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What is the difference between an Associate's degree Bachelor's degree Master's degree and Doctorate?

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Associate's degree will take you about two years. The Bachelor's will take you 4-5 years. The Doctorate will take you the 4 years in the bachelor then 2 in master's and it could depend in your career choice or choices 2-3 years more for a Doctorate. But the difference is not only the time that you spend earning the degree ; actually your wage might (usually does) differ having one or another. Having an associate degree will pay fair; but having a doctorate in the same major or another will pay way much more.
In order of increasing prestige, difficulty in obtaining, and income to the holder, the degrees are:
  • Associate's
  • Bachelor's
  • Master's, and
  • Doctorate

The Associate's Degree is not required for any of the higher degrees. Holding a Bachelor's Degree is usually among the minimum requirements for starting the course of study leading to a Master's Degree or a Doctorate. The Bachelor's Degree is the undergraduate degree, while both the Master's degree and the Doctorate are graduate, or post-graduate, degrees.
An Associate's Degree is an academic degree awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, degree-granting institutions upon completion of a course of study usually lasting two years. This degree is a 20th century development.
An Associate's Degree is not required for any further educational program but for some it can be helpful. For students whose high school academic record made admission to an 4-year college difficult or impossible, obtaining an Associate's degree can be a way of demonstrating an ability to perform university-level work. In this way, an Associate's Degree can facilitate transfer to a Bachelor's Degree program. Some Associate's Degree programs are vocational in nature, providing post-high school training for those who will be engaged in jobs such as welding, auto mechanics, etc. Since they are often based in Junior Colleges or Community Colleges, an Associate's degree can be a less costly way of completing the first two years of a 4-year Bachelor's Degree program, when persued in conjunction with a transfer to a 4-year college of University.
There are a wide variety of specific Associate's degrees. The most common are the AA (Associate of Arts) and the AS (Associate of Science).
A Bachelor's degree is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for a course or major that generally lasts for three, four, or five years, depending on the program of study and the part of the world where the course is given. The most common Bachelor's degrees are the BA (Bachelor of Arts) and the BS or BSc (Bachelor of Science). Some schools title these degrees in Latin, where the word order results in the degrees being called AB and SB, respectively.
Some Bachelor's Degrees are professional degrees, fitting the recipient to begin a professional practice. These include BEng (Bachelor of Engineering and BASc (Bachelor of Applied Science), among others. In the late 19th century Bachelor's Degrees were awarded as professional degrees upon completion of Medical School (Bachelor of Medicine or MB) and Law School (Bachelor of Law or LLB)
A Master's Degree is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone a course of study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. Within the area studied, graduates possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation and professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.
Most Master's Degree programs require two years of study, but some are designed for one year of study. Most also require the completion of comprehensive examination and some the completion of a research paper, which will be reviewed by a Faculty committee. Master's Degree programs require that the student first obtain a Bachelor's Degree in a relevant subject area.
The two most common types of master's degrees are the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.). Some universities use the Latin names, where, because of the flexibility of word order in Latin, the Master of Arts and Master of Science may be known as (AM) artium magister and (SM) scientiarum magister, respectively.
Numerous other Master's Degrees have been developed, including the widely known MBA (Master of Business Administration).
A Doctoral Degree or Doctorate is an academic degree that in most countries represents the highest level of formal study or research in a given field. The best-known example of this is the Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy). In some countries a Doctorate also refers to a class of degrees which qualify the holder to practice in a specific profession (such as law or medicine). Examples of this include the U.S. degree of Doctor of Medicine (MD) and the Dutch Professional Doctorate in Engineering.
Some courses of study leading to the PhD require first obtaining a Master's Degree in an appropriate field. For other subject areas, it is usual to enter the Doctoral Program directly after receipt of a Bachelor's Degree in an appropriate field.
The term doctorate comes from the Latin docere, meaning "to teach", shortened from the full Latin title licentia docendi, meaning "license to teach ." The PhD Degree is designed to train recipients to teach their subject at the university level and to perform academic research. Therefore, in addition to one or two years of course work, the PhD involves one or more years of research work culminating in the writing of a Thesis that summarises the research and lays out original conclusions resulting form it.
In addition to the PhD, there are a number of other Doctoral degrees. These include the MD, which does not require original research but does require an apprenticeship of sorts as an Intern before the recipient is fitted to practice Medicine. The Doctor of Science degree (DSc) places less emphasis on original research and is intended for those who will practice a scientific profession. There is also the LLD (Doctor of Laws) or JD awarded to attorneys, which is based only on course attendance and performance on examinations.

The Bachelor's of Arts degree (BA) has a broader scope, with a strong emphasis on the humanities, theoretical and general knowledge in a recognized discipline, interdisciplinary field, or of a professional study.

The Bachelor of Science degree (BS) is more of a focused approach with a science base to include a balance of liberal arts, technological knowledge, math and computer oriented skills, and practical skills needed for a particular discipline within the field.

It stands for Associate of Arts (AA).
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