Accounting is one of the few careers that is still showing growth in this recessionary economy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the accounting field is expected to grow by 20% or more (much faster than average) through 2018. Earning an accounting degree is therefore an excellent investment in your future.
Associate’s degrees in accounting are two-year degrees designed to quickly prepare students for entry-level jobs as bookkeepers or account clerks; these degrees can also act as a foundation for transfer to a four-year college. Associate’s programs can be found at most community colleges and technical schools, as well as some colleges and universities. Courses required for an associate’s degree in accounting include basic science, business communications, math, technology, and writing, in addition to the expected courses in accounting and finance. To improve your job prospects, it is recommended that you choose a program that offers a strong background in accounting information systems and that you become as proficient as possible with accounting software.
A bachelor’s degree is the basic required level of education for most jobs in the professional world, as well as a requirement of attending all graduate schools. A bachelor’s degree in accounting is also a prerequisite for taking the Certified Public Accountant (CPA) exam in most states. Most bachelor’s degree programs are designed to be completed in four years. The first two years of a bachelor’s degree program in accounting will usually include basic and intermediate accounting, history, humanities, literature, math, science, and writing classes. The last two years will usually focus on specialized classes in auditing, business management, economics, finance, governmental and managerial accounting, and taxation.
A master’s degree in accounting makes you eligible to take the CPA exam, specialize in a particular area of the accounting field, or enhance your earning potential in the job market. A master’s degree in accounting can usually be completed in one year if you enroll in a full-time program, although you may also opt to earn it through a part-time or online program while working in the field. Master’s accounting degrees are available as a Master of Science, Master of Art, Master of Accounting (MAcc), or a Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in accounting.
A business degree can prepare you for a very broad range of careers. Besides the usual options such as marketing and management, business majors can also utilize their knowledge in many industries including government, healthcare, the arts, international commerce, and non-profit organizations. It is also a valuable investment if you are interested in working for yourself as an entrepreneur.
Recommended high school courses for students interested in a business degree include four years of English; two years of algebra, lab science, social studies, and a foreign language; and one year each of geometry and trigonometry.
Two-year associate’s degrees in business are available for students who are not able to pursue the traditional educational route toward an undergraduate degree. Since a bachelor’s degree is usually the minimum requirement for most entry-level professional jobs, however, it is best to use associate business degrees toward future transfer to a four-year college.
The coursework in a bachelor’s degree program in business is designed to give a thorough foundation in all of the functions that enable a business to operate successfully. The first two years of study will usually be devoted to general arts and science classes such as accounting, calculus, economics, oral and written communications, psychology or sociology, statistics, and technological skills such as spreadsheets, databases, and computer models. The last two years will bring courses in ethics, finance, marketing, operations management, organizational behavior, and social interaction, as well as specialized courses that focus on your specific business major. Students also usually analyze and propose solutions to actual business problems through case studies, as well as conduct statistical analysis, carry out market research, and prepare financial projections.
Most bachelor’s degree graduates prefer to seek immediate employment to gain practical work experience. However, those who wish to specialize in a certain area or enhance their earning potential in the future can choose to enter a two-year graduate school program, and earn a master’s degree in business, concentrating in such areas as business management, organizational management, or security management. Many Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs are designed for employed professionals who hope to be promoted to mid- or senior-level management.
Those who wish to become business teachers or consultants continue on to earn Doctor of Business Administration degrees, which usually involve short residencies. These residencies are often excellent opportunities to cultivate valuable contacts with faculty, business leaders, and classmates.
A communications degree is founded on the ancient disciplines of rhetoric and language, which are used to convey information and persuade an audience to accept a particular message. In today’s world, a communications degree can be used as an entry to countless careers in such fields as advertising, broadcasting, corporate communications, employee relations, film, journalism, marketing, photojournalism, public relations, and social media. It is an excellent degree choice for anyone with exceptional verbal and writing skills, a strong sense of curiosity, and an ability to understand and interpret information.
A two-year associate degree in communications is usually known as an Associate in Applied Science in Communication Arts; the main purpose is to prepare students for core liberal arts and science courses at a four-year college.
Four-year bachelor’s degrees can be earned in the general area of communications or in specialized subcategories of communications, such as journalism, media studies, advertising, or public relations. The field of communication is often considered part of both the social sciences and the humanities, so degrees at this level can be awarded as either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science, depending on the particular college or university.
Courses for a bachelor’s degree in communications can include general classes in critical thinking, English, marketing, organizational or mass communications, persuasion, political rhetoric, psychology, research methods, rhetorical criticism, and sociology. Depending on the area of communications in which you are specializing, you may also have courses in topics such as advertising; business management; crisis management; journalistic ethics; media law; public speaking; reporting and writing; and the technical aspects of mass media such as television, radio, newspapers, the Internet, and other digital communications.
At the master’s degree level, courses will usually include corporate leadership, interpersonal and cross-cultural communications, and organizational management. Master’s programs in this field may also focus on state-of-the-art technology in new forms of media, as well as on issues such as conflict solutions, multi-cultural diversity, and negotiation. Residencies may be required for a communications degree at this level.
Computer Science Degree
Computer science is another field that continues to grow even in tough economic times. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs based in computer science are expected to grow between 14%-20% through 2018.
The proliferation of technology in all areas of commerce means that graduates with a computer science degree will always be in demand, not only in the computer industry as information systems managers, programmers, systems analysts, and software engineers, but also in such industries as the financial sector, government, healthcare, and agriculture.
For students interested in this degree, the recommended high school courses in addition to computer science classes include calculus, chemistry, discrete mathematics, physics, statistics, and a foreign language.
Two-year associate’s degrees in computer science can help students get their foot in the door in entry-level jobs while also giving them excellent preparation for further education. Besides core courses in English, science, the arts, and the humanities, students earning an associate’s degree in this field also usually take classes in applied calculus, basic computer languages such as C++ and Java, databases, database management systems, data structures and algorithms, discrete mathematics, and introductory computer science.
Four-year bachelor’s degrees in computer science usually concentrate on the underlying theories and mathematical calculations that make up the basis of computing, instead of specific applications that may soon become obsolete in today’s ever-changing technological environment. Expected coursework for a Bachelor of Computer Science degree (BCS or BCompS) can vary since the field is so broad but usually includes algorithms, computer architecture, data structures, logic and computation, paradigms, and programming principles. Some bachelor’s programs emphasize the mathematical foundations of computer science, which usually means classes in advanced math such as calculus, differential equations, discrete mathematics, linear algebra, and probability and statistics.
Those who wish to specialize even further usually go on to earn a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT), which can take from one to three years to complete. These advanced degrees can focus on areas of computer science such as software engineering and development, software testing, computer programming, or computer security. Courses for a master’s degree in computer science can include algorithm design and analysis, artificial intelligence, databases, distributed systems, information theory, numerical computation, operating systems, software engineering, and visual computing.
Criminal Justice Degree
As long as crime remains a major issue in society, there will always be a demand for law enforcement officials. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for most law enforcement officials is expected to grow by about 10% (as fast as average for all occupations) through 2018.
A criminal justice degree can prepare you not only for a career as a police officer or detective, but also for many other behind-the-scenes jobs that are available in this line of work such as corrections facilities guards, court administrators and clerks, probation and parole officers, private security guards, and social workers.
Two-year associate’s degrees in criminal justice are available at most community colleges. In fact, associate’s degrees in criminal justice were the most popular of all associate’s degrees awarded in the United States as of October 2007. This is mainly because most law enforcement agencies now insist on applicants having at least some college credit to be eligible for employment. Associate’s degrees in criminal justice will prepare graduates for immediate entry-level positions in law enforcement, the court system, corrections facilities, juvenile agencies, or private security, as well as prepare them for transitioning into a bachelor’s degree program.
A high school diploma or its equivalent is usually required for admittance into an associate program. The courses required for an associate’s degree in criminal justice will usually include general education classes in English, science, social sciences, and math, as well as specialized instruction in areas such as computer technology, correctional organizations, court procedures, criminology, critical thinking, ethics, and juvenile delinquency.
Four-year bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice are usually a requirement for most management jobs in law enforcement. Courses for this level of degree usually include community corrections, criminal courts, criminal justice, criminal law, criminal procedure, juvenile justice, methods of research, policing, the U.S. court system, victimology, and other specialized topics.
A Master of Criminal Justice degree (MCJ) is usually required for senior-level positions in law enforcement. Areas of concentration for a master’s degree in criminal justice can include administration, correctional counseling, crime and delinquency, crime analysis, forensic psychology, homeland security, law, leadership and executive management, and public safety.
Teachers perform a very significant function in society. They prepare children to become self-sufficient adults by helping to develop their intellectual and social capacities. An education degree is a prerequisite for those wishing to become teachers, as well as the ability to communicate well with children and inspire motivation in them.
You can earn your degree in education in any number of specialties such as English, math, history, science, music, physical education or health, special needs, or gifted and talented education. No matter what area you decide to specialize in, however, the common denominators are that you will need at least a bachelor’s degree and must complete a teacher-education program. If you want to teach in public schools, you will also need certification or licensure from the state in which you wish to teach. Teachers at most private schools usually do not require licenses, although secondary teachers typically need to hold a bachelor’s degree in the field they wish to teach, and elementary school teachers typically require a degree in childhood education.
Courses for those wishing to earn degrees in kindergarten or elementary education usually include art, literature, mathematics, music, physical science, and social science, as well as professional education courses such as educational psychology, educational policy and leadership, philosophy of education, and teaching methods. Candidates for degrees in secondary education usually major in the subject they plan to teach, as well as participating in a teacher-preparation program.
All 50 states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified. Certification requirements are different from state to state, but they usually involve passing an exam assessing your knowledge of basic reading, writing, math, and different subject areas, and a period of supervised teaching for a certain number of years.
Most states also offer alternative or master’s education degree programs for those who hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject they wish to teach but do not have the necessary education classes to become licensed. These alternative programs are designed to ease shortages of teachers in high-demand subjects or locations.
Those wishing to become education administrators, such as principals and deans, usually start out as teachers and go on to earn a master’s degree in education administration or educational leadership. Most states also require public school administrators to obtain licenses.
Earning a finance degree can make you employable in many different positions in a wide range of industries. It can lead to typical money-related careers such as commercial banking, corporate finance, financial analysis, financial consulting, financial management, and investment banking. This degree can also prepare you for, or help you change to, other careers that can benefit from a thorough understanding of finance, such as insurance and real estate.
An associate’s degree in finance allows you to start out in the financial industry in entry-level clerical positions such as auditing clerks, bank tellers, bookkeepers, claims agents, junior accountants, and loan officers. Typical classes for an associate’s degree in this major might be banking and insurance, business statistics, commercial credit, cost accounting, elementary statistics, financial accounting, general principles of finance, microeconomics, personal finance, and tax accounting.
A bachelor’s degree in finance is usually regarded as the minimum prerequisite for most entry-level jobs in the financial industry such as accountants, auditors, budget analysts, credit analysts, financial analysts, treasurers, and personal financial advisors. A variety of courses intended to teach financial problem-solving skills as well as basic economic principles will be required for this degree, such as banking, business management, calculus, computer science, economics, international economics, micro- and macro-economics, risk management, and statistics.
Most mid- and senior-level positions in the financial industry usually require a master’s degree in finance. In fact, many jobs in the financial industry that previously required only a bachelor’s degree, such as accountants, budget analysts, credit analysts, financial planners, and treasurers, now increasingly demand master’s degrees.
An MBA (Master of Business Administration) degree indicates to employers that you will be competent in management roles. Consequently, this degree is most often pursued by entry-level professionals who wish to advance to more responsible job duties and higher salaries. An MBA finance degree is one of the most common areas of specialization. Coursework for an MBA in finance will most likely be a mixture of business and finance classes such as managerial and financial accounting, managerial statistics, capital budgeting, financial reporting, global economics, operational audits, leadership communications, operations and marketing management, and ethical leadership strategies.
The field of information technology (known as IT) is a wide-ranging one that involves depositing and safeguarding information in computers and network systems. It is also an expanding field. In a world increasingly dominated by computers, jobs based in IT are expected to grow between 14%-20% until 2018, which is faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. An IT degree can lead to jobs such as database administrators, Internet developers, and systems analysts in business, government, and service industries.
Two-year associate’s degrees in IT can be found at most community colleges. Since many of these programs are designed to meet the needs of local businesses, they are usually more occupation-specific than those of a bachelor’s program. Associate’s degrees in this major can lead to entry-level jobs as computer support specialists or computer programmers, and are also excellent preparation for eventual transfer to a four-year bachelor’s program. Besides general education courses in the arts and humanities, English, math, and science, other expected courses for an associate’s degree in IT can include algorithms, application testing, basic principles of computer hardware and software components, human interface design, and telecommunications.
Most employees in the IT industry, such as computer network or database administrators, information systems managers, and Webmasters, hold at least a four-year bachelor’s degree. A Bachelor of Information Technology degree, like a bachelor’s degree in computer science, involves the study of computers and technology. Unlike computer science programs, however, the bachelor’s program for an IT major concentrates on the communication and business applications of computing rather than the scientific principles behind computing.
Coursework for a bachelor’s degree in IT can include classes in computer graphics, multimedia technologies, network administration, operating systems, programming, and Web design and implementation. Most candidates for bachelor’s degrees in IT usually choose to specialize in a particular area of information technology such as systems administration or infrastructure management.
An advanced degree such as a Master of Science in Information Technology (MSIT) is usually required for more complex jobs in software engineering and database administration, as well as for those who wish to teach information technology at the college level. Courses for a master’s IT degree can include algorithm design and analysis, artificial intelligence, databases, distributed systems, information theory, numerical computation, operating systems, software engineering, and visual computing.
The practice of law is a very ancient, prestigious undertaking. Earning a law degree is also a very competitive, arduous process that requires a great deal of time, study, and money. Because of this, students who are sure they want to pursue this career path need to start preparing in high school by perfecting their English, reading, and writing skills. It also helps to be skilled in critical-thinking, logic, and public speaking.
The first step toward a degree in law is to earn a four-year bachelor’s degree. Although your major for this undergraduate degree can be in any discipline, classes related to the legal field such as government and political science will give you a good foundation for law school. You might also opt to earn a Bachelor of Science in Legal Studies. While this is not a professional degree that qualifies you to sit for the bar exam, it prepares you for other law-related professions such as a paralegal or legal assistant. It is also important to maintain a high grade point average (GPA) in college in order to increase your chances of getting into the law school of your choice.
After college, those aspiring to earn a degree in law must then pass the Law School Admission Test (LSAT), a rigorous standardized test consisting of multiple-choice and essay questions that assess writing, logic, reading comprehension, and verbal reasoning skills. Your score on this test, along with your college GPA, will play a critical part in being accepted to your preferred law school.
After being admitted to a law school, you can begin working toward your law degree, known as a Juris Doctor (JD). Most law programs are designed to be completed within three years as a full-time student or four years if part time. The first year of law school usually covers basic courses in civil, criminal, and constitutional law, while the remaining years are spent specializing in your preferred area of concentration such as corporate law, administrative law, or tax law. Participating in activities offered by your school such as student journals, moot court, or mock trials, as well as pursuing an internship or clerkship, will give you valuable, real-world legal experience.
After earning your degree in law, you must be admitted to the bar association of your state before you can begin practicing, which usually involves passing a bar examination.
Management is vital to the smooth functioning of any business. Managers are the employees responsible for planning, organizing, and directing other people in order to achieve the company’s desired goals and accomplishments. A management degree is an excellent option for students who possess good communication skills, logical thinking, and a confident, decisive personality that is comfortable leading others.
Training in management is available at all levels, from non-credit certificate courses to associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. Many of these courses can be taken on-line or on a part-time basis while the student gains work experience in the professional world. Recommended high school courses for those planning on a major in management include business math, biology, chemistry, English or communications, government economics, introductory business skills, keyboarding, record-keeping, U.S. or world history and geography, and a foreign language.
Coursework for two-year associate’s degrees in management will usually include business organization and management, composition, critical-thinking, elementary statistics, ethics, financial accounting, fundamentals of speech, human relations in business, marketing, and micro-economics. Associate’s degrees in management can lead to entry-level jobs in the business world such as appraisers, claims representatives, employment interviewers, human resources representatives, personnel technicians, and purchasing agents.
A bachelor’s degree is usually considered the minimum requirement for most jobs in the professional world. At the bachelor level, coursework for a degree in management will usually include accounting, business writing, calculus, conflict resolution, finance, human resources management, management information systems, marketing, mentoring, organizational behavior, macro- and micro-economics, psychology, and writing. These degrees can lead to careers as general or operations managers, management analysts or consultants, and project managers.
A Master of Business Administration (MBA) is not unanimously required for further career advancement, but is becoming increasingly preferred in competitive fields. Entry to an MBA program usually requires a bachelor’s degree and relevant work experience. A master’s degree in management can lead to senior positions in the business world such as CEOs, entrepreneurs, executive managers, independent consultants, or public officials.
Other management educational options can include an applied management degree at either the Bachelor of Science or the Ph.D. level. This degree bypasses any coursework not directly related to management functions and can be earned in two years or less. Another choice can be an organizational management degree, which focuses on different methods of leadership for business environments that are undergoing transition or change.
Marketing is not just the promotion of a product in order to sell it. Marketing actually encompasses the whole evolution of a product from conception to production to acceptance. The basics of marketing principles can be applied to any industry, including services, government, and non-profit organizations. The need for marketing will therefore always be a constant, even in an adverse economy.
A marketing degree can be a good academic choice if you have the combination of analytical-thinking and creative abilities, along with good communication skills and a desire to understand human behavior.
Associate’s degrees in marketing can prepare students for entry-level jobs in advertising, buying, customer service, promotions, retail sales, and wholesale distribution. These degrees can also lay the foundation for future entry into a bachelor’s program. A high school diploma or its equivalent is usually required for entry into an associate-level marketing program, as well as a strong propensity for statistics and math. It also helps to have previous work experience, which is useful when analyzing case studies.
A bachelor’s degree in marketing is usually required for most mid-level jobs in marketing, market research, promotions, retail merchandising, and sales. Coursework for a bachelor’s degree in this major usually includes a mixture of mathematical, business, and human behavioral classes such as accounting, advertising and promotion, business-to-business marketing, consumer behavior, international marketing, marketing communications, marketing planning and strategy, marketing research, professional selling, sales management, and statistics. A bachelor’s degree in marketing can lead to positions such as advertising managers, brand or product managers, buyers, marketing managers, media planners, sales managers, and public relations specialists.
Master’s degrees in marketing (usually a Master of Business Administration in Marketing) are designed for professionals who are already working in the advertising, marketing, public relations, or sales divisions of a company, and wish to advance to management, consulting, or entrepreneurial roles. A bachelor’s degree plus relevant work experience is usually required. At this level, marketing degree applicants will examine and analyze specific marketing issues through actual case studies, as well as market research, consumer targets, and supply and demand.
A Master of Business Administration or MBA degree prepares you to step into most major management roles that are available in modern corporations. It is, therefore, a degree typically earned by employees who wish to increase their responsibilities and salaries by being hired or promoted to mid- or senior-level positions.
Like any master’s program, requirements for acceptance into an MBA program usually include a bachelor’s degree, satisfactory test scores on the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or Graduate Record Examination (GRE), academic transcripts, references or recommendations, essays, and personal interviews.
However, many MBA programs also require previous work experience before enrollment (often two to five years), along with extracurricular activities and/or community service. Participation in charity work, community projects, self-improvement courses, professional organizations or clubs, public speaking, or volunteer activities can satisfy these extracurricular requirements.
Many MBA programs also make efforts to diversify their student body by including more female students or those from other countries. International students may be required to show that they are fluent in whatever language the program is conducted in by passing a language-proficiency test, such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).
Students usually study a wide variety of classes in the first year of an MBA program, and then choose an area in which to specialize in their second year. Core classes in the first year of an MBA program are usually drawn from several different disciplines such as psychology, sociology, economics, accounting, and finance. Typical specializations for this degree include accounting, economics, finance, international business, marketing, operations management, organizational behavior, project management, real estate, and strategy.
Requirements for successfully earning an MBA degree vary according to the school, but usually include successful completion of all core courses, a certain number of credit hours, and a minimum grade point average. It usually takes about two academic years for students attending full time to complete the program. However, since MBA candidates are usually actively working adults, many schools offer alternatives to the full-time MBA program such as accelerated, part-time, executive, and distance learning or on-line programs.
With millions of Baby Boomers expected to retire soon, the job prospects for all healthcare professionals will also boom, and nurses are no exception. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for nurses should grow much faster than average, by 22%, through 2018. If you are caring, sympathetic, detail-oriented, and possess emotional strength and stability, various nursing degrees are available which can be an excellent investment in your future.
Those who wish to enter the healthcare field as soon as possible can complete Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) training in as little as one to two years. Also known as vocational nurses, these healthcare professionals work under the supervision of Registered Nurses or physicians performing such medical tasks as administering basic care, dispensing medication, keeping records, performing CPR, and taking blood pressure and temperature measurements. LPNs must also pass state or national board exams such as the National Council Licensure Examination – Practical Nurse (NCLEX-PN).
LPNs can later go on to receive more advanced degrees such as a two-year Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Both of these degrees make candidates eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurse exam (NCLEX-RN) and apply for licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN). The scope of practice for RNs is determined by each state’s Nurse Practice Act, but all are qualified to provide direct care, make certain decisions regarding patient care, and supervise LPNs, nursing assistants, and orderlies.
Nurses who wish to become Advanced Practice Nurses (APNs) in order to enter managerial roles or specialize as nurse midwives, nurse practitioners, or nurse anesthetists go on to earn advanced degrees such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Nurses interested in teaching, research, or advanced clinical positions usually earn a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing.
Coursework for degrees in nursing usually includes such topics as anatomy, chemistry, epidemiology, ethics, legal issues in nursing, medication administration, nursing theory, nutrition, pharmacology, physiology, and psychology. Liberal arts classes are also included for nursing degrees at the associate’s and bachelor’s levels. All student nurses must also complete a certain number of hours of supervised clinical experience in hospitals and other healthcare facilities.
Because nursing is such a high-demand profession, most nursing schools provide a number of different nursing program options in order to accommodate busy schedules. Below is a list of some of the most popular programs in nursing offered by many schools. Many of these programs can also be participated in on-line (also known as “distance learning”), with the required hands-on clinical experience arranged locally.
- Accelerated BSN: This program is a variation of a program known as the Second Degree BSN, in which non-nurses who already hold bachelor’s degrees in other disciplines can earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in two years by receiving credit for having completed the liberal arts requirements. The accelerated versions of these programs allow non-nurses to earn a BSN in about a year, not only by granting credit for previous liberal arts courses, but also by allowing them to complete their nursing courses in a shorter amount of time.
- Associate of Science in Nursing: This program is one of the shortest paths to becoming a Registered Nurse (RN). Courses concentrate on technical skills instead of theory, and allow students to receive a two-year Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), which qualifies them to take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for licensure as an RN. This program can also prepare students for transition to a four-year BSN program.
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing: A four-year BSN is the recommended professional degree for most nursing positions and will give access to the best job opportunities. The first two years of these programs are usually spent fulfilling general education requirements, while the remainder is spent on nursing education.
- LPN or LVN Education: This program enables students to acquire a certificate as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), also known as a Licensed Vocational Nurse or LVN, after about one year of training at a hospital or other healthcare facility. Graduates of these nursing programs must also pass the NCLEX-PN exam.
- LPN-to-ASN: This program gives credit for previous nursing experience or LPN training, and allows LPNs to earn an ASN in a shorter period of time.
- LPN-to-BSN: In this program, LPNs can obtain their BSN professional degree in as little as four academic semesters.
- RN-to-BSN: This program is designed for RNs who hold ASN degrees and want to earn their BSNs. These programs are often very flexible, in order to assist working nurses.
Psychology is the study of the human mind and human behavior. Psychology degrees can lead to careers as counselors or psychologists who help patients understand themselves better and treat mental illness. Even if you don’t become a practicing psychologist, a degree in psychology can act as a valuable background to many other careers.
Associate’s degrees in psychology will take about two years to complete, and will cover the basic principles of psychology and introductory information on mental illnesses. Although job opportunities with associate’s degrees in this major are limited, they can give you good groundwork for many business careers that deal with people, such as advertising, human resources, sales, and public relations.
A bachelor’s degree in psychology provides more in-depth study into different aspects of psychology, as well as an introduction to research methods in psychology, and how to apply the principles of psychology to real-life situations. Bachelor’s degrees in psychology do not qualify the graduate to become a practicing psychologist, but they give helpful insight into people and their behavior, which can come in handy especially for careers such as advertising, law enforcement, career counseling, child care, sales, teaching, and writing.
A master’s degree in psychology will take an additional two years to complete after undergraduate school, and trains candidates in basic counseling skills. Holders of degrees in psychology at this level usually work in such settings as employee assistance programs, clinics, and group counseling. However, many states do not allow holders of master’s degrees in psychology to set up their own private practices, so many psychology students do not get a master’s degree at all and go directly from a bachelor’s program into a doctoral program.
Three levels of doctoral degrees in psychology are available – the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), and the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Psychology.
Ph.D. psychology degrees, which require five to seven years to complete, focus on research. They usually include an internship or residency as well as a dissertation. Psy.D. degrees are preferred by those who are only interested in clinical practice rather than research. These degrees take four to six years to complete, and concentrate on different aspects of clinical work such as marriage and family counseling. They also involve internships or residencies. Ed.D. degrees are for those who wish to teach psychology rather than practice it.
Software engineers create programs and other data that tell computers how to function or help computer users perform specific tasks. Because of the quickly-changing nature of computer technology, the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects that jobs for people with this skill are expected to grow much faster than average, by an enormous 32%, through 2018. Therefore, a software degree (also known as a software engineering degree) will always be in demand.
Many students begin their education in this field with a two-year associate’s degree in computer software from a community or technical college. Instruction includes the fundamentals of computer systems, computer programming, and software concepts, as well as project-based assignments that provide hands-on experience. Students also learn basic computer languages such as C++, HTML, and Java, as well as computer network systems and database management. Associate’s degrees in this major can lead to entry-level jobs as computer software technicians, computer systems analysts, and software testing consultants, although most holders of this degree go on to acquire further education after they have gained practical work experience in the field.
A four-year bachelor’s degree in software will prepare candidates to design, develop and produce computer software through courses on computer operating systems, computer programming, database management, Java programming, software design, and software quality assurance. This level of degree leads to a wider range of job opportunities such as computer development project managers, computer programmers, software engineers, software development project managers, and systems analysts.
Software professionals who wish to enhance their careers often go on to earn a master’s degree, which includes advanced courses in C++ and Java programming, data engineering, computer software design and testing, and software quality assurance. Since software engineers often work as part of a team, much of the coursework also includes collaborative projects to give candidates experience working with others. Acceptance into most programs for a master’s degree in software requires one to two years of relevant work experience and extensive experience in one or more programming languages.
A doctoral or Ph.D. software degree is not required for a successful career in software engineering, although it is recommended for professionals who wish to teach the subject at the college level or who are interested in advanced research.
Because of the constantly-changing nature of the software field, most software engineers regularly update their knowledge through continuing education seminars, and pursue certification in a particular programming language or technology.
Special Education Degree
Special education teachers work with children who have mental or physical disabilities. Although overall school enrollments are expected to decline, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of school children with disabilities continues to rise. Therefore, graduates holding a special education degree have an advantage in the education market. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the number of special education teachers will rise faster than average, by 17%, through 2018.
Degrees in special education are offered at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level. Coursework for a four-year bachelor’s degree in special education is similar to that for grades K-12 in many ways, but also incorporates specialized training. Candidates for bachelor’s degrees in special education learn how to adapt regular curricula to meet the needs of students with disabilities. They also study behavioral management, counseling techniques, and educational psychology, as well as techniques on teaching students with various disabilities, which can range from mild, to moderate, to severe.
Because of this specialized study, many teacher-training programs now require an additional fifth year in the bachelor’s degree program in order for candidates to participate in a period of supervised teaching. Since a master’s degree is the preferred level of education for special education teachers, many candidates also use this extra training year to begin graduate-level coursework.
At the master’s level, which usually takes an additional two years to complete, special education training programs typically allow candidates to concentrate in a specific area such as emotional problems, mental retardation, or specific learning disabilities. Candidates for a master’s degree in special education are also usually encouraged to complete an original research project on a relevant topic in special education.
All 50 states also require special education teachers to be licensed. Requirements differ from state to state, but typically require passing an assessment test.
Last Updated: 02/23/2013