Education degrees

To many high school graduates, the decision to pursue an education and study toward certain types of vocations or degree is important because their future is depending on their decisions that they make today. There are fields of study that require seven to ten years of education, when others only require few months to two years. For example, if you want to become a medical doctor, you will need at least seven to ten years but if you want to become a programmer or tester, two-year training will be sufficient. The different types of degrees are confusing. Following is an overview of the types of degree and education program in U.S:

Certificate Program is a short training program intended to certify that students who have successfully completed the program are prepared to enter the careers associated with the certificate. Most certificate programs are taught in vocational schools and usually take at least six months to two years to complete. These are not considered academic “degrees”, but qualify recipients can find jobs in some fields.

Associate’s Degree (A.S) this two-year degree is offered in state-funded community colleges. There are two types of A.S degree: The transfer degree and the technician's degree. The transfer degree (A.S Transfer) is focusing on teaching students fundamental concepts so after complete the two years, students can transfer to a four-year university to continue their education. All credits in this program can be counted toward the four-year bachelor degree. The Technician degree is focusing in teaching students skills that allow them to go to work in the industry. These credits are often not counted in university as the goal of this program is develop the skills so student can get jobs after finishing the program. For example: Software Programmer, Software tester, Nurse Aid or Health Care assistants.

Bachelor’s Degree (B.S/B.A) this four-year degree is the most commonly awarded degree and the preferred degree to hire by most industry. The program generally requires students to complete a number of required courses or credits in areas of specialized study there are several types of bachelor’s degrees. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) is given to students who complete numbers of course in the area of humanities, social, business, and arts. The Bachelor of Science (BS) is given to students who complete a numbers of course in science, mathematics, and engineering.

Master Degree (M.S.) is an advanced program that allows students to continue their education to focus on a specialty area. Admission requires that students to have a bachelor’s degree in certain fields of study. There are two types of master degree: A research master's degree that allows students to progress toward a doctoral program. In this program students must take all the required courses, AND support a professor on the research to learn more about how to conduct research. Students are required to publish at least a paper to professional journals. Depending on student's performance, the school may or may not accept students into the doctoral program. A Professional master’s degree focuses on a specialty where students learn how to apply certain technology into a special area or application. In this program students take all the required courses AND work on projects to develop their specialty. By graduate with special skills, students can go to work in an area highly valued by the industry.

Doctorate Degrees (Ph.D) is highest earned degree in universities. Students must spend several years to conduct research to develop new innovations, new technology that are in principle publishable in a special research journal AND represents a modest contribution to human knowledge. The research is usually assessed by submission and defense of a thesis or dissertation, or of a suitable published work.

Postdoctoral Programs (Post-doc) is a special program designed for scholar, or individual holding a doctoral degree but want to engage in a period of mentored research or scholarly work. Postdoctoral people can pursue basic, clinical, or translational projects so long as their primary effort is devoted toward their own scholarly study. Post-docs are essential in some special areas such as medicine, research institution, and are expected to have the freedom to publish the results of their study. Most post-doc may lasts approx. two to several years depending on the research.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University

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