Baccalaureate Degree

Baccalaureate Degree

A Baccalaureate Degree is another name for a Bachelor’s Degree. By definition, the baccalaureate means the “the first,” and refers to the concept of a bachelor’s coming first in a post-secondary academic career.

A baccalaureate program is typically a four-year degree – that is, a degree which takes four years to complete if a student carries a full course load each semester. There are, of course, many non-traditional, accelerated and flexible degree programs offered by colleges and universities these days, which means that while a Baccalaureate Degree program may be basically the same as it ever was, the time it takes to complete that degree can be very different.

Choices of Schools

Today’s students have many choices available for completing a Baccalaureate Degree. Whether you’re a student just finishing high school or a non-traditional or adult student returning to school to finish a degree, you have the opportunity to finish your degree on your own schedule and according to your own lifestyle.

For those students who wish to go the traditional route, there are literally thousands of four year colleges and universities to choose from. Private schools often offer smaller class sizes but higher tuition costs. Public and state schools cost less but have higher student to professor ratios. Ultimately the choice is up to you and will be based on your financial circumstances and personal preferences.

If you’re interested in completing a Baccalaureate Degree as a part time student or wish to work full time and finish classes on your own schedule, there are other options available. Online degree programs, night classes and even courses at a standard college or university can fulfill your degree requirements.

Baccalaureate Degree Programs

Most Baccalaureate Degree programs in The United States are structured as four-year degrees, consisting of eight semesters. There are a few degrees that actually combine the Bachelor’s Degree with a Master’s, as is the case with many Master of Accounting programs in which four years count toward the Baccalaureate Degree and the fifth year completes the Master’s.

Baccalaureate Degrees are offered in two main categories: the Bachelor of Science and the Bachelor of Arts. Students select a major and that major determines the specialized degree the student pursues. For example, students can choose to major in chemistry, in which case they may go for a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry or a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry.

Degree Distinctions

Baccalaureate Degree

The biggest difference between a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Arts degree is their area of focus. Typically, those degrees that fall into the sciences category will be health, natural or social science disciplines. Arts degrees encompass the fine and performing arts, literature, English, and poetry.

Some academic disciplines are offered in Baccalaureate Degree programs in both the arts and sciences categories. For example, history, sociology, communications, and philosophy, to name a few, can be a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, dependent upon student preference and college or university program offerings.

What distinguishes an arts from a science degree is the core requirements for the degree completion. Science Baccalaureate Degrees are heavier in science and math courses and do not require a foreign language. Most arts degrees on the other hand do have a foreign language requirement (typically six semesters or more) and more English, literature and humanities courses.

Standard Baccalaureate Degree Curriculum

Each school defines its own degree requirements, but the typical Baccalaureate Degree requires somewhere between 120 and 140 credit hours, about a third of which are part of what is called the core curriculum or core requirements. These courses are designed to give students a well-rounded education that helps prepare them to handle any challenges life throws at them.

Even within the core curriculum, most colleges and universities provide some measure of student choice, as is the case when a list of classes are offered which satisfy core requirements. Not only do students then have the chance to select a class that is of personal interest to them in order to satisfy core credit hours, but they can also pick a class that will compliment their major or count toward a minor or academic concentration.

Requirements for a Major

In addition to core curriculum classes, a student pursuing a Baccalaureate Degree will be required to complete courses that are specific to their major. For example, a student majoring in business communications may be required to complete the following classes as part of their major.

  • Public Speaking
  • Business Writing
  • Small Group Communications
  • Public Relations
  • Conflict Management and Resolution
  • Business Ethics
  • Mass Communications
  • Media Studies
  • Intercultural Communications
  • Web Design
  • E-Communications

Every major will have its own specific list of required classes, and some majors require more classes than others. In some Baccalaureate Degree programs students must also complete laboratory hours or an internship as part of the major. To know for certain what the major requirements are for any degree, you will need to review the literature from the specific college or university, or speak with an admissions counselor or academic advisor.

Elective Courses in a Baccalaureate Degree

Every undergraduate degree program consists of courses in the core curriculum, the major requirements, and elective credit hours. Most Baccalaureate Degrees require students to select about thirty to forty credit hours as electives. Some students use those credit hours to explore other areas of interest outside their major. Others use these electives, whenever possible, as part of their major, their minor, or to establish an academic concentration.

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