March 14, 2016
You’re exploring job opportunities and learn that the majority of employers desire candidates with degrees. While some mention associate degrees and others, a bachelor’s, a few have offered the broader term: undergraduate degree. This may have led you to wonder, exactly, what is an undergraduate degree and what type of academic degrees fall under that term?
Read on to learn more about the different types of college degrees at this level.
An undergraduate degree is the first step in achieving higher education and consists of two specific types of degrees: an associate or bachelor’s degree. Let’s explore what’s involved with each – and what they mean for students and graduates of these degree programs.
If an undergraduate degree is your first step in higher education, consider the associate degree your gateway. If you’re hesitant about where to begin, Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) 60-credit online associate degree programs are a great place to start. You’ll not only get your feet wet academically, but you’ll build confidence with each course as you prepare for the career you want – and your experience in earning an online associate degree with SNHU may well inspire you to continue on to an online bachelor’s program.
What is an associate degree at SNHU? It may well be where you’ll realize your abilities and focus on new goals. Regardless of where you began your college experience – or if you haven’t yet had a chance to start – SNHU’s dedicated admission counselors, academic and career advisors, and faculty will offer you a chance to start fresh and see yourself succeed. The online associate degree programs are transfer friendly, meaning you’ll be able to save money and make the most of any prior learning credits you may have.
There are seven online associate degree programs at SNHU, which are broken out by Associate of Science and Associate of Arts. The online Associate of Arts in Liberal Arts allows you to strengthen your communication and critical-thinking skills. If you’re looking for entry-level employment in business, social services, administration or retail, this online degree can position you for ease in entry and the chance to move up in your career.
When it comes to online Associate of Science degree programs, you’ll have the option of pursuing an associate in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, fashion merchandising, information technologies or marketing.
The flexibility and access offered through SNHU’s online degree programs provides opportunities not available locally for many students. Consider Sadie Brown, who began her college experience with the goal of becoming an X-ray technician simply because there weren’t any schools in her home state of Montana with fashion merchandising degrees. Her heart, however, wasn’t in it.
“When I discovered SNHU, I was beyond happy to get started doing what I love,” said Brown. In her pursuit of an online AS in Fashion Merchandising, she was able to fulfill a dream and combine her passion for fashion with a business-focused education in a field that interested her most. The program prepares her for entry-level careers in buying, visual merchandising, sales and vendor relations in retail or wholesale environments.
“Everyone should be able to achieve their goals. It is important to be happy and successful in whatever you do. I love working my way up in the retail world thanks to SNHU’s AS in Fashion Merchandising. SNHU is making my dreams come true,” she said.
What is an associate degree for Megan Collins? Earning an AS in Business Administration online at SNHU is the impetus she needed to move up the ladder in the banking world, where she now works, or toward one day owning a business.
This mom of four was inspired by her husband’s journey toward a master’s degree, in his desire to move beyond the classroom to an administration position in the education field. She started researching schools. “In the past, I did try another online school that was very complicated and wasn’t user-friendly. While searching, I came across some reviews for online colleges,” said Collins. “SNHU had the best reviews out of every school on that list.”
Once she enrolled, her advisor proved to be “totally amazing. She made me excited about being back in school and she truly did care – it wasn’t something you’d read from a script – she was very genuine,” Collins said.
While some choose to simply complete an associate program, it’s important to consider that this achievement is also the halfway point in completing a bachelor’s degree – why stop now?
Such was the case for Jennifer LaBruno, a high school dropout and then a single mom, who made great money tending bar on South Beach in Florida. She thought, “I make more than the average professional. I don’t need an education.”
But by the time she turned 27, she started thinking about her future – and her son’s. “He deserves a professional and educated mother,” said LaBruno. “So, while working full time, I decided it was time to get my GED and get a degree.”
Her husband is a business owner, and she wanted to learn more so she could assist with financial work. LaBruno began reading accounting books and developed a passion for the subject matter. She earned an associate degree from a local community college and thought she’d take a break from school when she saw an SNHU commercial and decided to inquire. She enrolled in an online Bachelor of Science in Accounting and began her coursework just three weeks later.
As an entrepreneur, wife, homemaker, mother, chef, student and bookkeeper/tax preparer, LaBruno said that it wouldn’t have been possible to earn her degree had it not been for the flexibility and success-driven plan that SNHU created for her, the student.
Laurie Morgan married right out of high school and soon became a stay-at-home mom. She always regretted that she hadn’t continued her education. When her marriage ended, Morgan decided she would no longer live with regrets. “I wanted to make the best possible life for my children – and me,” she said. “Going back to work as a newly single mom and taking on school was not an easy transition, but it was important to me, so I made it work.”
She began working part time preparing taxes and enrolled online with SNHU to complete her Associate of Science in Accounting. Before finishing that degree program, Morgan was able to land a new job and decided to continue her studies online with SNHU, working toward her BS in Business Studies with a concentration in Organizational Leadership. Her professional life advanced along with her studies, leading from customer service associate to the role of a supervisor overseeing her organization’s new hire program.
Morgan’s not ready to stop there. She’s currently working toward her MS in Operations & Project Management. So, what is an associate degree to Morgan? It was the end of regret and the beginning of working toward her goals – and she continues to build off her early success as she creates and works toward new goals.
When you consider a college degree, a bachelor’s degree is what comes to mind – even if you’re not all that familiar with the term "bachelor’s." This is generally what a student would acquire at a four-year traditional university. For many with a desire to return to school, it’s just not possible to commit to being a full-time on-campus student, which is why online bachelor’s degree programs, like those at SNHU, can make a tremendous difference in allowing you to complete your degree.
How long will it take? That’s entirely up to you and what works for your own personal schedule as a student. What is a bachelor’s degree, in terms of the courses needed and credits earned? You’ll need to complete about 40 undergraduate courses, which translates to 120 credits. Typically an undergraduate degree program encompasses general education, often known as liberal arts courses, to offer a solid across-the-board foundation, along with specialized courses directly related to your chosen program of study.
Whether you’re starting fresh, or hoping to transfer past college credits, at SNHU you’ll have more than 100 online bachelor’s degree programs to choose from. Broken out by Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science programs, you’ll have the support and resources you need to succeed throughout your online program.
If you do have transfer credits to consider, it’s important to note that SNHU accepts up to 90 credits from prior learning toward a bachelor’s degree – and its admission team is proactive in finding the right program to take advantage of those credits as well as your own personal aspirations.
Like many, Arlene Armas ’14 started college fresh out of high school, but wasn’t able to see it through at that time. After working in the education field for many years, she felt it was finally time to go back to school and finish her degree. She couldn’t see herself, however, attending a traditional brick-and-mortar school. Armas began looking for an online program in the arts, preferably in graphic design. She soon found SNHU.
“From the moment I chatted with my first academic advisor, I really felt SNHU was the place for me,” she said. “If you need enthusiastic and supportive individuals to help motivate you, look no further than Southern New Hampshire University. Their academic advising team is truly terrific.” Armas was also able to transfer all of her prior college credits – and took advantage of a portfolio course that allowed her to take life and work experiences and have them translated into college credits.
Located 1,500 miles away from SNHU’s Manchester, NH, campus, Armas didn’t think she’d be able to attend commencement. With the support of her family, though, she was able to go and she even took her 83-year-old mother along so she could experience firsthand the pride of seeing her daughter attain her goal. “My husband and children – my support system throughout my studies – were so happy to see me in my cap and gown,” said Armas, who also got to meet some of her academic advisors at graduation and enjoy a photo opp with SNHU’s mascot, Petey the Penman.
“I now belong to the SNHU Alumni Association, one which has been in existence for over 80 years,” she said. “It is so comforting to know that this university is so rich in tradition and not just an ‘online school.’ Like I tell my friends and family, it is a traditional university with an excellent online program.”
What is a bachelor’s degree for Armas? It’s been a door opener. Upon completion of her degree, she was offered a professional position in her workplace. “This promotion has opened many doors, and I know my degree played a huge role in obtaining it,” she said. “I started on the right track, veered off for a little while, but got back on and finished the race. First or last, sooner or later, it’s never too late to cross that finish line.”
Angela Roundtree also believes that it’s never too late to learn. As a mother of three and grandmother of eight, Roundtree always wanted to write – “to tell stories” – but she held back because she didn’t have the necessary skills to become a successful writer.
She had been looking at different schools, checking out the curricula of various programs, but the hours just weren’t convenient for her. “These schools were not web-based,” Roundtree said. “Then there was SNHU with the advertisement on television that I saw numerous times. The desire to continue school was strong, so I began to rationalize in my mind to take a chance.”
Roundtree said that once you start each class and plan school into your daily life, you can easily complete the required hours of study. As for the courses themselves – “You cannot just breeze through; you must absorb the classes,” she said. “By no means is this easy. It is very challenging, but a challenge worth taking. To be able to fill that blank 8½ by 11 with sound thoughts is so very satisfying to me.”
She has good instructors, who constructively let her know if she is on the mark with her writing. What is a bachelor’s degree to Roundtree? She said, “This is only the beginning of my journey.” Upon completion of her online Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English, she’s got a new goal: writing a book. Roundtree has stories to tell – and she’ll be ready to start telling them.
Derick Johnson ’14 tried to get his degree for many years, beginning at a community college before life intervened and he had to stop. Fast forward many years, and he knew he had to return to school. He looked at several schools before coming across SNHU online. “After contact with an admissions specialist, I decided on SNHU,” said Johnson. “This is the best choice I ever made.”
While he originally started with an online general studies bachelor’s program, Johnson began to look at other online programs and asked his academic advisor about the public administration program. After some discussion and further reading, Johnson switched his academic program and was pleased with this new choice. “The program combines community economic development, sociology and government courses, which makes a well-rounded course of study,” he said. “Because I have obtained a BA in Public Administration, the possibilities that are open to me are unlimited.”
What is a bachelor‘s degree for Johnson? It began as a path simply to degree completion and ended with brand-new career aspirations.
If you’ve long wondered if it makes sense to earn your degree – consider the differences pursuing an online associate or bachelor’s degree has made in the lives of the students and graduates above. From saying goodbye to regrets to setting an example for your children – as well as finding success in the workplace and discovering new career aspirations, there’s a multitude of reasons to consider a return to school or, finally, the start of an online degree program.
Regardless of how busy your life is, there’s an opportunity for flexible, affordable access to an online program at SNHU that best meets your personal interests and goals. Why not look today and see where an associate or bachelor’s degree can take you?
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