Bachelors vs Masters
Bachelors vs. Masters – a sometimes tricky decision to make. Many of the highest-paying jobs necessitate a university degree. Getting an entry-level position may be easier with an associate’s degree or certification, but earning a bachelor’s or master’s degree might enhance one’s career in the short and long run. This page will provide all the information prospective students need to make an informed decision about their future, cover the basics of understanding what the two types of degrees are about, and answer critical questions as well.
Featured Online Programs
What is Bachelors Degree
A Bachelors Degree is typically a 4 year degree that introduces students to the field of study in the initial semesters and then prepares students to become professionals in that field of study. Some students wonder about ‘Whats comes after associates degree’; While an associate degree is the initial level of higher education that can be earned after graduating from high school, a bachelor’s degree is considered the second level. However, one does not need to complete an associate’s degree to pursue a bachelor’s degree. The majority of programs leading to a bachelor’s degree require students to complete about 120 credit hours, which is roughly equivalent to about 40 classes and usually takes four years to complete. A bachelor’s degree is also commonly referred to as an undergraduate degree.
Types of Bachelor’s Degrees
There are several types of bachelor’s degrees, the most common being:
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) – based on the humanities
- Bachelor of Science (BS) – based on science and math
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) – focusing on fine arts such as creative writing, drama, music, studio art, etc.
- Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) – focusing on business, economics, and commerce
The number of young Americans earning a bachelor’s degree is steadily rising. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the percentage of people age 25 and older with a bachelor’s degree or higher jumped from 29.9% to 36.0% from 2010 to 2019.
What is a Master’s Degree
A Masters Degree is a program that prepares students to become masters in the area of the field of study. Completing a bachelor’s degree makes a person eligible to take up a master’s degree program. The most common reasons for pursuing a master’s degree are a desire for increased pay, a change in careers, or the desire to pursue a passion or personal interest. Unlike a bachelor’s degree that is broad-based, a master’s degree focuses on a single subject and usually requires 33 to 60 credits, taking about 2 years to complete in most cases. A master’s degree is also commonly referred to as a graduate degree.
Types of Master’s Degrees
Like bachelor’s degrees, there are many different types of master’s degrees available, depending on the field of study. Some common types of master’s degrees include:
- Master of Arts (MA)
- Master of Science (MS)
- Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
- Master of Education (MEd)
- Master of Social Work (MSW)
- Master of Public Administration (MPA)
- Master of Engineering (ME)
- Master of Library Science (MLS)
- Master of Philosophy (MPhil)
- Master of Theology (MTh)
- Master of Law (LLM)
- Master of Health Science (MHS)
- Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
- Master of Psychology (MPsych)
The credit range of a master’s degree program is mainly determined by the academic backgrounds of pupils. A student might be able to complete their master’s degree with fewer credits if they completed undergraduate courses in the same discipline, translating to a shorter time to graduate.
A report published by the U.S. Census Bureau states that young Americans aged 25 and over whose highest degree was a master’s has doubled to 21 million in 2018 compared to 10.4 million in 2000.
What is the Difference Between a Bachelor’s Degree and a Master’s Degree?
The main difference between a bachelor’s and master’s degree is that a bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree while a master’s degree is a graduate degree. Additionally, bachelor’s degree programs often focus on providing students with a broad overview of their chosen field, while master’s degree programs focus on providing students with specialized knowledge and skills. Finally, bachelor’s degree programs typically require students to complete a capstone project or thesis, while master’s degree programs may require students to complete a research project, thesis, or internship. Here is a quick overview of the main differences between a bachelor’s and master’s degree:
|Bachelor’s vs Master’s Degrees – Broad Comparison|
|Bachelor’s Degree||Master’s Degree|
|Basic Prerequisites||General Educational Development (GED) or Highschool Diploma||Bachelor’s Degree + Prerequisite Courses in Chosen Subject|
|Time to Complete (Average)||4 Years||2 to 5 Years|
|Annual Tuition (Average)*||Public: $8,600 | Private: $34,920||Public: $8,850 | Private: $30,450|
|Credits||Approx. 120 Credits||Average 45 Credits|
|Typical Degrees||Bachelor of Arts (BA) Bachelor of Science (BS) Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) Bachelor of Nursing (BSN)||Master of Arts (MA) Master of Science (MS) Master of Fine Arts (MFA) Master of Nursing (MSN)|
Bachelors vs Masters? – Which Degree is Suitable
Choosing a degree program is a major decision. Which of the two suits an individual better largely depends on their educational background.
Those who meet the following criteria might be good candidates for a bachelor’s degree program:
- You do not have any post-secondary education.
- You finished certain college courses but did not receive a diploma.
- You obtained an associate’s degree or a certificate.
- You have a bachelor’s degree but wish to pursue a job or a master’s degree in a completely different area.
Those who wish to get a master’s degree should check the following points:
- You want to change careers and boost your work prospects.
- You wish to move up to executive positions or other occupations that require a master’s degree.
- You wish to strengthen your job security by updating your industry expertise.
- You want to learn more about your field and improve your knowledge in specific areas.
These are just a few of the factors that may influence one’s decision to pursue one degree over another. For those who already have a bachelor’s degree, pursuing a master’s degree may be the most advantageous next step in terms of compensation and job progression. Therefore, when selecting a program, it is essential to think about the complete worth of the degree and how it will improve one’s professional opportunities both now and in the future.
Bachelors vs Master? – Comparing their Value
One of the most compelling reasons to pursue a master’s degree is better pay packets. In general, master’s degree holders may almost always earn better than their bachelor counterparts, but other factors such as the chosen industry, age, experience, skill sets, certifications, additional qualifications, location, etc., influence salaries. Here is a quick look at salary differences between a bachelor’s degree worker and a master’s degree worker:
|Field/Industry||Bachelor’s Degree Average Annual Salary||Master’s Degree Average Annual Salary|
|Marketing & Sales||$80,000||$110,000|
*Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
It is rather evident that a master’s degree can bring in more income for an individual. But what could be the lifetime earnings for either degree holder? Here is a quick look at the numbers, as reported by Forbes:
- high school diploma – $1.6 million
- associate’s degree – $2 million, or about $50,000 per year
- bachelor’s degree – $2.8 million, the equivalent of $70,000 annually
- master’s degree – $3.2 million, or $80,000 annually
How to Choose a Degree Program
Be it students or working professionals who do not want to quit their job to go back to school, there are some crucial features to look for in programs that will not only make getting the desired degree easier but will also provide excellent educational value. Here are some of the important ones to look for:
- Online Degree Programs – that allow the individual to work around their schedule while completing their degree.
- Selectable & Interactive Coursework – that provides the opportunity to pick and choose courses and tailor-make the program to get the best value.
- Institutions Accepting Transfer Credits – that will make sure that credits for all the prior experience or courses will be factored in to help get the degree faster and for less money.
- Accreditation – that ensures the credibility of the institution and recognition of the degree by other institutions and the job market.
- Well-Experienced Faculty – who have real-world knowledge and experience and are familiar with the chosen field of study.
- Networking – that allows students to connect with each other, industry experts, and professionals in the field who can provide support, advice, and guidance.
Bachelors vs Masters – Which is Better
A bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree each have the potential to pave the way for gratifying educational and professional prospects. For bachelor’s degree holders, the good news is that they can start a master’s degree at any time after they acquire their bachelor’s degree. This is true regardless of whether they want to take a few months off or resume classes again after more than ten years have passed since they last attended school.
On the other hand, if obtaining a master’s degree is consistent with one’s own goals and is expected in one’s chosen line of work, serious consideration should be given to opting for one. In the end, either one does not necessarily best the other – it boils down to one’s preference, interests, and goals.