BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD, MD, JD - What do all of these letters mean????
After high school, students in the United States can continue their education in order to obtain associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees. There are many different types of degrees offered at each level.
The average amount of time it takes to earn a degree is called "time to degree." It takes about two years to complete an associate's degree and four years for a bachelor's degree.
Associate's Degrees Most associate's degree programs are offered at vocational schools and community colleges, although some national universities have also started offering 2-year degrees. Students who are seeking general education at this level can earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.) in topics ranging from literature to computer programming.
Bachelor's Degrees Bachelor's degrees are offered at all 4-year colleges and universities. The two most common types of bachelor's degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.). Some fields offer specialized degrees, such as the Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.).
Graduate Degrees Because graduate education is a common way to gain advanced professional training in a very specific subject, the world of graduate degrees is even more complex than the world of undergraduate degrees. It can be loosely divided into three main areas: master's degrees, doctoral degrees and professional degrees.
Time to degree varies based on the type of program. It is typically the shortest for master's programs (one to two years of post-graduate study) and the longest for doctoral programs (five to seven years of post-graduate study).
Master's Degrees There are two main types of master's degrees: academic and professional. An academic master's program is likely to result in a Master of Arts (M.A.) or Master of Science (M.S.) degree. Many people earn an academic master's degree with the intention of continuing on to doctoral study.
There are almost as many professional master's degrees in the U.S. as there are professions. Many institutions invent a new degree name when they create a new program, resulting in a large and often confusing range of possibilities. Some of the more common professional master's degrees include the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Master of Education (M.Ed.).
Doctoral Degrees The most common type of doctoral degree is the academic Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). This is primarily oriented toward training for research, writing and teaching at an advanced level.
However, it is becoming more and more common for some fields to offer their own types of doctoral programs that combine advanced practical skills with the usual doctoral focus on research and pedagogy. Such programs include the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.).
Ph.D. degrees are commonly found at both public and private research universities.
Professional Degrees Although many graduate professional degrees are technically considered doctoral degrees, they are best understood as a separate category. Professional degrees can be found at law and medical schools throughout the country. The most popular types of professional degrees include:
Juris Doctorate (J.D.), a law degree
Medical Doctor (M.D.), a physician's degree
Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.), a dentistry degree
Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), a pharmaceutical medicine degree