College Degree Levels (2023)

By DeVry University

October 12, 2021
6 min read

If you've considered furthering your education, you've likely spent some time thinking about the different college degree levels available to you. Choosing which type of college degree you wish to pursue can be an important early step in your education.

In order to make an informed decision regarding the level of degree you wish to earn, you first need to understand the differences between various degrees. In this article, we'll list the major college degree levels in order and provide you with an explanation of what each degree might be like. You'll be able to explore all this information and more as we cover the following topics:

  • Types of College Degree Levels in Order
  • Differences between the Levels of College Degrees
  • Which Degree Should I Pursue First?

Types of College Degree Levels in Order

When people discuss college degree levels, they are typically referring to an associate degree, bachelor's degree, master's degree or a doctorate. In many cases, these degrees can build on each other. For instance, you may need to have a bachelor's degree in order to pursue a master's degree, and you may need a master’s degree to pursue a doctorate. On the flip side, however, you don’t necessarily need to pursue an associate degree before pursuing a bachelor’s.

To get into the different degree levels in a bit more detail, here are some brief explanations of associate, bachelor's and master's degrees.

(Video) Different Types Of Degrees Explained: (Associates, Bachelors, Masters, Doctorate, and Professional)

Associate Degree

An associate degree is the first degree level offered in higher education. These undergraduate degrees, like bachelor’s degrees, are open to people just beginning their college careers and are generally geared toward helping students lay down foundation skills and knowledge to help prepare them for entry-level employment or further education.

Typically, an associate degree takes around two years to complete, though depending on the school and the program, you may be able to finish the degree program faster with transfer credits or take a more intensive course load. At DeVry, many of our associate-level degrees can be earnedin as little as 1 year and 4 months*—or even more quickly with qualifying transfer credits.

In many cases, an associate degree can serve as a building block for future education. At DeVry, we offer stackable degree options that can allow you to put qualifying credits earned during one of our associate degree program toward a higher degree level such as a bachelor's, should you choose to continue your education with us1.

We offer several different associate degree programs in areas such as technology, business and healthcare.

Bachelor's Degree

A bachelor's degree, typically a four-year degree, is an undergraduate credential that focuses on a specific area of study in order to help students develop an understanding and working knowledge of a subject. Bachelor's degrees are the highest level of undergraduate degree, and any education pursued after earning a bachelor's degree is considered graduate education.

Most bachelor’s degree programs are designed to take around four years to complete, though some students may finish the program faster or slower. Like an associate degree, how quickly you can earn a bachelor's degree depends on the number of incoming qualifying transfer credits you have, the area of study, breaks you might take and the intensity of your course load. At DeVry, you can earn many of our bachelor's degree in as little as 2 years and 8 months*— or even more quickly with qualifying transfer credits.

(Video) college degree levels

A bachelor's degree can represent an important milestone in your academic journey. As the highest level of undergraduate degree, it may be able to help you prepare for graduate level courses and degree programs. A bachelor’s degree may also help prepare you to pursue a career in a field that interests you. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many employers list a bachelor's degree as a requirement for employment2.

At DeVry, our bachelor's degree programs cover several areas of study, including business, technology, accounting, healthcare, liberal arts and media arts. Our bachelor's degree offerings also encompass the widest range of topics of any degree level we offer.

Master's Degree

A master's degree is the first level in what are considered graduate (also called post-graduate) degrees. As such, a master's program can differ greatly from undergraduate degree programs. In an undergraduate program, coursework tends to be much more structured, and feature a lot of in-class or online learning. While a master's degree may also follow this kind of structure, some can be more research-based depending on the school and the program. A research master's degree can require a significant amount of independent work from the student and can feature less in-class time. At DeVry, our master's degrees follow the more structured format, which you may see referred to as a taught master's degree.

Earning a master's degree typically takes around two years, though this amount of time can be influenced by incoming transfer credits and the intensity of your course load. Assuming a full-time schedule, no breaks and an average course load, earning your bachelor’s and a master’s degree can take roughly six years from start to finish.

At DeVry, we offer master's degree programs in topics such as technology, business, accounting and healthcare.

Differences Between the Levels of College Degrees

The primary differences between college degree levels are the amount of time it can take to earn each and the depth of the coursework. An associate degree, for example, may cover topics in less detail or intensity than a bachelor's or master's degree program would.

In addition to these differences, each of the college degree levels can help students prepare to work toward different opportunities. Both associate degrees and bachelor's degrees can prepare you for more entry-level positions in your area of study, while a master's degree may help prepare you for a higher-level or more specialized position. However, there are certain fields where a master's degree may be required for even some entry-level positions2.

(Video) Different Types of Study Levels Education System | Bachelors Masters PHD

Still, hiring requirements can vary from employer to employer, so it may help to remember that even because you may not meet the minimum requirements for a specific job at one employer does not necessarily mean that you will not meet the position requirements for another.

Which Degree Should I Pursue First?

What degree you pursue depends on you and your career or personal goals. That being said, many people choose to work through college degree levels in order, though as previously mentioned an associate degree may be passed over if you choose to pursue a bachelor's degree program from the start. A bachelor's degree can often be a prerequisite for a master's degree program, should you choose to pursue one.

Choosing whether to earn a bachelor's degree or an associate degree first should come down to your personal goals and circumstances. An associate degree can take less time to complete, and may be a useful way to add a of credential to your resume in a shorter amount of time. At DeVry, degree programs are often stackable, meaning that you can leverage the credits earned during a lower-level program the program toward a higher-level degree at DeVry in the same subject1. We also offer what we call embedded credentials, meaning should you choose to start with a bachelor's degree at DeVry, in many cases you will earn an associate degree during the course of the program, and be able to include that credential on your resume while you continue to earn your bachelor’s.

Ready to Learn More?

If you're looking into pursuing a degree, DeVry can help. Explore our various degree programs and find out which of our programs and degree levels is right for you!

(Video) College Degree Levels

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(Video) How to Choose a Major | Crash Course | How to College


How do you answer a degree level? ›

7 tips for discussing your education
  1. Be specific. ...
  2. Call out specific courses that relate to the position. ...
  3. Mention any additional training. ...
  4. Always be honest. ...
  5. Talk about your future education goals. ...
  6. Let the positives outweigh the negatives. ...
  7. Be proud of what you've accomplished.

What are the levels of college degrees? ›

There are generally four categories of college degrees: associate degree, bachelor's degree, graduate degree, and doctorate or professional degree.

Is a college degree enough? ›

More career opportunities

A bachelor's degree has become a minimum education requirement for many jobs, especially for knowledge workers—or those whose job requires more thinking than manual labor or service labor [1]. As of 2020, 35 percent of jobs require a bachelor's degree [2].

How do you answer the highest level of education in college? ›

A level is not achieved until you graduate. You are still a high school graduate. You academic level is judged by the last certificate you earned. So if you are an undergraduate then your highest Educational level is that last certificate with which you gained entry into the University.

What should I write in degree level? ›

Academic degrees are capitalized only when the full name of the degree is used, such as Bachelor of Arts or Master of Social Work. General references, such as bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree, are not capitalized. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in 2008. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication in 2008.

What does degree level mean? ›

Degree level means enrollment in a course or program.

What is the most common degree level? ›

The most popular college majors in the United States are business, health, and social sciences, according to data from the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES). Of the 2 million bachelor's degrees conferred in the US during the 2019-2020 school year, these three majors made up almost 40 percent.

What are the 5 levels of education? ›

Early childhood education is followed by primary school (called elementary school in the United States), middle school, secondary school (called high school in the United States), and then postsecondary (tertiary) education.

What is the lowest level college degree? ›

College Degrees in Order: Levels of Education
  • Associate Degree.
  • Bachelor's Degree.
  • Master's Degree.
  • Doctoral Degree.

Do employers care about A levels? ›

But it's not just your degree. Employers might also want to know about your other grades (A level or equivalent, for instance) and academic achievements (awards, notable research you've worked on, etc). A levels explained.

Does my degree really matter? ›

degree still matters. “A degree won't automatically make you an expert in your field or put you in a top position, but for sure it will get you noticed when you start and open doors that [wouldn't be open] if you didn't have a degree.

Does the college matter more than the degree? ›

Men with bachelor's degrees earn $900,000 more in a lifetime, while women with degrees earn $630,000 more, according to data from the Social Security Administration, which also highlights the gender pay gap. So, in the end, it might not necessarily matter where a person went to college. It's the fact that they did.

What do I put for degree on a job application if still in college? ›

If your education is still in progress, it is much simpler to list on your resume than it may seem. It's enough to list the degree program(s) you're taking part in, the name of the school and its location, and your expected graduation date.

How do you answer a university level question? ›

Here are seven ways you can ease the pressure in an exam.
  1. 1) Find out what you have to do. ...
  2. 2) Read the questions thoroughly. ...
  3. 3) Decide on your timings. ...
  4. 4) Plan your answer. ...
  5. 5) Make sure it's relevant. ...
  6. 6) Mention your sources. ...
  7. 7) Leave some space. ...
  8. Good luck.

How do you describe your degree? ›

Degree - This is the academic degree you are receiving. Your major is in addition to the degree; it can be added to the phrase or written separately. Include the full name of your degree, major(s), minor(s), emphases, and certificates on your resume.

What is the level of bachelor's degree? ›

Bachelor's degree – Level 6

A Bachelor's, or Honours, degree is the most common type of undergraduate degree. It's what most employers mean when they're looking for an 'undergraduate' or 'first' degree on a job posting.

What is the level of first degree? ›

An undergraduate degree (also called first degree or simply degree) is a colloquial term for an academic degree earned by a person who has completed undergraduate courses. In the United States, it is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a college or university.

What is the most useful bachelor degree? ›

This list details some of the most popular and lucrative college majors in demand.
  1. Engineering. Engineering professionals use principles of physics and mathematics to design buildings, vehicles, electronics, and other structures. ...
  2. Business. ...
  3. Nursing. ...
  4. Hospitality. ...
  5. Education. ...
  6. Computer Science. ...
  7. Architecture. ...
  8. Pharmaceutical Sciences.

What is the most accepted major? ›

The Most Popular College Majors
RankMajorNumber of Degrees Awarded
Rank 1Major Business and ManagementNumber of Degrees Awarded 289,384
Rank 2Major NursingNumber of Degrees Awarded 141,632
Rank 3Major PsychologyNumber of Degrees Awarded 127,066
Rank 4Major BiologyNumber of Degrees Awarded 120,375
40 more rows
Jun 18, 2019

What is the hardest major? ›

Top 15 Hardest College Majors Table of Contents
  • Chemistry.
  • Environmental Economics and Policy.
  • Environmental Earth Science.
  • American Studies.
  • Nuclear Engineering.
  • Energy Engineering.
  • Astrophysics.
  • Applied Mathematics.

What are the 7 levels of education? ›

Education Statistics (EdStats)
  • ISCED 0 = Early childhood education.
  • ISCED 1 = Primary Education.
  • ISCED 2 = Lower Secondary Education.
  • ISCED 3 = Upper Secondary Education.
  • ISCED 4 = Post-secondary non-Tertiary Education.
  • ISCED 5 = Short-cycle tertiary education.
  • ISCED 6 = Bachelors degree or equivalent tertiary education level.

How do you categorize education levels? ›

Category system
  1. Master's degree.
  2. Bachelor's degree.
  3. Associate's degree.
  4. Postsecondary nondegree award.
  5. Some college, no degree.
  6. High school diploma or equivalent.
  7. No formal educational credential.
Sep 8, 2022

What are the 7 levels of learning? ›

Bloom's Revised Taxonomy
  • Remember. Definition: retrieve, recall, or recognize relevant knowledge from long-term memory (e.g., recall dates of important events in U.S. history, remember the components of a bacterial cell). ...
  • Understand. ...
  • Apply. ...
  • Analyze. ...
  • Evaluate. ...
  • Create.
Apr 14, 2022

What is the least useful degree? ›

14 Most Useless College Degrees Employers Don't Want Today
  • Creative writing. Pursuing a creative degree may not make you much money after college, and that's particularly true of creative writing. ...
  • Communications. ...
  • Fashion design. ...
  • Hospitality. ...
  • Education. ...
  • Computer science. ...
  • Culinary arts. ...
  • Music.
Oct 4, 2022

What is the lowest GPA a college has accepted? ›

Unofficially, 2.0 is the lowest GPA accepted into a standard college, so while there's a chance that college admission is possible, it's not likely at more than a few institutions.

What is a normal 4 year college degree called? ›

Types of Bachelor Degrees

Designed to be completed in 4 years, bachelor's degree programs provide in-depth knowledge and skills across a wide variety of career paths to help you stand out in today's competitive job market. Bachelor's degrees are in high demand.

What degrees do employers look for? ›

Fully 50% of employers say that they are looking for graduates from Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees. 17% want students with Business degrees. Only 2% want linguists, 2% social scientists, and 1% arts students.

Do employers really care about your college grades? ›

Whether you enter the job market or enroll in a graduate program after college, GPA matters. A good GPA can be a selling point to employers, demonstrating a strong work ethic.

Do US universities care about A levels? ›

US universities do accept A Levels. In fact, A Levels are often a key factor for many universities in the United States when it comes to admitting students from the UK. However, many US universities do not require UK students to have completed A Levels. Each college in the United States has its own entry requirements.

Do employers care if your degree is online? ›

Online colleges are becoming more popular, but prospective students may still worry about their credibility. We're here to set the record straight: An online degree holds just as much weight as a traditional degree. In fact, data shows that most employers don't even differentiate between the two types of degrees.

Does life get easier after college? ›

Yes, college is the transitionary time between your K-12 schooling and your exit from an academic setting for the first time in your life. You have more freedom than you've ever had before, and more responsibility, without (many of the) bills and work schedules and other consequences of being a full-time adult.

What are easy majors that pay well? ›

8 Easy Degrees That Pay Well
  • Business Administration. Business administration is one major that is usually considered “easy.” Some programs will also only take 3 years to finish! ...
  • English. ...
  • Human Resources. ...
  • Criminal Justice. ...
  • Marketing. ...
  • Supply Chain Management. ...
  • Psychology. ...
  • Communication.
Dec 22, 2022

Are all college majors equally essential? ›

"We've known for a while that all degrees are not created equal, that your major has a large effect on your ability to get a job and work your way up a career ladder," said Anthony Carnevale, the center director and lead author of the report, in a statement.

Can you live comfortably without a college degree? ›

It's likely because they have experienced the benefits personally. Yes, it's possible to succeed without a college degree. But with so many programs designed to take you from having no experience in a field to being highly-skilled and job-market ready, having a college degree offers a clear advantage.

How do you list an unfinished college degree on a resume? ›

When listing your incomplete degree on your resume, remember to:
  1. Mention your degree program, school name, and expected graduation date, if your education is still ongoing.
  2. If you're not going to finish your education, find a way to make your incomplete degree work in your favor and present yourself in the best light.

Should I put unfinished degree on resume? ›

You can still include your degree on your resume if you haven't graduated yet — in fact, if you're applying for jobs in a related field, you definitely should. You should put your education section at the top of your resume, since that's likely to be your most relevant experience, and list an expected graduation date.

How do I explain why I didn't finish college? ›

Make your reason short and honest. For example, “I never went back to finish my degree and that's something I regret. I'm planning to re-enroll in a few online classes to finish it over time.” There—you've addressed it and there's not much more an employer can ask.

How do you answer a question you don't know the answer to in an exam? ›

Make a vague plan and identify the gaps in your knowledge; try to fill these gaps by extending the stuff you do know to make some really great points. Come up with an argument/thesis for your response (this will really help your marks). Try and refer to what you remember of the mark scheme for a really good answer.

How to write answers in university exam? ›

If you have to write a long answer or an essay, try to have an introduction, main points and a conclusion. A strong conclusion will attract the one who corrects your answer sheet. Time Management – Time management plays a key role in any exam, so you must know how to manage your time properly in the examination hall.

How do you explain a Bachelor's degree? ›

A bachelor's degree is an undergraduate degree in which you study a subject of your choice at an academic institution, and is commonly known as a college degree. Getting a bachelor's degree can enhance your access to job opportunities, expose you to new ideas, and boost your earning potential.

How would you describe your Bachelor's degree? ›

It's advisable to put the full name of your degree on a resume, but if you're economizing on space, you can use an abbreviation instead. Bachelors degrees on a resume are commonly abbreviated to: BA (Bachelor of Arts) BS (Bachelor of Science)

How do you say I graduated with a degree? ›

"I graduated from college" is the most accepted use of graduate in this context. You can also say "I graduated college" or "I was graduated from college." Both are frequently used, but to some people they are considered incorrect.

Is a degree level 4 or 5? ›

Levels are learning stages which guide you through our career pathways maps. Our Higher Education programmes typically run from Level 4 (Higher National Certificates and Higher Apprenticeships) through Level 5 (Higher National Diplomas and Foundation Degrees) to Level 6 (Bachelor or Arts or Science Honours Degrees).

What level number is a degree? ›

Level 6. Level 6 qualifications are: degree apprenticeship. degree with honours - for example bachelor of the arts ( BA ) hons, bachelor of science ( BSc ) hons.

Is a Bachelor's degree an A level? ›

Bachelor's degree – Level 6

A Bachelor's, or Honours, degree is the most common type of undergraduate degree. It's what most employers mean when they're looking for an 'undergraduate' or 'first' degree on a job posting.

What does Level 1 2 3 mean in college? ›

Level 1 – Basic or Foundation Level. Level 2 – equivalent to GCSEs or First Diploma Level. Level 3 – equivalent to A levels or Extended Diploma Level. Level 4 – equivalent to a Foundation Degree or Higher National Diploma.

What does college level 5 mean? ›

A foundation degree (FdA), different from a foundation year or a foundation diploma, is a level 5 qualification that has an emphasis on practical-based learning. They're equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor's degree and usually involve a mix of academic study and workplace experience.

Is a level 7 degree good? ›

Regarding recognition a level 7 qualification is highly regarded and can lead to many employment opportunities and options for further study. However for some professions the level 8 honours degree will be required.

What are the 4 levels of education? ›

Early childhood education is followed by primary school (called elementary school in the United States), middle school, secondary school (called high school in the United States), and then postsecondary (tertiary) education.

What grade level is a bachelor's degree? ›

Universities offer grades 14 to 16 with a Bachelor Degree. Master University degrees would then be grades 17 to 18. Doctorate degrees offer 19-21st grade.

What is 1 degree called? ›

A degree (in full, a degree of arc, arc degree, or arcdegree), usually denoted by ° (the degree symbol), is a measurement of a plane angle in which one full rotation is 360 degrees. Degree. General information.

What is a level equivalent to in us? ›

For those considering US universities, the American equivalent for A Levels are the AP examinations.

What are 4 years of college called? ›

Types of Bachelor Degrees

Designed to be completed in 4 years, bachelor's degree programs provide in-depth knowledge and skills across a wide variety of career paths to help you stand out in today's competitive job market. Bachelor's degrees are in high demand.

What is the academic title for bachelor degree? ›

Bachelor of Science / B.S.


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