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Career Center

What is a Bachelor's Degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year degree. It typically takes four years of full-time study to earn a bachelor’s degree. In these four years, you will complete 120 semester credits or about 40 college courses.

If your college uses a quarter system rather than a semester system, you’ll need to complete a minimum of 180 quarter credits to earn an accredited bachelor’s degree.

In most cases, more than half of a bachelor’s degree consists of general education or liberal arts courses in areas such as English, critical thinking, psychology, history and mathematics.

Typically only 30 to 36 credits—10 to 12 courses—will be in your major area of study. Regionally accredited liberal arts colleges award most of the bachelor’s degrees in the United States.

Historically, the term “college degree” meant a bachelor’s or traditional four-year degree. The bachelor’s degree remains the standard for entry into many professional careers.

In most cases, you cannot attend a professional graduate school in law, medicine, or teacher education unless you hold a bachelor’s degree.

When You …

• Know that a bachelor’s degree is required for your career
• Have already earned more than 60 semester college credits or hold at least one associate degree.
• Know that a graduate or professional degree will be required for your career.

TIP: Some careers may require a very specific type of bachelor’s degree. For example, if your goal is to become a public school teacher your state Board of Education will require, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree in education —and that degree will need to include some very specific courses. Check with your state licensing board before enrolling in any bachelor’s degree program in accounting, education, nursing, counseling and engineering, in particular.

TIP: Should you earn a second bachelor’s degree? In most cases, the answer is NO. If you have a bachelor’s in one area—say art history—and are trying to re-tool to work in another area, such as human resources, consider adding a certificate to your resume rather than trying to earn a second bachelor’s degree. By earning a certificate you’ll essentially be adding a new “major” area of study to the general education studies of your original bachelor’s degree.

Basically, a bachelor’s degree looks like an associate degree doubled.

Below is a sample bachelor's degree so you can see the type of curriculum commonly required. Colleges will vary in their exact degree requirements. Compare colleges carefully on the courses they will require you to take to earn your bachelor's degree in any one major area.

UW-Platteville logo

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with Finance Emphasis and Accounting Minor


Competency Requirements (11 credits)
English Composition (6)
Speech Communication (2)
Mathematics of Finance (3)

Liberal Arts Requirements (36 - 39 credits)
• Fine Arts (Art, Music or Theater), Humanities (Literature, Foreign Language, Philosophy or Women's Studies), and Historical Perspective (History) (12 credits)
• Social Sciences (includes Economics, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Cultural Geography, Women's Studies, Criminal Justice)(9)
—Principles of Macroeconomics (3)
—Principles of Microeconomics (3)
—Introduction to Criminal Justice (3)
• Natural Science (9)
(Must take courses from at least two disciplines, including Astronomy, Physics, Geology, Geography, Biology; each course must involve a laboratory experience.)
• International Education (3)
—Global Business (3)
• Ethnic & Gender Studies (3 to 6)
—Management, Gender and Race (3)

Business Administration Major Requirements:

Required Courses (45 credits)

Financial Accounting (3 credits)
Management Accounting (3)
Accounting Issues for Managers (3)
Global Business (3)
Leadership and Management (3)
Introduction to Marketing (3)
Human Resource Management (3)
Legal Environment of Business (3)
Financial Management (3)
Business Policy/Strategy (3)
Microcomputer Applications (3)
Business Communication (3)
Principles of Macroeconomics (3)
Principles of Microeconomics (3)

Business Area of Emphasis/Finance - 15 credits

Investments (3)
Financial Decision Making (3)
Elective (9)
Agricultural Commodity Marketing (3)
Managerial Law (3)
Principles of Real Estate
Personal Financial Planning
Risk Management
Financial Systems Analysis
Bank Management
Security Analysis
Money and Banking

Accounting Minor (24 credits)
Financial Accounting (3)
Management Accounting (3)
Intermediate Accounting I (3)
Federal Income Tax (3)
Cost Accounting (3)
Intermediate Accounting II
Advanced Accounting I
Budgets and Budgetary Control (3)

For more information about other schools with online bachelor's degree programs, search's complete database of online bachelor's degree programs.

Find online Bachelor's Degrees now. >>

What is a Certificate or Diploma?

What is an Associate Degree?
What is a Master's Degree?
What is a Doctorate Degree?

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