Bachelor's Degrees: The Basics

What is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A Bachelor’s degree is typically a four-year degree that a person receives from an accredited college or university. However, there are some online colleges that offer accelerated programs, where a person can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in as little as two years. On the other hand, some people choose to enter as a part-time student, for various reasons, and then it may take longer for them to complete their program.

Requirements for a Bachelor’s Degree

The requirements for a bachelor’s degree vary between colleges and the type of degree that is being sought. However, typically a person can expect to have to complete a total of 120 college hours. This averages out to about fifteen hours per semester over a four-year period. It is possible to graduate sooner, if summer classes and additional semester hours are taken.

Not all of the required hours will be in the degrees subject. In fact, a person may only take 30 to 36 hours in their chosen field. The rest of the classes are often referred to as “basics.” These classes come from varying subjects such as Philosophy, Science, History, and Psychology, just to name a few. There are three types of bachelor’s degrees – Bachelor of Art, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Fine Arts.

A Bachelor of Art degree is the broadest of these degrees. People, who earn these types of degrees, often take fewer classes in the degree’s subject. This has the benefit of allowing the student to take a more diverse selection of classes and is often thought of as a less rigid degree path.

In contrast, a Bachelor of Science degree focuses more on the field of study and less on exploration of the person’s other interests. These degrees are considered more career focused. Examples include nursing, engineering, and computer science.

Bachelors of Fine Arts degrees focus, as the name implies, on the fine arts. These degrees are for those who are going to pursue a career in the creative arts. Dancers and artists are often those who seek these types of degrees. They focus primarily on their subject.


While a bachelor’s degree does not guarantee the holder a job upon graduation, it does significantly improve the person’s chances of obtaining a higher paying job than without one. Obtaining the degree will increase the holder’s earnings an average of 84% over their lifetime. Careers that require a four-year degree average a starting salary of just over $48,000.

Bachelor’s degrees also enable the graduate to apply to Graduate Schools. Graduate schools will not accept students that have not completed a bachelor’s degree program. Therefore, if a person wants a law degree, they will have to complete a bachelor’s program at an accredited college or university prior to admissions.