An undergraduate is a person who is attending college but has not yet graduated, while a postgraduate is a person who has graduated from college and is working on an advanced degree.
There are two basic types of undergraduate degrees, which are bachelor's degrees and associate degrees. Postgraduate degrees are degrees that people can obtain after they have earned an associate degree or a bachelor's degree. Postgraduate degrees include master's degrees and doctoral degrees. Students generally complete an associate degree in two years, while a standard bachelor's degree program takes four years. Most students who earn a bachelor's degree in college get either a Bachelor of Arts degree, which is used in fields related to social science and the humanities, or a Bachelor of Science degree, which is required for many professions that involve the physical sciences.
Regardless of whether students are pursuing an associate degree or bachelor's degree, they typically take a broad range of courses to fulfill their academic requirements. College differs from graduate school in several ways, including coursework load and structure. Students in college generally take courses outside of their major area to fulfill their school's graduation requirements. Such courses may include elective studies or coursework in an unrelated field. A student who is pursuing a bachelor's degree in English, for example, may need to take one or more sciences courses to graduate. Because an associate degree takes less time to complete, students usually have a smaller course load requirement than students pursuing four-year bachelor's degrees. Associate degrees are popular choices for students who are entering professions where some college training is preferred or required but not necessarily to the extent that a formal, four-year program provides. Associate degrees, just like bachelor's degrees, can be completed traditionally on a campus. Depending on the area of study, students may also be able to earn their degrees online.
Graduate schools, in contrast, have a much more narrow area of focus. Students generally enroll in graduate schools with the intent of doing more research in their field of study or for advancing their skills and knowledge so that they can reach the next level of their profession. Students who enroll in graduate school can earn either a master's degree or doctoral degree, which is the highest degree possible. Graduate programs may be academic in nature, which means that they are focused primarily on research, or they can be related to a particular profession or field of study, such as a law degree or medical degree. While students at undergraduate institutions usually have a well-rounded academic curriculum, students in graduate programs take courses devoted to their particular area of interest.
Graduate school programs are also usually more academically rigorous than undergraduate college courses, and students are expected to have a higher course load. Students earning a master's degree typically get one of two types of degrees. As with the prerequisite bachelor's degree, the Master of Arts degree prepares a student for work in a profession in the humanities or social science fields. A student who earns a Master of Science generally advances his or her career in the fields of the physical sciences. A doctoral degree program is usually more involved than a master's degree program. While students generally earn a master's degree in two or three years, a doctoral degree can take as long as five to eight years.