Four Types of Degrees Explained

College is on the horizon for many high school juniors and seniors who soon will be asking themselves the question: “What am I going to do with my life?” The answer will usually depend on the type of degree they choose to pursue after graduating from high school.

There are four major types of degrees — each with their own prerequisites — that can lead to fulfilling careers and professions, usually within two to eight years depending on the degree program.

  1. Associate degree
  2. Bachelor’s degree
  3. Master’s degree
  4. Doctoral degree


An associate degree is a two-year degree that helps prepare students for vocational careers and technical fields such as nursing, office administration, or cosmetology. This type of degree is usually offered by community colleges or technical programs. Students who earn associate degrees after high school can often transfer to four-year universities to pursue higher level degrees.

There are four types of associate degrees:

  • AA (Associate of Arts)
  • AS (Associate of Science)
  • AAA (Associate of Applied Arts)
  • AAS (Associate of Applied Science)

Here are a few of the most popular associate degree programs:

  • Liberal arts
  • Computer science
  • Nursing
  • Medical assisting/ Dental assisting
  • Business administration


A bachelor’s degree typically takes four years to earn. In many cases, students start pursuing a bachelor’s degree soon after graduating high school. In other cases, students might take a gap year or build up a few years of work experience before deciding to start earning a bachelor’s degree.

Over the course of earning a bachelor’s degree, students are usually required to take general education classes as well as classes that relate to a specific subject matter or career field such as health, business, education, or engineering. As a general rule, you’ll need to earn a bachelor’s degree before you’re able to pursue earning a master’s degree.

There are over 80 types of bachelor’s degrees. These are the most common:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Here are some of the most popular bachelor’s degree programs:

  • Business
  • Health-related
  • Biology
  • Communications
  • Psychology
  • Education
  • Engineering


A master’s degree is a graduate degree that can typically be completed within one or two years. Most master’s degree programs are designed to help students go further in their field of interest and advance their careers to qualify for upper level positions. In some cases, having a master’s degree can improve your earning potential.

There are several different kinds of master’s degrees. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MS, MSc)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • Master of Education (MEd)


A doctoral degree is the highest and most advanced degree available. This type of degree, which may take several years to complete, typically helps students become experts in their field and increases their professional credibility. This degree requires research and a deeper focus in specific areas such as medicine, psychology, or law.

There is a wide variety of doctoral degree programs you can pursue. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctor of Engineering (EngD)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Theology (Th.D)

Auburn University at Montgomery’s instructors and professors provide students with award-winning, experienced teaching talent in on-campus, online, and convenient hybrid learning environments.


  • On-campus: Program can be completed in person without taking online classes.
  • Online: Entire degree program offered online.
  • Hybrid: Degree program can be completed by taking some courses online and others in person.


There are so many great programs available! Check out AUM’s comprehensive list of bachelor’s degree programs to see what interests you.


  • Accountancy
  • Business Administration
  • Healthcare Management
  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Information Systems and Cyber Security
  • Computer Science
  • Criminal Justice
  • Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • Applied Economics
  • Clinical Mental Health Counseling
  • Elementary and Early Childhood Education
  • Exercise Science
  • Instructional Leadership
  • Instructional Technology
  • Physical Education
  • School Counseling
  • Secondary Education
  • Special Education
  • Sport Management
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Exercise Science
  • Physical Education
  • Sport Management
  • ​Master of Liberal Arts
  • Nursing
  • Healthcare Administration
  • Political Science
  • Psychology
  • Public Administration


  • Nursing
  • ​Public Administration and Public Policy

*As of 09/2022

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