College levels are broken down into two main groups, which are undergraduate and graduate. The undergraduate level is comprised of the associate and bachelor’s level degrees. Beyond the bachelor’s level, there are graduate-level degrees which include master’s degrees and doctoral degrees. So, in the simplest form, there are just two levels beyond a bachelor’s degree, but with the different certification levels available post-bachelors and post-masters, there are a few more levels that are available based on the requirements of your career or your academic goals.
The college degree levels beyond the bachelor’s level are master’s and doctoral level degrees. A master’s degree is the first level of graduate study that students can take, and this can be used to enter a profession or to go on to the next level, doctorates. Masters degree programs typically take an additional 18 to 24 months to complete beyond a bachelor’s program. You may need to complete anywhere from 36 to 54-semester credits of study which is about 12 to 18 college courses. Master’s level degrees are usually awarded by larger schools and are almost never found at the community college level. Masters degrees like an MBA, a Master of Business Administration, is very widely applicable and can be completed in a shorter time span than the assumed two years. Other options, like a Master in Public Health, still have a broad scope but it is more tailored to a certain career. Masters degrees build on what you’ve learned in your bachelor’s program and add depth to your skills so that you will be able to take on bigger roles within your field. Many different types of master’s degrees offer more specialized concentrations that feature more tailored courses to exactly what you’d like to do. The higher up you continue your education, the more specialized it is going to become.
A Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD, is currently the highest degree that you can hold in America. There are a variety of different types of doctoral degree but none are held in quite the same esteem as a PhD. This is the second level beyond bachelors, technically. There are post-masters certificates and professional certificates that fit in between masters and doctoral degrees but they don’t hold the same weight as a full degree would. A doctoral degree typically takes an additional four years to complete if a traditional student is studying at a full-time pace. They require 90 to 120 semester credits, which equates to about 30 to 40 college classes. Very few career areas require you to earn a doctorate degree, but it is something that you can pursue regardless of your field! There are also several fields that require you to hold a doctorate, particularly in the medical field. You can also use a doctoral degree to teach at the college level. There are two types of doctoral degree you can earn in most fields. In education, for instance, you have the choice of earning a PhD or an EdD, which means Doctor of Education. The EdD is going to be for someone that wants to work as a teacher, perhaps. PhDs are typical more research focused and allow graduates to pursue research and teaching careers in the chosen field.