What Are Education Levels?

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A person’s education level indicates the highest grade that has been finished or the top degree that has been achieved. This is likely to change during an individual’s life, and it does not represent any schooling that is currently in progress.

In the U.S., some people’s educational levels are between kindergarten and grade 12. Although it is possible to specify the level, such as “grade 6,” if high school was not completed, the status is often identified as “less than a high school diploma.” If grade 12 was finished and formal education stopped, the level is “high school graduate, no college.”

If education was pursued beyond high school, several designations are possible. If college was attended but not completed, the level is “some college, no degree.” Finishing a two-year program is identified as an “Associate’s degree.” Sometimes this is also tagged with the distinction “occupational” or “academic.” A four-year program earns the designation “Bachelor’s degree.”

Graduate work has several levels, as well. The first is “Master’s degree.” This is typically a two-year full-time program, but it takes longer for part-time study. A “Doctoral degree” indicates a graduate from a doctor of philosophy, or Ph.D., program. At the “professional degree” level, graduate work has been completed in any one of a number of fields, such as medicine, pharmacology, dentistry, veterinary medicine or chiropractic.