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What is after a master's degree?

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Typically, there are four levels of college degrees. They are as follows from lowest to highest.
  • Associates
  • Bachelors
  • Masters
  • Doctorate (highest level of academic attainment)

The associates and bachelors are referred to as undergraduate coursework. The master's and doctorate are referred to as graduate degrees. Refer to the below.

Associates Degree

The associate's degree is designed as a two year program of study as a full-time student provided the student takes the degree as prescribed by the college. There are some programs of study that may take a bit longer depending on the number of credits required. Usually these are programs within the health related fields. In addition, for students who require developmental course work as a result of basic skills testing, it would take longer. How much longer would depend on the extent of the developmental courses they are required to take. Evidently, those individuals who attend college on a part-time based would also extend their time in school. How much longer would depend on the credit load carried each semester. Typically, an associate's degree takes between 60 and 64 credits to complete depending on the specific school, program of study, and state mandates.

Bachelors Degree

A bachelor's degree in most areas can require between 124 to 128 college credits particular to a specific program of study. This would be based on a college or university that operates on a regular two semester academic year which is the most common. For institutions that operate on a tri-semester or quarter-semester it would be quite different. That being said, the Bachelor's degree - in most cases - is designed as a four year program of study, provided the student is full-time and follows their chosen program of study as prescribed by the college or university, and also provided the individual does not require prerequisite or developmental course work. The minimum credit load for a full-time student is no less than 12 credits per semester. However, to complete the degree within the four years, a credit load of approximately 15 to 18 credits is recommended. For individuals who work or who have other responsibilities that would prohibit them from attending full-time, completion of the degree may take twice as long. Still, some of this time can be cut down by attending summer sessions and/or interim sessions. In addition, the bachelors and associate degrees are referred to as undergraduate degrees with the Masters and Doctorate degrees referred to as graduate degrees.
The masters and doctorate degrees are referred to as graduate level coursework and typically particular to a specific field of study or profession.

Masters Degree

A master's degree can range from 30 to above 70 required credits depending on the specific program of study. The degree can take between two and three years to complete. The degree type covers most subjects and can be course based, research based, or a combination of both.

Doctorate Degree

The doctorate is considered the highest level of educational attainment and in most cases specific to one field of study. The degree typically requires a minimum of 60 credits plus a dissertation (which requires original research). The degree can take approximately four years to complete post bachelors degree.
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