Which Degree Comes First in College?

Judging from the level of education, there are three stages of education in the US. The three are elementary school/intermediate school, middle school / junior high school, and high school /senior high school. That quietly describes how education works in America. There is also a preschool, but that is just a beginning and does not count as the main school. In another way, America’s traditional educational path starts from compulsory, higher, to vocational education, and those are a process of getting a graduation degree in college. 

Three-phase that has been prepared for students before they all enter the world after school (job applicants). And from these levels, we all knew that terms of quality knowledge, skills, etc. mostly are better when you have a graduation degree in college than just stopping at the senior high school. 

Those degrees from the college have their arrangements. In this article, we’re going to find out more pieces of information related to the degree in college.

Which Degree Comes First in College?

Types of Degree in College

Generally, there are four types of graduate degrees in the U.S., and all four have different kinds of characteristics in the process of study. 

Associate Degree

The first one is the associate degree, which has at least 2 years or even more of length in the process of study. With a total of approximately around 60 credits, the associate degree teaches basic knowledge and technical skills, as well as transferable skills before students enter the workforce, or continue their education to the next level. These degrees are provided by community colleges, technical colleges, vocational schools, and some other colleges, as well as at some universities. Usually, this program is taken by students who are working while studying, and not a few companies are interested in using the services of this degree. 

  • This degree is also divided into 4 parts, namely:
  • AS (Associate of Science)
  • AA (Associate of Arts)
  • AAA (Associate of Applied Arts)
  • AAS (Associate of Applied Science)

Bachelor’s Degree

A degree that has at least 4 years of study, consists of 120 credits and it’s provided by private and public colleges and universities. This program provides insight and knowledge that is useful as a provision in certain fields depending on each student’s choice (Science, Art, Social, engineering, etc.) and contains both theory and practice in approximately 4 years of study. In simple terms, this program is prepared more intensely (than the associate degree) for students as a requirement to continue to the next undergraduate or work in a company.

There are several types of bachelor’s degrees.

  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)
  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Master’s Degree

Masters Degree

A Master’s Degree means an academic qualification awarded at the postgraduate level to individuals who have completed high-level studies in a particular field of study or field of professional practice. In a nutshell, this degree is a reinforcement of the previous level. Having the length of study in about 1-2 years, this degree is having approximately 30-40 credits. 

To apply for this program, a student must finish a bachelor’s degree first.  For information, this program is combining more than just theories and practice, but also the research requirement, coursework, and projects. 

Doctoral Degree

Last but not least, a doctoral degree is the highest level of education among these four types. It has a deadline of 2-10 years and a varying number of credits to achieve this degree. Similar to a master’s degree, the student must have those degrees to apply for this degree. For some specific jobs, it needs a doctoral degree as a requirement. 

The Differences Among Them

Types of degreeAssociateBachelorMasterDoctoral
Length1-3 years3-5 years1-3 years2-10 years
Number of Credits6012030-40Varies
Basic RequirementFinished the Senior High School with a certain scoreFinished the Senior High School with a certain scoreHaving a bachelor’s degree with a certain GPAHaving a master’s degree with a certain GPA

Which One is Better? All Those are Worth it? 

When you’re talking about the quality of all those four degrees, it may come to your mind that the doctoral has the best quality rather than the rest of the three. Indeed, it is true that the doctoral degree may have the highest position with its component. You may notice that a student with an associate degree could not apply to a job that needs require a master’s or even doctoral degree. But the thing is, not everyone could afford the cost of those degrees. Some people could only afford the associate due to limited cost and time; some people could afford a bachelor’s degree only without continuing to master’s or doctoral. 

Well, from this case I can say that the rest of the two degrees is quite special because compared to associate and bachelor’s, it’s much more complicated and not easy to apply for. That is why the cost and the other stuff of this are more expensive rather than the rest of the two. It is a good thing if you have the desire and money to continue your study to the next level. Otherwise, you could look for scholarships to make it easier for you.

Can A Degree Determine the Type of Work in the Future?

From the explanation above, generally, an educational degree can indeed determine the type of work in the future. As I mentioned before, you may notice that a student with an associate degree could not apply to a job that needs require a master’s or even doctoral degree. The reason is that all those kinds of jobs require a higher degree in that aspect. So, it is not possible that you will get accepted without completing that particular requirement. 

Anyway, in other cases that happen nowadays, some prominent companies such as Google and Apple are hiring employees who have the skills required to get jobs done, with or without a degree. You don’t need a doctoral degree or even an associate degree to apply for this job as long as you have skills that are needed as the requirement. 


In conclusion, systematically it is an associate’s and a bachelor’s degree that comes first in college due to its requirement, followed by the master’s and doctoral degrees. As you can notice the requirement of that two first degrees is to finish your senior high school with a certain score. The differences are only in the length of the study. After finishing the bachelor’s degree, you can proceed to the next stages which are master’s and doctoral degrees.

The thing is, you have to make sure what are you going to study, or the purpose you take those educational degrees. Whether it’s for work, being an expert, or just wanting to have those degrees.  No matter what your degree is, you still have to master some other skills in this modern era.