What is a bachelor's degree?


Quick Answer

A bachelor's degree is a 4-year college degree. It is the highest level of undergraduate education.

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What is a bachelor's degree?
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Full Answer

The typical requirement for earning a bachelor's degree is the completion of 120 semester hours of coursework. This equals about 40 courses, meaning that the typical pace is 10 courses per year, or five courses per semester. In schools with quarter-based schedules, this requirement translates to 180 quarter hours.

The majority of the coursework required for a bachelor's degree is general education like English, mathematics and science, as well as core humanities such as history and critical thinking. Around 30 to 36 semester hours are dedicated to courses in the student's chosen focus, which is known as the major. The remainder semester hours are taken up by elective courses, or courses the student wishes to apply to a minor, which is a secondary area of focus after the major.

A bachelor's degree is usually the lowest level of education required for professional jobs. Almost all postgraduate study programs require a bachelor's degree as well.

Many colleges and universities have honors systems to award high-achieving students. The honors are, in descending order, summa cum laude, magna cum laude and cum laude. They are based on a student's grade point average, or GPA.

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