Affordable Online Degree by Levels

October 19th, 2010, Kelly Gibson

Are you now beginning your educational journey and not sure where to start? If you are looking for your first step towards a degree level or thinking about furthering your education, this article will guide you through the various academic degree levels that are available online and give you a brief overview of what entails in each level.

Online Certificates Overview

A Certificate is earned when you have gained a specific amount of knowledge, skills and training from an educational institution. A certificate certifies that you have studied a specific course or have passed a test specific to a field of study. Many students pursuing or already holding graduate degrees sometimes take certificate programs with their graduate degree program to acquire more in-depth training and skills in technical areas.

Online Diploma Overview

Diplomas are somewhat similar to certificates. It takes approximately two years to complete and involves a lot of clinical work. Diplomas are issued by educational institution that certifies that the recipients have completed a particular area of study.

Online Degrees Overview

Higher Education academic degrees are offered at many levels, including associate’s degrees, which take two years to complete. Bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to complete and master’s degrees take an additional two years beyond a bachelor’s degree, and doctoral degrees is the highest level you can earn. It takes several years beyond a master’s degree.

Online Degree Levels

Below are the four major degree levels you can earn in the United States along with their sub-categories:

Associates Degrees: Associates of Arts, Associates of Science and Associates of Applied Science.

Associates degrees consist of fulfilling your general education requirements and are earned upon successful completion of a two-year college program which includes 60 credit units. Most students begin their associates’ degrees at a community college then transfer to a four-year university to further their studies. The first two years of study at a two-year college is equivalent to that of the first two years of study in a bachelor’s degree program.

Bachelors/Baccalaureate/Four-year Degrees: Bachelors of Arts and Bachelors of Science.

The normal time frame to earn a bachelor’s degree is four-years. This degree requires 120 credit hours to complete and include both general education coursework in addition to coursework that is career specific to the students major. Students can also work on their major and a minor in another subject area.

Masters Degrees: Masters of Arts and Masters of Science.

Masters degrees are a more advanced degree earned by students after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Master’s degree programs usually take two additional years of full-time study beyond the bachelor’s degree. Coursework in a master’s degree programs are more specialized and students have more flexibility in selecting courses that are most relevant to their personal career goals.

Doctorate Degrees: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Medical Doctor (MD), Doctor of Dentistry (DDS or DMD). Doctor of Education (EdD), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), Doctor of Fine Arts (DFA), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and many others.

Doctoral degrees are the highest level of degree. The time it takes to earn a doctoral degree can vary from one to six years depending on the program. Some programs admit students to the doctoral program with a bachelor’s degree while other programs may require a master’s degree before admission.

Online Courses and High School Info

Accredited online colleges and universities also offer a variety of online credit and non-credit courses. High school students can also take online high school courses and earn their high school diplomas that are offered by online high schools, universities and other accredited educational institutions.