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Master’s Vs. Bachelor’s Degree: What’s The Difference?

Higher education has the power to transform your life, but understanding the different types of degrees can be confusing. To help, let’s break down exactly what master’s vs bachelor’s degrees are.

When you go to a university, you can earn an undergraduate degree called a baccalaureate or a graduate degree called a master’s. The exact degrees offered vary from school to school, but there are some important differences between bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees that you should understand before you begin applying to colleges and universities.

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Explore environmental baccalaureate and master’s degree programs.

What Is A Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is an undergraduate degree typically earned after the completion of high school or GED. Most bachelor’s degree programs are four-year programs that include general education courses as well as specialized courses in a chosen academic major. Baccalaureate degrees are the foundational level of higher education. They equip students with the essential knowledge and skills needed to start a career in a particular field or further their studies by earning a graduate degree.

There are three main types of baccalaureate degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BS)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

How Long Does It Take To Get A Bachelor’s Degree?

Most bachelor’s degree programs take four years to complete. However, that is based on a full-time course load of at least 15 credits per semester. If you are working while in school, this could be difficult to maintain. At some schools, the average student takes five years to finish a baccalaureate program, and you can take longer if needed. A student attending college part-time may take six to eight years to complete their degree. 

For those unsure if a baccalaureate degree is the right choice for them due to the traditional timeline, at Unity Environmental University, our model is run on 5-week terms, not semesters. Terms allow students to get through the program much faster, and you can decide to take a break and continue at your own pace, allowing for more flexibility. Another shorter degree option is starting with pursuing an associate degree, which takes two years to complete on average before starting a career.

Do I need a bachelor’s to get a master’s? Yes, you do! Luckily, you can earn a degree online on your own schedule with flexible start dates and rolling admissions.

What Is A Master’s Degree?

A master’s degree is an advanced level of postgraduate study that allows students to specialize further in a specific field of study or professional practice. A master’s degree may be needed for career advancement depending on your field and position. Certain roles may require a very specialized education. A master’s degree or Ph.D. is also required for jobs doing academic research or teaching at the college level.

There are many types of master’s degrees including but not limited to:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MS)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Social Work (MSW) 
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)

It’s common for people to want to study something different than they are studying in undergrad. Maybe you were young and studying what your parents wanted you to, or maybe your interests changed. This leads many college graduates to wonder, can I get a master’s degree in another field? And the answer is yes, you can! You may need to take some prerequisite courses in your new area of study, but policies vary by institution and program.

How Long Does It Take To Get A Master’s Degree?

The timeframe for completing a master’s degree is usually one to two years. However, like with baccalaureate degrees, you may need longer to complete your degree if you are only studying part-time. Some graduate students may conduct longer thesis research or fieldwork and need additional time after completing their core coursework before they graduate.

At Unity Environmental University, our Master’s programs work on 8-week terms, allowing flexible starts and breaks. If you are already a Unity baccalaureate student and are applying to one of our Master’s programs, we provide individualized coaching and advising through the application and enrollment process to provide you an easy transition..

Can You Get A Masters Without A Bachelor’s?

It is not possible to earn a master’s degree from an accredited university in the US without first holding a qualifying bachelor’s degree.

While applying for a Master’s program, make sure to refer to the university’s admission and pre-requisite requirements. At Unity Environmental University, you need to have a baccalaureate and either 

  1. have a minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 2.75 or higher; or
  2. have earned a minimum grade of B (3.0) in at least 6 credits of Master’s level courses from an accredited institution.

There are a few exceptions if you do not meet either of these two Master’s admission requirements.

Boost your career with a completely online master’s degree from Unity Environmental University.

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The Difference Between Undergraduate And Graduate Degrees

The biggest differences between a bachelor’s and master’s degree are the academic level (undergraduate vs graduate) and the depth of study. An undergraduate degree provides broad foundational knowledge. It’s a necessary precursor for the more specialized approach that graduate school takes. Because graduate degrees are advanced degrees, they typically open up more advanced career pathways, including management and research roles.

It takes about 120 credit hours to earn a baccalaureate degree versus only 45 credits for a master’s degree. Therefore, master’s programs often only take two years to complete versus four years for a bachelor’s degree. While the per credit cost of bachelor’s degrees is usually lower than it is for master’s degrees, master’s degrees need fewer credits to graduate, so they could be less costly overall.

Unity Environmental University has flexible terms, allowing you to graduate much faster on average. You can take 2 courses (3 credits) per term. With our baccalaureate programs being 8 terms per year, you can max at 48 credits per year. With 120 credits needed to graduate, you can graduate as quickly as 2.5 years. 

Our Graduate programs are the same. You can take 2 courses per term with 5 terms per year. That means you can take 30 credits per year max, allowing you to graduate in less than a year and a half.

Whether you are interested in a bachelor’s or a master’s, learn how to make your degree more affordable.

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Bachelor’s Vs. Master’s: Which One Is Right For You?

To determine if a bachelor’s degree vs master’s is right for you, think about your long-term career goals and research the educational requirements for your ideal job. Consider the time commitment and cost of graduate vs undergraduate school. Using data online, you can estimate how much income you can earn over your lifetime if you have a master’s degree vs a bachelor’s degree. This will vary by industry and specific roles, but generally, workers with a master’s degree earn more than those with only a bachelor’s.

Because a baccalaureate degree is a prerequisite for a master’s, the question isn’t actually master’s vs bachelor’s. Instead, the question is whether it’s worth it to pursue a master’s degree after you finish undergraduate school. Not sure if a master’s degree is right for you? Discover the benefits of going to grad school

Environmental Bachelor Programs At Unity Environmental University

Unity Environmental University’s bachelor’s programs focus on equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed to address contemporary environmental challenges. We use a unique approach to environmental studies that includes social sustainability and cultural competence in our programs. Below are some of our bachelor’s degree programs and potential career options for graduates with that degree.

Environmental Master Programs At Unity Environmental University

When you choose Unity Environmental University for your master’s degree, you get access to specialized research opportunities, expert faculty, and the skills needed to make a major impact on the world’s environmental challenges. The programs below cater to those looking to deepen their expertise or pivot their career toward environmental advocacy and sustainability.

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Earn An Environmental Bachelor’s Or Master’s Degree Online At Unity Environmental University

Before applying to college, it’s vital to understand the differences between an undergraduate degree vs graduate degree. In undergraduate school, students earn a baccalaureate degree, usually in four years. Graduate school students earn a master’s degree which usually takes two years. A high school diploma or GED is required for admission to undergraduate school, and a baccalaureate degree is required for admission to graduate school. 

Unity Environmental University offers baccalaureate and master’s degree programs that can be completed online and come with built-in career development support for all students. You can earn a degree at your own pace with our flexible term starts. The fastest you can earn a baccalaureate in 2.5 years and a Master’s in 1.5 years. Financial aid is also available at the undergraduate and graduate levels so that you do not have to worry about whether you can afford a bachelor’s vs master’s degree only.