There are many paths for achieving personal skills and career goals through the higher education experience. A certificate program provides the opportunity for focused study in a specific subject, most often a vocational topic, while degree programs offer broader (at the undergraduate level) and more advanced platforms of study.
Certificate programs are categorized as follows: less than 1 academic year, requiring completion of an organized program of study within two semesters; at least 1 but less than 2 academic years, which is designed for completion in at least 30, but less than 60 credit hours; at least 2 but less than 4 academic years, requiring the effort the description suggests.. The post-baccalaureate certificate requires 18 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree, but does not meet the requirements of a master’s degree. The certificate of advanced graduate study normally requires 24 credit hours beyond the master’s and is coded in the SCHEV integrated database as having program level of post-master’s.
The associate degree normally requires two years of full-time college work. These degrees are designed to prepare individuals for a career or to transfer to a higher institution in order to pursue a baccalaureate (four-year) degree, depending on the nature of the curriculum selected.
The bachelor’s degree normally requires four to five years of full-time equivalent college-level work. This includes the five-year work-study plan and the five-year bachelor degrees such as architecture, as well as, bachelor’s degrees that are completed in less than the normal four years of study through advanced place or expedited study. In some SCHEV reports we distinguish between four-year and five-year degrees. The master’s degree requires the completion of a program of at least one but no more than two full-time equivalent academic years of work beyond the Bachelor’s degree.
First professional degree programs prepare individuals for careers involving specific skills, such as, dentistry (DDS, DMD), medicine (MD), Pharmacy (BPharm, PharmD), veterinary medicine (DVM), law (LLB, JD), and divinity/ministry (BD, MDiv). While the US Education Department no longer uses the term First Professional, it still has meaning in various Commonwealth policy models,The doctor’s degree is the highest award for graduate study, and includes professional practice degrees such as Doctor of Education, Doctor of Public Health, and Doctor of Philosophy degree in fields such as education, public administration, and radiology.