Going Back to College: Getting
(Continued from 1)
Once you have defined your educational goals, you can
determine the program of study:
A certificate signifies the completion of a specialized
number of courses, generally required for vocational
or technical training.
An associate's degree is generally the completion of
two years of full-time academic study or a total of
60 semester credit hours. Associate of Arts (A.A.) and
Associate of Science (A.S.) degrees are often offered
by community and junior colleges.
A bachelor's degree generally comprises the completion
of four years of full-time academic study, or a total
of 120 semester credit hours. A Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
is generally a degree in one of the humanities, while
a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) is a degree in one of the
A master's degree is the completion of one to two years
of full-time academic study beyond the bachelor's degree.
For example, a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Master of
Science (M.S.) degree.
Ed.D., Ph.D. or Doctorate.
One of the highest level of academic study. A Ph.D or
Doctor of Philosophy is generally based on at least
three years of graduate study and the completion of
a dissertation. An Ed.D. is a Doctor of Education, and
requires at least three years of graduate education
in specialized study, as well as a a major research
When you have determined your program of study,
decide which school you will attend.
Community, Junior, and Vocational Colleges.
and junior colleges usually offer two-year degree programs
that enable student's to earn an associate degree. The
associate degree can then be transfered to a four-year
college toward a bachelor's degree. Community colleges
also offer certificate programs or workforce development
job training in preparation for the job market. They
are generally less expensive than four- year colleges
and have less stringent admissions requirements. Vocational
colleges provide a variety of training opportunities
in fields such as technology, business, culinary arts,
cosmetology, graphic and fashion design, paralegal training,
and health and medical training.
Four-Year Colleges and Universities (Public and
Four-year colleges and universities offer four year
degree programs that enable students to attain a bachelor's
degree in wide variety of disciplines. They also often
offer graduate degree programs that lead to a master's,
doctorate, or professional degree. Universities are
generally larger than colleges and often emphasize more
scholarly or scientific research. Generally, the larger
the school, the larger the class size, with some classes
being taught by graduate students.
- Public colleges and universities are subsidized
by the state they are located in and are generally less
expensive than private colleges, although they may have
less financial aid available. Non-resident students
may have to pay higher rates.
- Private colleges are funded through endowments,
tuition, and other private sources. Tuition is usually
higher than a public school, but larger financial aid
options may be offered to offset the cost of tuition.
Private schools are often smaller than public insitutions,
with smaller class sizes, offering more personalized
attention to students.
You can begin your search in our
Degree Programs section. There may be several schools
that offer the program you are interested in. Research
colleges and universities to find the best program for
you, whether it is a traditional campus-based program,
a campus and distance education program, or a full distance
degree. Find out if any local colleges or universities
offer the program, and if classes are available at a
convenient time. Many schools offer accelerated programs,
night or weekend classes, and distance learning opportunities.
Classes may be offered through television broadcast,
correspondence, the Internet, or other multi-media.
Many adults prefer a blended approach, by taking some
classes online and others on the campus.
You'll also need to determine how many of your prior
credits will transfer to the school and if the college
provides credit for examination or prior learning. (For
more information, see How
to Accelerate Your Degree Plan and Getting