Higher Education

An adult education program and the diploma or General Educational Development (GED) credential it leads to can open a number of doors. In fact, a diploma from an adult diploma or a GED not only can help you obtain a job, but can also help you pursue the higher education that you need to begin a specialized career or advance to a better position within your current career. Let’s examine your options for higher degrees beyond basic adult education.

Associate’s Degree


An associate’s degree is a degree that a community college, a college, or an undergraduate program at a university issues to an individual who has completed all of the necessary courses that are required to understand the basics in a specific field. An associate’s degree can be extremely helpful if you’re looking for an entry-level position in a career that requires only some basic knowledge to start out, but there are a few things that you should know about an associate’s degree before you pursue one.

  • An associate’s degree may be able to help you obtain an entry-level position in some careers, but it will not help you obtain an entry-level position in every career. This is because some careers require more knowledge that an associate’s degree program can give you, and you will need another type of degree to enter these careers.
  • In order to earn your associate’s degree, you will typically need to complete a two-year program. This is important because a college education can be very expensive, and the more time you spend in college, the more expensive it will be. An associate’s degree program, however, is shorter than a bachelor’s degree program, a master’s degree program, or a PhD program, and so it is usually much less expensive. So you may want to consider an associate’s degree program if time or money is an issue.
  • The entrance requirements for an associate’s degree program are typically less difficult to meet than the requirements for another type of degree program. You will typically be able to get into an associate’s degree program if you have a diploma or a GED and average SAT or ACT scores. You may want to consider an associate’s degree program if you don’t have the academic background that you need to get into a bachelor’s degree program.
  • Finally, if you’re having trouble getting into a bachelor’s degree program, an associate’s degree program may not only be able to help you obtain the academic background that you need, but may also be able to help you earn some of the credits that you will need to obtain your bachelor’s degree. Many colleges and universities will actually accept some or all of the courses that you took for your associate’s degree as a substitute for some of the courses that the bachelor’s degree program would typically require you to take.

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is a degree that a college or university issues to an individual who has completed all of the basic courses and all of the intermediate courses that are required in order to have a full understanding of a specific field. A bachelor’s degree is a requirement for an entry-level position or mid-level positions in a wide variety of careers. Here are some facts about bachelor’s degrees to keep in mind:

  • In many cases, a bachelor’s degree will help you obtain a better position and/or more money than an associate’s degree, but there are some careers that will require you to have more than a bachelor’s degree. Psychology careers, for example, almost always require at least a master’s degree, and there are many other careers where a bachelor’s degree by itself won’t qualify a person for employment..
  • You will usually need to spend at least four years earning a bachelor’s. For working people, it can take much longer. This means that a bachelor’s degree program is typically quite a bit more expensive than an associate’s degree program.
  • The entrance requirements for a bachelor’s degree program are typically more difficult to meet than the requirements for an associate’s degree program. Very few schools or programs offering associate’s degrees can be considered selective. While some of these programs may get applications from a few more students than they have space for, the number of students denied admission is very low, and for most programs, it’s close to zero. Many bachelor’s programs, however, are quite selective, which means that a person will need stronger test scores and high school grade point averages to qualify. This doesn’t mean you can’t enter a bachelor’s program with a GED. You can, it’s just that you probably won’t get into Harvard of Yale with only a GED. But you can certainly be admitted to many fine colleges and universities, assuming you meet their other admissions standards.
  • A bachelor’s degree may be required for some of the certifications, degrees, and/or licenses that you may need in your chosen career. This is above and beyond any requirements employers might have regarding degrees.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree is a graduate level degree, meaning that it is earned after a person has already earned a bachelor’s degree (associate’s and bachelor’s degrees are referred to as undregraduate level degrees). Possessing a master’s degree says that the person has achieved a level of knowledge on a particular subject that it can be described as mastery. Also, generally speaking, a master’s degree program is much more specialized and focused on one particular area than a bachelor’s program is. Here are some more things to keep in mind when it comes to master’s degrees:

  • While a master’s degree will qualify you for most jobs in most career fields, there are some positions where a master’s degree is not enough. College and university professors, for example, are generally required to have a doctoral degree before they’re hired.
  • You will typically need to spend two years completing a master’s program. A few programs require less than two years, while some require more than two years (especially for working peoople), but two years is the average length. Not only is this a significant time commitment, it can also be expensive, as graduate programs usually cost more than undegraduate programs.
  • The entrance requirements for a master’s degree program are much more difficult to meet than the requirements for a bachelor’s degree program. In fact, one of the requirements for admission is possession of a bachelor’s degree. But the difficulty doesn’t stop there. Because of the intensive nature of graduate level study, there aren’t nearly as many slots available as there are for bachelor’s programs, but demand for graduate study is quite high. In other words, most graduate programs have many more applicants than spaces available, meaning that only the very best candidates will be admitted.
  • Finally, in some careers, even though you may not need a master’s degree to be hired, you might be required to hold one in order to be licensed and certified.

Doctoral Degree

A doctoral degree, or doctorate, is the highest degree given out by colleges and universities in the United States. The person who has earned a doctorate (usually a Ph.D) is considered to be an expert in his field, although his expertise is typically in one particular area of his field. Jobs that require doctoral degrees usually offer salaries quite a bit above the average. A PhD can be extremely helpful if you’re looking for a mid-level or an upper-level position in a career that requires an advanced knowledge of a field, or if you’re pursuing a career that requires you to have very specialized knowledge, such as psychologists, college professors, researchers, etc., but there are a few things that you should know about a doctoral degree before you pursue one.

  • While the Ph.D is the most common, it’s not the only doctoral level degree. For example, the medical field has the Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, the dental field has the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree and the Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM) degree, and the law field has the Juris Doctor (JD) degree.
  • In order to earn your doctorate, you will typically need to complete a four to eight year program, but some doctoral programs may take up to 10 years to complete. This is a massive time commitment, and a huge monetary expense.
  • Finally, doctoral programs are extremely competitive, or selective. Far more students apply than can be admitted. Not only is a bachelor’s degree necessary (a master’s is even better), but the college transcript should feature a very high grade point average, honors courses, independent study programs, etc., as much as possible.