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List of Degrees: Most Popular Degree Programs by Level


Postsecondary degrees in the U.S. are available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. There are many different types of degrees offered at each level, from the professional Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) to the academic Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Read on to learn more about the most common degrees available at U.S. colleges and universities.
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Undergraduate Degrees

There are two broad categories of undergraduate college degrees: associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees. The average amount of time it takes to earn a degree - also called time to degree - is two years for an associate's degree and four years for a bachelor's degree. Some credits from associate's degree programs can typically be applied toward a bachelor's degree, but an associate's degree is not required for entrance to a bachelor's degree program.

Associate's Degrees

Most associate's degree programs are offered at vocational schools and community colleges, although some national universities have also started conferring 2-year degrees. Students who are seeking general education at this level are most likely to earn an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or an Associate of Science (A.S.) in topics ranging from literature to computer programming. The A.A. and A.S. degrees are most suited to transfer to a 4-year college or university.
Associate's degree programs are also very popular for students who are seeking more direct professional training or credentials. The most common type of vocational associate's degree is the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.). Some schools also offer specific diplomas, such as the Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN). Exact labels for professional associate's degrees will vary between institutions.

Bachelor's Degrees

Bachelor's degrees are offered at all 4-year colleges and universities, from large public institutions to small private colleges. 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.), but many schools simply lump these programs under the more general B.A. or B.S. categories.
Whether you earn a B.A. or a B.S. depends as much on your institution as your field of study. Some schools offer a B.A. for humanities and social sciences and a B.S. for applied sciences and research programs, but many institutions divide their degree programs by the graduation requirements.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the most common fields for bachelor's degree students are business, social studies, health sciences and education (www.nces.ed.gov).
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