Written By - Derick de Souza

Reviewed By OMC Staff

An undergraduate degree is a type of degree earned after completing high school. Students of this degree are called undergraduates until they have completed the program successfully, after which they can call themselves graduates, although it is not accurate to do so. Undergraduate degrees constitute associate degrees and bachelor’s degrees. While associate degrees typically require two years to complete, bachelor’s degrees require four years.

A graduate degree is a type of degree that is earned after you have completed an undergraduate degree. Those who complete their graduate degree successfully are called graduates. Graduate degrees constitute master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. While master’s degrees typically require two years to complete, doctoral programs can take four to seven years. 

What is the difference between undergraduate and graduate?

Here are a few key distinctions between undergraduate and graduate studies:

  • Typically, undergraduate classes are substantially larger and less personalized. Students in graduate programs work closely with professors, frequently one-on-one.
  • The nature of undergraduate programs is more generic. They include general education courses in various disciplines not offered as part of a graduate program. Graduate programs are substantially more advanced and specialized than undergraduate programs, narrowing the field of study. 
  • Undergraduate programs typically limit examinations to those relevant to specific subjects; graduate programs, on the other hand, usually contain comprehensive exams. 
  • While some undergraduate programs include a project or similar undertaking, graduate studies heavily focus on research. Apart from classwork required in graduate programs, research preparation and defense of one’s work (thesis, dissertation, etc.) is the primary focus.  

Changing majors and attending a different school during a program is relatively easy for undergraduates. The narrowly specialized graduate degrees make it far more challenging to do so because although the degree title may be identical, the curriculum and structure may vary widely by college or program.

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Southern New Hampshire University

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Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

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