Let Your Situation and Goals Determine Your Level of Degree

If you are enrolled in college, it is a pretty safe bet it is with the intent to begin or further your professional career. With so many choices, how do you know whether to pursue a certificate, diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree? The answer really depends on your current situation, your goals, your field of study, and the time you are able to devote to school.

Certification Programs

Certificates can be achieved in the shortest amount of time, usually two years or less with the least number of required classes. While sometimes interchanged with diplomas, certification programs typically specialized in one specific skill or area, and don’t offer a broad overview of a field or industry. Certification is often a good option for people who already have a degree or work experience, but want update or expand their skills. For example, someone with a business degree may seek a certificate in business management or someone with an education degree may pursue a certificate in early childhood education in order to work with preschool-aged children. It is also a good way to meet licensing requirements in certain professions and is sometimes used to help launch a new career quickly. Because fewer classes are required, it is also the most economical college credential.

Diploma Programs

Diploma programs are similar to certification programs in the fact they allow you to study a specific area of specialization, but they also offer an overview of the field you are studying. They tend to be a little longer and more in-depth than certification programs, but less involved and quicker to earn than a degree. A diploma is sometimes enough to help those making a career change obtain a job in a new industry.

Associate’s degree

An Associate’s degree differs from certificates and diplomas because it requires core courses like math, english, science, and history to support a more rounded education. Therefore, they are held in higher regard than a certificate or diploma and tend to open more doors. An associate’s degree can be completed in two years and is usually offered in vocational and technical fields. Rasmussen College offers an Associate’s degree in a number of fields including health science, nursing, business, education, justice studies, and technology and design. An Associate’s degree can often be earned online, which makes it a good option for adults who are working and/or raising a family and can’t afford to dedicate themselves full time as a student. It can also be applied towards a Bachelor’s degree down the road.

Bachelor’s degree

A Bachelor’s degree is the most highly regarded undergraduate degree because it is more in-depth, requires more courses, and more time to complete. Students working towards a Bachelor’s degree must commit to at least four-years as a full time student. There are several different kinds of Bachelor’s degrees. They are based on your major or concentration of study. The two most common are a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.), which is usually earned in humanities and social science fields, and Bachelor of Science (B.S.), which focuses on scientific and technical fields.

While typically the most expensive to earn, a Bachelor’s degree can also lead you to more opportunities and higher paying jobs. Most employers these days require at least a Bachelor’s degree. It can be earned at anytime in someone’s life, but may take longer to earn once you have other life commitments, such as full time employment and a family. It is most ideal for those just beginning their post-secondary education with the time to dedicate to school. Rasmussen College offers Bachelor’s degrees in health sciences, business, justice studies, nursing and technology and design.

External links provided on Rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen College does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced.

Michelle Knoll is a freelance writer based out of the Twin Cities with more than 15 years experience writing for local media outlets and other various organizations. She can be reached at Michelle@KnollCommunications.com

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