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What is a Bachelor's Degree?

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A bachelor's degree ensures first-round draft status in the world of work. The critical thinking skills job applicants acquire while pursuing a bachelor's degree make them excellent candidates for starting positions that can eventually lead to upper management.

What Is a Bachelor's Degree?

It takes about four years to earn a bachelor's degree. The degree requires 120 semester hours of study. Each semester lasts about four months. Some schools use the quarterly system instead. Schools that use the quarterly system require 180 units to graduate.

What Is the Difference Between a BS and a BA?

The BS degree, or Bachelor of Science, did not exist until its introduction in the 1958 charter of the University of London. Before then, all undergraduates received a Bachelor of Arts, or BA, degree. A Bachelor of Arts degree focuses on theoretical learning in the arts and humanities, while the Bachelor of Science degree teaches students to apply their knowledge in a specific field. Students pursuing Bachelor of Arts degrees focus on courses in the fine and performing arts such as music, painting or theater, as well as humanities courses such as history, philosophy, and sociology. BS degree recipients often focus their study on physical science, technology and higher mathematics.

Tip

Consult with members of various professions to discover which degree will provide you the greatest opportunity for advancement in your chosen field.

Why Get a Bachelor's Degree?

Medical and law schools will not accept applicants that do not already hold at least one bachelor's degree. Most C-level management positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree unless applicants have spent five or more years in their field. Registered nurses also need a bachelor's degree before they can serve as nurse educators or department heads. The additional two years they spend in leadership, management and administration training lead to lower patient mortality.

Fourteen professions project a need for 50,000 workers or more between 2016 and 2026. All 14 require a bachelor's degree at entry level. Close to a fifth of those jobs will go to teachers. Teachers must have at least a bachelor's degree for initial certification to teach pre-K through 12th grade or to continue to a master's degree or above.

Tip

Talk with guidance counselors at every stage of the degree process to ensure timely progress toward a degree.

How to Get a Bachelor's Degree

The quickest and easiest way to get a bachelor's degree from a college or university requires academic discipline. Students who pay attention in class, complete assignments on time and use good time management and study skills can take advantage of concurrent or post-secondary college enrollment. Concurrent enrollment allows students to take some college courses at their high schools. Post-secondary enrollment allows students to receive high school credits for attending classes at a college campus. Both options save time and money. Students can save even more time and money by taking advantage of credit by examination. College-level Exam Placement tests allow students to skip introductory courses. Many professors will also allow students to skip a prerequisite course if they can demonstrate mastery of the subject matter.

After taking as many CLEP tests and concurrent courses as possible, students enroll in their chosen programs. Graduation can happen in as little as two to three years as long as the student scores a C or higher in every course.

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About the Author

Smith has been a student, independent contractor, entrepreneur, car salesperson, beauty consultant, and a water treatment salesperson. All of those career changes had their benefits and drawbacks. Smith believes in experiential learning as key to success in the work world, so don't be afraid to try something new that does not match your official qualifications. Smith urges business owners and job seekers alike to dig deep and discover what motivates you to give your best.