Get Inspired to Pursue an Online Bachelor’s Degree with Our Complete Guide

Of the millions of people that decide to go to college each year, many of them will be going to earn a bachelor’s degree. Earning a bachelor’s degree can often be a stressful experience, as certain terminology and types of programs can get confusing. This doesn’t have to be the case. In this guide, you can learn everything there is to know about earning a bachelors degree, from how much it costs to attending online bachelor degree programs, and everything in between.

What Exactly is a Bachelor’s Degree?

A bachelors degree is awarded to those who complete several years of classes as a part of an undergraduate program. It can be awarded as a part of several different majors or courses of study. Unlike an associate degree or certifications, which focus on vocational and technical training, bachelor’s degree programs tend to focus heavily on academics. While the former tend to be more hands-on, bachelor’s programs require much classroom studying and also require core academic classes in addition to those specific to your chosen major. This includes taking basic English and math courses regardless of your major.

What types of Bachelor’s Degrees are Available?

In general, there are two basic types of bachelor’s degrees available depending on what major you choose. This includes a Bachelor of Arts, or BA degree, and a Bachelor of Science, or BS degree. A Bachelor of Arts degree is awarded for majors that focus mostly on the study of liberal arts, which includes language studies, history, literature and social sciences. A Bachelor of Science degree is awarded for majors that are primarily focused on highly mathematical or scientific studies, such as computer sciences, engineering and certain mathematics programs.

Several less common types of bachelor’s degrees exist as well. In general, these are highly specific and may not be available at every college or university. A selection of these types of degrees includes:

  • BFA, or Bachelor of Fine arts, awarded for performing arts such as acting and music.
  • BBA, or Bachelor of Business Administration.
  • BASc, or Bachelor of Applied Science, for professional science degrees involving high specialization.
  • BArch, or Bachelor of Architecture.

Whatever type of bachelors degree you pursue, they all require the same core general education classes and take approximately the same amount of time to earn.

How Long Will Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Take?

For full-time students, a standard bachelors degree program will take four years to complete. Depending on whether your chosen college is divided into quarters or semesters, a standard bachelor’s degree requires 120 semester hours or 180 quarter hours to complete. The average student can accomplish this in four years, though it is possible to do so in a shorter period of time. Most colleges have a maximum allowable amount of hours to be taken per semester that is higher than the average needed to graduate in four years. By taking the maximum allowed every semester, it’s possible to obtain a bachelor’s degree in three years. Summer and winter special sessions are also typically available as well, and utilizing these options can lead to obtaining a bachelor’s degree much more quickly.

If you work full-time, however, you may need to attend college as a part-time student. In these cases, obtaining a bachelor’s degree will take significantly longer than a standard four years. Part-time students will typically take half the amount of classes a full-time student would per year, meaning it could take twice as long to obtain a degree. There are benefits to this as well, however, as a working student will typically need less financial aid to pay for school.

How Much Will a Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

The amount of money required to obtain a bachelor’s degree is almost entirely dependent on which university or college you attend. Private colleges, for instance, have significantly higher tuition costs than public institutions. As of 2011, the typical price of a bachelors degree from a private college is upwards of $25k per year, or more than $100,000 total over four years. A bachelor’s degree at a public college as of 2011 costs on average $6500 per year, or around $26,000 for a full four-year degree.

Luckily, there are many private and public financial aid options available for students to help offset these costs. The FAFSA, or Free Application for Financial Student Aid, allows students in the United States to apply for loans and grants based upon their income and dependency status. Other options for students include loans from different private lenders and banks, or work-study opportunities in their particular field.

Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Online

Many prospective college students are now turning to online bachelor degree programs for their education. In addition to generally being cheaper, online bachelor degree programs offer many benefits to students over traditional campuses. For one, online courses allow students to fit schooling around their schedule. Secondly, online programs allow students in rural areas to attend school without having to commute long distances. One of the biggest reasons online programs have become so popular is that they allow students to interact more closely with professors and other students. Whereas standard campuses may be overcrowded, online universities focus on small classes and high levels of communication.

Why is Earning a Bachelor’s Degree Important?

A bachelors degree is required for a wide variety of careers, and is generally considered a stepping-stone to earning more money. Several reports show that those that earn a bachelor’s degree will earn more than a million dollars more than those with only a high school education. Furthermore, a bachelor’s degree is required for those wishing to further educate themselves by obtaining a master’s degree or a doctorate.

Whether you attend a large university or one of several online bachelor degree programs, earning a bachelor’s degree is a worthwhile endeavor. From a better education to a better career, it all starts with a degree. Luckily, it is easier than ever for anyone to attend college regardless of their financial or living situation.

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Alison Slaughter

"If you want to get ahead, I recommend that you take online classes."


Anthony Reid

"I was worried about whether or not I was actually capable of going back to school and earning my bachelors degree after all these years. I was worried that things had changed so much that I wouldn’t be able to keep up, but she listened to my fears and encouraged me to try. And 2 years later, I have proven to myself that I am capable of doing it."


Carla Caraway

"Don’t jump into the first degree program that you find."


Charlene Opper

"I think it is important for all online students to stick with their program even if it seems overwhelming. One you get past that first class, you will develop a rhythm in your coursework and you will become more comfortable with the online format."


Chris Jablon

"I would tell other students that online learning is just as challenging as traditional learning."


Jason Culp

"I wanted to attend a school that allowed me to move through the program at my own pace and not have to rely on other students to complete an assignment."


Luciana Jones

"I think that students who want to succeed with this kind of structure and course materials need to practice self-discipline. In my experience, I have to make sure that I understand my assignments and schedule time to work on them or they will not get done. My education is my responsibility, and I will not finish if I get lazy."


Matt Takas

"A major strength of my digital forensics program is the exchange of ideas with fellow students. We have a class discussion forum where our teacher posts questions that require a response. The transfer of knowledge that occurs through those peer discussions in invaluable. Often, my peers will come up with an entirely new way to approach a problem that I would never have considered."


Melinda Johnson

"Studying online has allowed me to be fully present in my 5-year-old daughter’s life. I am able to do my coursework when she was asleep or at school, and I can take my computer with me if I am traveling out of town, so being an online student has not significantly impacted my life."


Molly LaFountain

"I had a wonderful advisor who I communicated with by phone and e-mail. He went out of his way to make sure that I was comfortable with all of my classes."


Sarah Steffey

"If you are looking into an online criminal justice degree, I recommend contacting schools that offer criminal justice programs and signing up to talk with their advisors."


Susan Stearns

"Do not begin an online program thinking that it will be easier to complete than a program at a brick-and-mortar institution."


Tamara Willis

"I decided to pursue a degree in early childhood education because I love working with children, and I want to do something that helps people."


Tara Hall

"An online program allows me to access coursework from my home, which is extremely convenient for my personal situation."


Terry Clampit

"The online learning environment doesn’t lend itself to face-to-face interactions with faculty or peers. It is more of a businesslike transaction of knowledge, so once I leave a class I doubt that I will communicate with my professors again. Even so, our professional relationship is great. They challenge me and provide useful feedback that helps me to succeed."


Toni Raymond

"I think that the best way to interact with your professors as an online student is to use the message board system. That way, the other students in your class can read your question as well as the teacher’s response."