What Is The First Degree You Get In College?


Most people want to get a college degree after completing high school so they can get a good job with a higher salary and a growing career.

The 1st degree in college is either a 4 yr undergraduate bachelors degree or a 2 yr undergraduate associate degree. Community college students complete an associate degree for 2 years before transferring to a university for another 2 years for completion of the bachelors degree.

Some students choose to complete a dual degree that combines a bachelors degree and a masters degree into a single predetermined curriculum. In this case, both the bachelors and the masters degrees will be completed together as the 1st two degrees.

First Degree In College

It’s usually best to directly enroll into a bachelors degree program for 4 years after high school graduation. A bachelors degree is suitable for a well paying job in many industries such as business, engineering, science, healthcare, nursing, social sciences, computer technology, digital arts and so on.

To reduce their college tuition expenses, some students sign up for and complete a more affordable associate degree at a community college, before taking a job or before transferring to a university for a bachelors degree. This gives them the opportunity to start working after 2 years of college rather than waiting for 4 years to start their career.

Therefore, a first degree can be either a bachelors degree or an associate degree depending on the route the student takes to get there.

But its generally much easier to directly start and complete a bachelors degree than it is to get an associate degree followed by a bachelors degree. This is because many 4 year colleges have their own credits transfer policies and some courses you took in community college may not transfer to the 4 year bachelors degree.

This could delay your bachelors degree much longer than another 2 years after the associate degree, such that the time from high school graduation to your bachelors degree completion would be about 5 or 6 years.

Therefore, if you get a good college scholarship, or if you can afford college or have a simple way to pay for college without taking any loans, it’s preferable for you to directly signup for a bachelors degree program as your first degree.

What Degree Is 2 Years Of College?

An associate degree generally takes 2 years of college as long as you complete all the core credit courses and those for your degree major in the right time and order.

Some students go wrong by taking too many duplicate core courses thereby delaying their associate degree and spending more than they need to for their associate degree. This usually happens due to misinformation or misleading information they gather from student counselors or from the college brochures, or due to their own lack of proper understanding.

So its extremely important for community college students to work with competent college student counselors and to be self-driven, ask all the right questions and to independently take ownership of their associate degree completion process from the start.

Is A 2-year Degree Worth It?

A 2 year degree is certainly worth it if you complete the degree in 2 years and especially if your degree major is relevant to an in-demand, junior-to-mid-level occupation.

Some typical occupations that pay well and require only an associate degree include the following:

  • Radiologist

  • Computer Programmer/ Technician

  • Nurse

  • Nuclear Technician

  • Dental Assistant

  • Physician’s Assistant

For other in-demand occupations such as project managers, engineers, accountants and so on, a bachelors degree is generally required.

Advanced engineering specializations and business managers are required to have a masters degree such as an MS or an MBA. Research scientists, or tenured college professors are more than likely to have a doctoral degree.

What Are The 4 Types Of College Degrees?

The four types or levels of college degrees are:

  • Associate degree
  • Bachelors degree
  • Masters degree
  • Doctoral or PhD degree

What Is A 6 Year Degree Called?

A dual bachelors-cum-masters degree typically takes 6 years to complete. This combines the 4 years for the bachelors degree with the 2 years for the masters degree.

In some cases, community college students who transfer to university take about 3 years for the associate degree and another 3 years to complete their bachelors degree after the credits transfer from some of the community college courses.

In this case, the final degree after the time span of 6 years is a 4 year bachelors degree.

Are There Benefits To A Dual Bachelors-and-Masters Degree?

There are advantages to completing a dual bachelors-cum-masters degree, as there will be a lot of continuity, uniformity and progression from the more general to the highly advanced concepts of many similar topics as part of the bachelors to masters curriculum.

Also, there will be very little time lost in completing a bachelors and then applying for admissions for a masters with the entrance tests and so on. This is because both the bachelors and the masters will be completed as one cohesive degree program.

But its important for students of such dual degree programs to be willing to study continuously for 6 years without a break.

So students in dual degree programs need to have the seriousness and perseverance to study continuously for longer periods.

Financial such a degree could also be a strain for the student and their parents, so adequate financial planning needs to be done before signing up for a dual degree program.

Is A Masters Harder Than A Bachelors Degree?

Just as the bachelors degree curriculum is at a much higher level and therefore harder than a high school 12th grade curriculum, a masters degree is also significantly harder than a bachelors degree.

Writing longer research essays, longer and more complex studies and statistical data-based inferences are found in many masters degrees such as an MBA or an MS. Therefore, a masters degree should normally be studied only by a student who is prepared for such a higher level of rigor and hard work.

Moreover, there should be a clear career advantage in spending this extra effort and time on completing a masters degree. This is generally guaranteed as long as the student’s degree major is in a growing field with overall good salaries and many job opportunities.

Should I Get My Masters Right After My Bachelors?

Ideally you should sign up for your masters degree right after your bachelors degree such that both are completed in a period of 6 years from high school graduation. This would mean that you will have to apply for admission for your masters degree immediately upon receiving your first unofficial transcripts for your complete bachelors degree.

Most colleges are ok to receive your college application even if your college transcripts take a few additional weeks to reach them from your undergraduate institution.

Some students take one of more gap years between their bachelors and masters degrees. If you decide to do this, be sure to either start working in the interim or to have a valid reason for doing this.

It’s easier to get admission for your postgraduate masters degree right after your bachelors degree. It’s also easier for students to complete their masters when they are younger with no additional family or other responsibilities on their shoulders.

Some people are never able to find a way to complete their master degree once they take up a job, settle down with a family and so on. So the sooner you complete all your educational milestones the better!

What Is A Good Major That Pays Well?

Registered nurses earn a good pay and many of them do so with just an associate degree along with a nurse license (RN). Others with a healthcare associate degrees without a RN license get jobs as physician’s assistants or dental assistants with a good pay scale.

There are also healthcare administration degrees which are focused on professionals who manage various activities in a hospital or clinic but who do not directly work with the patients. For such roles, a bachelors degree is usually all that is needed.

Some engineering degrees such as petroleum engineers are paid very well but this might require the physical stamina to work near the drilling sites and gas pipelines.

Other engineering degrees such as civil engineering or electrical or mechanical engineering also pay somewhat well but the ones who receive some of the best engineering pay with many opportunities for career growth are computer engineers and computer scientists with several years of experience.

But in fields such as computer technology, artificial intelligence or cyber security, the technologies and innovation changes happen extremely rapidly. So students or engineers who choose a technology degree need to be ready for a life-long learning regimen though it can be quite exciting for the more scientific thinkers.

Some students who are artistic and comfortable with technology decide to go for a career in digital arts and animation which is also a good major to choose. Science and mathematics degrees also pay well and are suitable for many research positions with a masters or doctorate.

But for most people, an undergraduate business degree makes a person suitable for many business related occupations and many of them offer good salaries. Business students need to be more people focused and benefit greatly if they have the natural ability to manage people.

Is It Better To Get A Bachelors Or Masters Degree?

For degree majors such as business, computer software or healthcare which are always in popular demand, a bachelors degree is sufficient in the first few years of one’s career. But for senior positions involving either people management or specialized technologies and occupations, a masters degree is usually required.

But for research focused positions in science or mathematics, or for tenured professors, a doctorate is a good fit. For many other senior roles and occupations in the legal profession such as senior attorneys, or in medical fields such as physicians or surgeons, a masters degree such as LLM or MD is always good to have.

What are the highest paying jobs with a 2 year degree?

Here are well paying occupations that require an associates degree, along with their yearly median entry-level salary:

1) Air traffic controller: $130,000/year

2) Nuclear technician: $84,000

3) Dental Hygienist: $75,000

4) Registered Nurse: $70,000

5) Civil Engineer: $65,000

6) Medical Assistant: $60,000

7) Computer Programmer: $55,000

8) Business Administration: $52,000

What careers will never go away?

In the next 10 or more years, many fields will see a greater degree of automation but those which compulsorily require human interaction such as doctors, nurses or dentists, teachers or professors, or even drama or movie actors or directors are careers that are here to stay.

Most technical, engineering or some scientific fields or even digital arts are suitable to various degrees of automation which will result in lower demand for those occupations, especially in the wealthier nations.

Similarly, movie or theater actors, directors and support staff are likely to have long careers that won’t go away. This is because these occupations require human face time and interaction and the need for entertainment is continuously on the rise.

In the developed world and most western countries, there is a greater chance of automation than in the more developing nations. This is because the cost of labor in the poorer developing nations is likely to be a lot lower than the cost of building intelligent, automated systems.

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