Introduction to Undergraduate Degree Programs
Obtaining an undergraduate degree, either an associate's or a bachelor's, from an accredited college or university will open many doors to new and lucrative careers. The following schools offer undergrad degree programs across a wide array of subjects, including business, education, healthcare, art, and more.
Kaplan University — Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. Kaplan University enjoys a good repuation as one of the largest accredited online undergraduate universities in the country. Degrees from Kaplan are available in a wide variety of fields, ranging from nursing to business to technology, and more.
Ashford University — Associate's, Bachelor's, and Master's Degrees. Experience a new way of learning through the innovative online experience at Ashford University that integrates engaging curricula, modern digital tools, a vibrant online community, and cherished tradition. AU is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, 985 Atlantic Ave, Suite 100, Alameda, California 94501, 510.748.9001, www.wascsenior.org.
DeVry University — Associate, Bachelor's, and Master's Degree programs. With 95+ campuses across the U.S. and in Canada, DeVry University is well known as a leader in online education, offering courses of study in most degree programs, including business, technology, and liberal arts.
Walden University — Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD Degrees. Offering accredited online degree programs in criminal justice, science, business, health, nursing, and more, Walden University is an ideal candidate for any working professional looking to advance his/her career to the next level.
Liberty University — Associate's, Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD Degrees. Established by the late Reverend Jerry Falwel in 1971 as Lynchburg Christian Academy, Liberty University is the largest undergraduate evangelical Christian university in the United States. It's motto: "Training Champions for Christ."
Grand Canyon University — Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctorate Degrees. Grand Canyon University is a small, nondenominational Christian university located in Phoenix. GCU offers both online- and campus-based undergraduate degree programs in business, education, nursing, entrepreneurships, and liberal arts. GCU also boasts an NCAA Division II athletic programs.
Herzing University — Master's and Doctorate Degrees. Herzing University was founded in 1965, formerly known as Herzing College. On the cutting edge from the beginning, Herzing offers online programs in the form of bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees.
Description of Undergraduate Degrees
An undergraduate degree is the first level of upper-level advanced education after high school and is necessary to continue all advanced learning programs. It’s an academic degree of undergraduate courses offered by higher educational institutions such as colleges and universities. Undergraduate degrees can take two to five years to complete, depending on the degree level, program, and major of study.
There is an abundance of undergraduate degrees offered online that are guaranteed to match your interests and needs. The subject listings are immense: arts and religion, business, computers and IT, education and teaching, health and medicine, science and engineering, social sciences, and more. Usually it’s not expected for a student to know what they wish to study when first entering an undergraduate degree program—choosing a major typically happens about halfway through. Online universities and colleges usually have support staff and academic advisors who can help you in the decision-making process. Normally people choose majors based upon the career they wish to have after graduating, as well as their skills, interests, and abilities. Depending on the major you choose, there’s also often room to change throughout the program.
Undergraduate degree programs usually have a liberal arts component of general learning within the first and second year of curriculum, meant to offer you a chance to explore areas outside of your major. These general requirements and electives are meant to provide you with a well-rounded academic perspective. Classes include humanities, English, math and science, psychology, foreign languages, history, government, music and art, among others.
Popular Undergraduate degrees
Undergraduate Degrees are ideal for starting your career; associate programs take only two years to complete while bachelor programs take four but usually open more doors to lucrative positions. However online programs can cut associate degrees down to 18 months and bachelor programs down to only three years! Here are some of the most undergraduate degrees:
- Undergraduate Degrees in Arts
- Undergraduate Degrees in Business
- Undergraduate Degrees in Computers
- Undergraduate Degrees in Education
- Undergraduate Degrees in Healthcare
- Undergraduate Degrees in Science & Technology
- Undergraduate Degrees in Social Sciences
Undergraduate Degree Levels
There are a few different degree options for undergraduate education:
- Associate’s Degree (AA): This is a two-year degree usually undertaken at the beginning of a four-year bachelor’s degree, but sometimes taken as is. This is the lowest degree in the hierarchy of offered undergraduate degrees, and is offered by community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, and occasionally bachelor’s degree granted colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting two years. Sometimes two-year schools have transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities, which allow a student to easily continue their education on to a bachelor’s degree. Associate’s degrees are usually specifically related to a trade or technical skill, such as dental or medical assistant, although there are general liberal arts studies as well.
- Bachelor’s of Arts Degree (BA): A bachelor’s of arts degree is a four-year degree that’s awarded in undergraduate liberal arts programs, the sciences, or both. Within the BA degree a student can usually study a minor as well as a major—minor constituting for a topic of study consisting in about half the credits a major takes to complete. Upon completion of a bachelor’s of art degree a student is awarded a diploma, printed on high quality parchment, with the name of the institution, signatures of officials of the institution, the type of degree awarded, and the location where the degree was awarded.
- Bachelor’s of Science Degree (BS): A bachelor’s of science degree is very common in nature with a bachelor’s of arts degree. As a four-year degree it is usually awarded to students who’s major study is within the sciences: engineering, computer science, mathematics, natural sciences, medicine and nursing. A student can also have a minor topic of study along with their major, and a diploma is also awarded after completion.
Benefits of Obtaining Undergraduate Degrees Online:
Online undergraduate degree programs can be tailored to fit your needs in ways that campus based undergraduate degree programs just can’t offer. Unlike attending a college campus where you’re only offered the select degrees that the specific college offers, online education allows you to get a degree in anything from anywhere. There is a wide array of degree offerings, and with online degree programs there is even usually an option to accelerate your post-secondary education within a specific degree. You can take classes as you’re able to fit them into your already booked schedule—arrange classes around your family and work rather than the other way around. When you attend classes on campus you don’t have a choice when those classes are scheduled. Online courses can be taken at any time from anywhere. It’s more convenient and flexible than taking classes on campus.
Obtaining an undergraduate course online can also save money. Without the costs of driving between campus and home, eating on campus, or the social life a campus life brings you, your potential savings can be huge. Also online degree programs can have special packages that allow the cost to be less than on a college campus. There are some things you’ll need in getting an online degree though: a computer, high speed Internet, and commitment. With these three things in hand though, and online education may just be the right step for you and your busy life.
What Can I Study with an Undergraduate Degree?
There are many different majors and minors offered through undergraduate degree programs. They can be broken into some main topics of interest:
Arts and Humanities: The arts and humanities are considered liberal arts areas of study. Some students choose to get their undergraduate degree in general studies, which covers a wide range of topics. Others choose to get a specific degree such as design, communication, fashion, history, music, political science, writing, religion, journalism, and others. Some colleges and universities offer interdisciplinary majors, too, where you can have a degree of three or more areas of study.
Healthcare: Healthcare undergraduate degrees come in many different forms and provides students with the training, knowledge, and skill sets they need to directly obtain a healthcare career placement. Some of the top healthcare programs include dental assistant, medical assistant, medical billing and coding, nursing, pharmacy technician, physical therapy, psychology, and others.
Information Technology and Computers: Today, more then ever before, we’re in need of information technology (IT) technicians and people who are computer savvy. That’s why these programs are some of the most popular undergraduate degrees. Some of the most desired degrees include computer engineering, computer security, databases, engineering, engineering management, graphics and multimedia, information systems, information technology, programming, networks, software engineering, web design, web development, and more.
Business: One of the most common undergraduate degrees is in business. These degrees help people understand the fundamentals and business and in return be able to effectively manage a company, organize workers, and maximize profits. Different degree options within business are accounting, business administration, business communications, business leadership, ecommerce, economics, finance, hotel and hospitality, human resources, management, marketing, operations management, real estate, risk management, and small business management, among others.
Criminal Justice and Social Sciences: Degrees in the criminal justice and social sciences realm allow graduates to enter into fulfilling careers that improve our society and communities. Different options within this field include counseling, criminal justice, homeland security, peace and justice studies, conflict studies, legal studies, paralegal, public administration, sociology, and more.
Education and Training: In order to become a teacher a person needs an undergraduate degree. Teachers and educators play an important role in development—who we become as people—and the field has rewarding benefits. There are different levels of education and teaching major’s including adult education, early childhood education, general education, K-12 education, and special education.
Salary Potential with an Undergraduate Degree
In general, earning an undergraduate degree can be a huge benefit to how much you earn throughout your lifetime. The worth of an undergraduate degree was found to be very significant, with undergraduate bachelor’s degrees averaging 74% more income than high school diplomas, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only does the degree help you earn more money, but it also increases your career options, opportunities, advancement, and provides high-level training that sets you apart from others. An undergraduate diploma is an investment that delivers significant value.
The ten undergraduate college degrees that lead to the highest paying salary are:
- Petroleum Engineering: $97,900(starting wage); $155,000 (mid-career) (BLS)
- Chemical Engineering: $64,500; $109,000 (BLS)
- Electrical Engineering: $61,300; $103,000 (BLS)
- Materials Science & Engineering: $60,400; $103,000 (BLS)
- Aerospace Engineering: $60,700; $102,000 (BLS)
- Computer Engineering: $61,800; $101,000 (BLS)
- Physics: $49,800; $101,000 (BLS)
- Applied Mathematics: $52,600; $98,600 (BLS)
- Computer Science: $56,600; $97,900 (BLS)
- Nuclear Engineering: $65,100; $97,800 (BLS)
The five most popular undergraduate degrees in 2011 were:
- Business Administration: Without an MBA you can earn a $55,000 salary (BLS) at an entry-level position.
- Criminal Justice: Starting salaries vary greatly but the average is around $40,000. (BLS)
- Psychology: This field varies greatly in what you can do, from research and study, to social services and counseling. Salaries depend on the specific field you enter, but an average starting salary can be around $45,000 (BLS).
- Nursing: Nursing positions vary greatly, from the type of nursing it is to the type of location or clinic you’re working in. Once again the salary depends on many factors, but most starting wages are around $40,000 (BLS).
- Education: Teachers can expect starting salaries of $30,000 (BLS), depending on location and specific needs of school districts.