What Is a Bachelor’s Degree? Definition, Requirements & Job Opportunities

in Research   Posted on July 12, 2021  Author: Imed Bouchrika,

For a long time, a bachelor’s degree has been set as one of the requirements for most occupations. Given the way it guarantees safe professional prospects for graduating students, this degree is recognized as the cornerstone of higher education (Degree Query, n.d.). These explain why the talk about its merit never seems to go away. Yet, many students still ask, “What is a bachelor’s degree?” This implies that they have a hard time figuring out what to do with a college education, with others even switching majors.

Pursuing a bachelor’s degree is a serious life decision. As such, it can take much of your time, energy, and money. This is why it is important that you understand what this degree means and where college will take you after. Whether you are an incoming freshman or a returning one, this article has summed up everything you need to know about an undergraduate degree—its definition, various types, admission requirements, and more.

what is a bachelor's degree

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

  1. What is a bachelor’s degree?
  2. What are the different types of bachelor’s degree?
  3. Admission Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree
  4. Bachelor’s Degree Cost
  5. What are the most in-demand bachelor’s degree majors?
  6. Bachelor’s Degree Jobs

What is a bachelor’s degree?

The bachelor’s degree definition refers to a typical postsecondary education that provides students with a broad selection of scholastic, professional, and civic opportunities. In this four-year degree program, students learn about a certain subject like biology, math, or marketing. It prepares students to be skillful and knowledgeable enough for their future careers. Most students take this degree right after graduating from high school, while others take an associate degree first before taking it.

A bachelor’s degree can make graduates eligible for highly sought-after occupations. Graduates who earned this degree can also continue their education by taking graduate study (The Best Schools, 2021).

Source: Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce

Are bachelor’s degrees attainable?

There is no such thing as an easy college degree. Whatever degree you choose to take in college, you have to work hard to finish it (Milliman, 2021).

Many students who have the right and enough resources graduate as bachelor’s degree holders, a clear sign that earning this degree is definitely attainable.

bachelor's degree seekers graduation rate

Is it worth the time to take a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree is truly a worthwhile investment as it is still the most reliable way to enhance your job prospects and salary potential. It also makes you a standout candidate during job applications. As a matter of fact, employers prefer degree holders to fill entry-level roles. In the 2020 unemployment rate survey of the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, results show that the unemployment rate for bachelor’s degree holders is only 2.7%, which is remarkably less than the 5.2% for high school graduates. At the same time, many graduates with this degree can increase their average weekly income from $692 after high school to $1,156 after graduating from college (Bachelor’s Degree Center, n.d.).

Moreover, a bachelor’s degree can let you experience new things, learn from them, and live a better quality of life. According to College Board’s 2019 report on higher education trends, earning a bachelor’s degree is linked to a healthier and more socially active living. (Lesley University, n.d.).

What are the different types of bachelor’s degree?

Depending on interests and career goals, students can pick a bachelor of arts, a bachelor of science, or a bachelor of fine arts degree program. The bachelor’s degree list below outlines the most common types of bachelor’s degrees in college, as well as their main focus.

Bachelor of Arts (BA)

BA degrees are among the most famous bachelor’s degrees. These degrees center on the humanities, arts, and sciences and offer majors in business, literature, history, and more. They also mandate general education prerequisites in different subject areas like English and math.

The usual timeframe to complete a full-time BA degree is four years, but it may also vary by major.

Bachelor of Science (BS)

BS degrees are equally popular as BA ones. These degrees revolve around teaching students about science and technical skills, such as math, biology, and engineering. They are likely to require more courses equivalent to a taken major. Unlike a BA, a BS does not have that many general education courses. It may also cover more technical or lab skills courses, mostly for the hard sciences.

Bachelor of Applied Arts (BAA)

BAA degrees are usually offered in Canada and New Zealand, but they are also offered in the U.S. These degrees are more centered on vocational courses. For instance, students may take a BAA in studio arts or criminal justice. Graduates with these degrees normally work already after graduating.

Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)

BAS degrees are often extremely technical, traversing on courses, such as culinary leadership or renewable energy technology. These degrees are likely to offer focused, technical pedagogy.

A BAS also takes four years to complete.

Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

BFA degrees highlight artistic instruction, giving prominence to areas, such as graphic design, dance, and photography. These degrees teach the theories behind art forms, as well as the application of skills and techniques.

A BFA hones future artists and creative professionals. Graduates with these degrees can enter the show business, music, and dance industries. Others also opt to take advanced degrees to teach in postsecondary education.

Admission Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree

Admission requirements for a bachelor’s degree are often a high school diploma or equivalent and GPA. Applicants may also be requested to present standardized test scores and recommendation letters (The Best Schools, 2021). Depending on the specialization, some programs will ask for additional prerequisites.

Degree Prerequisites

Many bachelor’s degrees are composed of approximately 120 credits. Traditionally, students take general education classes and preparatory, major-related classes in the first year. Some students, however, only decide what major to take in their second or third year. Then, in their last two years, they specialize in sophisticated major courses.

Other bachelor’s degree requirements may involve taking internships or practicums and a top course or research project. Some also require a thesis.

Bachelor’s Degree Cost

The College Board notes that the average tuition for a bachelor’s degree student at public or private, nonprofit four-year institutes is at $12,710 for the 2019-2020 school year (GetEducated, n.d.). Still, the full cost of a bachelor’s degree depends on certain considerations, such as residence and learning style. For instance, many public schools offer discounted in-state tuition. Some schools also permit online students to pay in-state tuition (The Best Schools, 2021).

Loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study assistance programs help students lessen their degree expenses.

college is a worthy investment

What are the most in-demand bachelor’s degree majors?

When choosing a major, students weigh in on elements that would affect their future employment. These elements include job availability, financial earnings, and potential benefits. Some of the most in-demand bachelor’s degree majors today are Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing, Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering, Bachelor’s Degree in Medicine, Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, and Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology.

Source: NCES, 2019

Taking a Bachelor’s Degree Online

The popularity of taking a bachelor’s degree online is now on the rise. With this arrangement, students can learn at their own pace without compromising their personal lives and career goals.

In many cases, virtual learning is also cheaper than on-campus study. Aside from the in-state tuition that online students pay for, housing and commuting expenses also help them save a lot.

Bachelor’s Degree Jobs

SmartAsset’s latest study lists down the most desired jobs for college graduates. The study compares 131 occupations based on median salary change from 2018 to 2019, employment change from 2018 to 2019, and expected employment change from 2019 to 2029.

  1. Producers and directors. These jobs ranked in the top quartile of the study. Employment of producers and directors increased by nearly 9% between 2018 and 2019. The BLS also predicts that these jobs will continue to increase by 16,000 or 10.0% from 2019 to 2029.
  2. Computer and information systems managers (tie). These roles place in the top 15% of the study. Computer and information systems managerial jobs increased by 10.87% from 2018 to 2019, and the BLS predicts that they will increase by another 10.4% or 48,100.
  3. Agents and business managers of artists, performers, and athletes (tie). These jobs tie with computer and information systems managers. The median pay for artist, performer, and athlete agents and business managers increased by nearly 7%, while its employment increased by 15%.
  4. Information security analysts. The median salary for these jobs increases at a similar pace every year, but its employment had a significant growth rate, which is 16.20% according to the BLS.
  5. Actuaries. The median salary for actuaries increased by 4.06% between 2018 and 2019, the highest salary increase within a year in this study. Employment for these jobs is also predicted to increase by another 17.6%.
  6. Interpreters and translators. The BLS reports that interpreting and translation jobs are projected to grow by 20% between 2019 and 2029. Consequently, employment of these roles will increase by approximately 15,500 workers. Their median salaries also increased by 3.20% from 2018 to 2019.
  7. Fundraisers. Employment of fundraisers increased by 7.87% between 2018 and 2019. In the coming 10 years, total employment is projected to increase by 14,400 or 14.3%.
  8. Medical and health service managers. The median salary for medical and health service managers reached $113,730 and $115,160, respectively. Among the 131 occupations in the study, the BLS projects these roles to have a bigger total employment growth (133,200 workers) and the highest employment growth (31.5%) in the next 10 years.
  9. Athletic trainers. Athletic trainer jobs are predicted to increase by 16.2% between 2019 and 2029. These jobs may also have an increase in salary over time. The median salary for athletic trainers grew by 2.56% from approximately $49,300 to over $50,500.
  10. Compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists. The median salary for compensation, benefits, and job analysis specialists increased by 2.84% between 2018 and 2019. It had a 6.88% employment change from 2018 to 2019 and a 7.9% expected employment change from 2019 to 2029.

Bachelor’s degree jobs are usually more excluded from unemployment compared to others. These jobs may also be even more excluded from economic challenges as demand for them is always at a peak (Horan, 2021). The case on how COVID-19 has caused massive job loss and, surprisingly, extraordinary opportunities are reflected in the 2020 online article “The Covid-19 crisis as a career shock: Implications for careers and vocational behavior.” Penned by Joe Akkermans et al. and published in the Journal of Vocational Behavior, the article starts off by defining “career shock.” This term means an unmanageable and phenomenal event that is, at least to some extent, caused by circumstances outside the central individual’s control and that leads to a thorough thought process regarding one’s career.

The article notes that even if COVID-19 has been perceived as a major negative career shock today, it may also result in positive career shocks. “Indeed, there have been widespread reports about how some companies who might have been reluctant to allow employees to work from home are now discovering the added advantages, including the adoption of new forms of technology, to cater to more flexible work arrangements.” This occurrence may dispute some dismissive impressions on those who prefer to telecommute. “Another potentially positive outcome of COVID-19 relates to the necessity to upgrade skills and competencies—particularly with respect to the use of technology. For example, whereas the move to online learning technologies can be unsettling for some academics who are more accustomed to and comfortable with the non-online classroom, there have been growing reports about how academics have been upgrading their technological skills with the sudden demand to switch from in-class to online delivery and often in a matter of days’, if not weeks’ notice.”

Other sectors are also learning to cope with the pandemic. “Similarly, other workers whose organizations have moved to provide much-needed medical supplies are also developing new skill sets and finding new meaning in their work. The ‘silver lining’ of these trends may, therefore, be that some individuals who may have otherwise been reluctant to engage in proactive skill development and career behaviors have augmented both their short- and long-term career sustainability by effectively dealing with the current changes in work demands.”

The Real Value of a Bachelor’s Degree

While a bachelor’s degree has already been proven to exhibit one’s competence, skill sets, and drive for success, you may come across skeptical information about the real value of earning it. Some believe that industries are already swamped with degree holders, while others think that technology is currently making degrees not that essential anymore (Franklin University, n.d).

For sure, companies that employ undergraduates are now consistently increasing. However, there is more to a bachelor’s degree than just getting a job and high pay—it is the individual growth and life fulfillment that can help you become a better person and appreciate the world even more. Former American Association of American Universities president Dr. Hunter Rawlings III may have the best answer to the question “What is a bachelor’s degree?”: “Genuine education is not a commodity, it is the awakening of a human being.” (Premium Schools, n.d.).

 

References:

  1. Akkermans, J., Richardson, J., & Kraimer, M. (2020, May 8). The Covid-19 crisis as a career shock: Implications for careers and vocational behavior. Journal of Vocational Behavior.
  2. Bachelor’s Degree Center. (n.d.). Your Guide to Getting a Bachelor’s Degree. Bachelor’s Degree Center.
  3. Best Colleges Staff Writers. (2020, November 12). Your Guide to Choosing a Major. Best Colleges.
  4. Campus Explorer. (n.d.). Bachelor’s Degree Overview. Campus Explorer.
  5. Degree Query. (n.d.). What Can I Do With a Bachelors Degree? Degree Query.
  6. Franklin University. (n.d.). Is a Bachelor’s Degree Worth It? Sorting Fact From Fiction. Franklin University.
  7. GetEducated. (n.d.). What is a Bachelor’s Degree? GetEducated.
  8. Horan, S. (2021, January 6). Most In-Demand Jobs for Bachelor’s Degree Holders – 2021 Edition. SmartAsset.
  9. Lesley University. Five Tips for Completing Your Bachelor’s Degree. Lesley University.
  10. Milliman, H. (2021, February 6). The 14 Easiest Majors for YOur Bachelor’s Degree. PrepScholar.
  11. NCES. (2021, May). Undergraduate Degree Fields. NCES.
  12. Pop, A. (2021, May 19). 10 Best American Colleges for Undergraduate Studies in 2021. Bachelors Portal.
  13. Premium Schools. (n.d.). What is a Bachelor’s Degree? Premium Schools.
  14. TBS Staff. (2021, June 9). What is a Bachelor’s Degree? The Best Schools.
  15. Western Governors University. (2018, September 18). What is a bachelor’s university? Western Governors University.