Undergraduate Degrees
Undergraduate Degrees

There are two types of undergraduate degrees offered at American colleges and universities.
Bachelor's and Associate Degrees

The bachelor's degree typically takes four years to complete, though some students take slightly less time to finish, and others may take longer. The associate degree usually takes two years to complete. Associate degree programs may be "terminal" programs, which lead into specific careers upon graduation, or "transfer" programs, which correspond to the first two years of a bachelor's degree and tend to be more liberal arts based. Under the latter option one could then transfer into the third year of a four-year bachelor's degree program. Associate degree programs are offered at two-year colleges known as junior or community colleges. Four-year colleges and universities offer bachelor's degree programs, with a small number also offering associate degree programs.

The U.S. Bachelor's Degree

One of the most attractive features of the bachelor's degree program in the United States is that it is highly flexible. You can usually choose from a wide variety of courses and create your own unique program of study. The degree is awarded after you complete a specified number of credits, which are usually completed in four years of full-time study. The first year is called the freshman year; the second is called sophomore; the third, junior; and the fourth, senior. You may read that students in the United States often take longer than four years to complete their degrees. This may be because they change majors and need to accumulate enough credits in the new major field to earn the degree. Or it may be because they take less than a full-time course load per term for academic, personal, or financial reasons. International students, however, cannot study part-time and must maintain full-time status. Courses taken in the first two years are known as lower division courses, and courses taken in the final two years are called upper division courses. College catalogs usually assign a number to a course, which indicates the level of study as follows:

100 – 199 Freshman
200 – 299 Sophomore
300 – 399 Junior
400 – 499 Senior