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Undergraduate vs. Graduate Degrees: How to choose the right one for you

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Depending on your current situation, you can choose from an undergraduate or graduate degree. Planning and preparation are essential for any undertaking, including pursuing higher education.

The kind of higher education you complete is an essential factor that determines your professional success. The corporate world is highly competitive nowadays, and those who want to venture into the industry need to equip themselves with sufficient credentials. Whether you are a fresh college graduate or a young professional, you have the option of choosing between an undergraduate and graduate degree. Both have their pros and cons, which are going to be explored here to help you decide which one is right for you.

Undergraduate Degree
A commonly accepted definition of an undergraduate degree is a level of higher education that someone achieves after completing high school education. It is one of the basic requirements for getting a job, so completing it is essential for anyone who wishes to pursue their professional goals.

Associate Degree
The associate degree is the first level of higher education, which is typically a two-year program. It tackles general education subjects and some specific courses in disciplines related to the professional preferences or goals of the students. Finishing an associate degree can fast-track your job hunting success and can also reinforce your decision to pursue a four-year bachelor's degree. Community colleges and technical schools typically offer associate degrees, with Associate of Science, Associate of Applied Science, and Associate of Arts being the most common associate degrees offered.

Bachelor’s Degree
A bachelor’s degree is typically a four-year program and the second level of higher education. Students who choose to take bachelor’s degree education often have a clear idea of what their career and professional goals are. Four-year colleges and universities often offer bachelor’s degree programs. As mentioned on this website, these degrees are from accredited colleges and universities and are academically equivalent to bachelor’s degrees obtained from standard college or university education. Sites offering online bachelor’s degrees or links to colleges or universities with online education programs also recommend in-demand and lucrative courses. Online tourism & hospitality management degrees are examples of in-demand specializations due to the rising demand and steady growth of the tourism and hospitality industries. Of course, there are other in-demand courses and majors under the Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, and Bachelor of Applied Science degrees.

Graduate Degrees
Graduate study is the time spent by a student who wants to pursue a higher level of education after completing a bachelor’s degree. Those who like to improve their employment credentials, elevate their career achievements or improve their salaries have better chances of success by completing their graduate degrees.

Master’s Degree
A Master's degree is a career-specific and research-oriented level of graduate education after completing a bachelor’s degree. Students who finish their master’s degree can have advanced level qualifications when they enter the workforce. For those who achieve their master’s degree while also working, their enhanced qualifications and skills help improve their salaries and promotions. There is also the option of pursuing a doctoral degree for those who want to reach even greater heights of educational achievement. The most common master's degrees offered in universities and colleges are Master of Arts, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Business Administration.

Doctoral Degree
The doctoral degree is the apex of an individual's educational achievement. Having a doctoral degree means you are an expert in your chosen field. A Ph.D. is an academic doctoral degree that focuses on research in a specific area. Graduates who earn a doctoral degree usually take the researcher or professor career path.

Professional Degrees
A professional degree is a type of doctoral degree required for specific careers. A Doctor of Education is a prerequisite for educational leadership roles, a Doctor of Business Administration for business leadership and consultancy roles, a Juris Doctor for law practice, a Doctor of Medicine to be physician, and a Doctor of Pharmacy to be a pharmaceutical industry expert.
 
Length of Study
Typically, there is no significant difference in the length of time spent in undergraduate and graduate studies. Associate degrees can typically be obtained over two years, and a bachelor’s degree can be completed in four years. It can be six years in total if you have an associate degree before pursuing a bachelor’s. Master’s degrees typically take two years to complete but some programs can take only a year to complete depending on the college or university’s program structure. Academic doctoral degrees take four to six years to complete, but there are online programs with a shorter period for completion. Professional degrees take three to four years to complete. Medical field programs take a longer completion time due to residencies or internships.

Tuition Costs
There are several factors at play that can cause variations in the tuition costs of undergraduate and graduate studies. Some of them include in-state vs. out-of-state tuition, grants, scholarships, online classes, and public vs. private schools. For both types of higher education, it is essential to be financially prepared for the costs associated with the programs. Statistical data show that the average annual undergraduate fees range from $15,200 for public colleges to $32,200 for private colleges. Graduate fees are typically lower, which range from $11,000 for public colleges to $24,000 for private universities.

Prospective Job Earnings
A higher degree of education has a high correlation to the potential earnings one can get from a job. As mentioned earlier, markets or industries that have a high demand for certain skills, training, and specialties pay high salaries for qualified bachelor's or master’s degree holders. The more specialized your educational background and training are, the more work opportunities get opened for you and the higher the pay offers will be. Some employers value educational achievement and will pay a higher salary to those with higher levels of education completed.

(photo: https://bit.ly/3mCjRra).

Education is one of the vital factors that can determine your success in the professional field. Depending on your current situation, you can choose from an undergraduate or graduate degree. Planning and preparation are essential for any undertaking, including pursuing higher education. Prepare your financial resources and make wise decisions that will benefit you in the future after achieving that hard-earned degree.

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