills the basic lower-division (freshman-sophomore) requirements found at virtually all four-year institutions. This is the associates’ degree. Many students find it easier and less expensive to complete these requirements at a two-year community college. For those who want to enter the job market right away, many two-year community colleges offer certificate programs for such entry-level professions such as paralegal or medical assistant as well. These are roughly equivalent to (or may in fact be) associates’ degrees.

In order to advance to higher-paying fields however, additional training is required. For many jobs, employers require a bachelor degree, which is normally a four-year program. While some employers just want to see a degree itself (for example, in order to be a commissioned officer in the armed services, a bachelor degree or the equivalent is usually required, though this does not necessarily have to be in a specific field), most jobs require that the candidate has completed a specific course of study. The four-year degree can also be preparatory for a graduate degree, certification or profession. This might include degree programs such as pre-law or pre-med; those planning on a career in public education are usually required to have an additional year of training and coursework as well.

The most common graduate degree that most people go on to after the initial four-year one is the Master Degree. This is normally a one-year program, though many people take longer by doing coursework over the summer. Some jobs, such as public teaching or nursing, require that a person eventually get a master degree at some point in order to qualify for a higher pay scale or as part of continuing education requirements.

At the doctorate level, there are many different types of degree programs, and these can take varying lengths of time to complete. An MD (medicinae doctoris) or DDS (doctor of dental science) requires a minimum of four years of intensive study followed by an internship, a residency and specialty training; a psychiatrist is required to have medical training as well. Those who graduate from law school earn a JD (juris doctoris) or LLD (law letter doctorate) degree, while most academic areas lead to the doctorate degree known as the Ph.D, or Doctor of Philosophy. On unique doctorate title that has only been available recently is the DM, or doctoris musica degree. It is different from the Ph.D in music in that unlike most doctoral programs, there is no foreign language requirement.

Initially, you may not wish to pursue one of these advanced degree programs, but it is always a good idea to keep an open mind; many people change their minds later on – and it’s never too late to participate in one of these degree programs.