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Your Higher-Degree Options After Graduating from a Pathway Program in the US

The goal of a pathway program is to provide international students the opportunity to pursue credits towards a higher degree while honing their foreign language skills. Most pathway programs are just a year in length, but that does not mean that they are easy. Rather, the opposite is true. Courses are often taught in the host country’s language, forcing participants to quickly pick up on the idiosyncrasies and minute details of the foreign language if they hope to pass the program. Though pathway programs are intensive, they often lead to many exciting opportunities. Some successful graduates leave school and head directly into the workforce, many more choose to pursue higher degrees. The degree path is the most common path. If you have thought about enrolling in a pathway program and want to know what your different post-graduation options are, you are in the right place. In this post, we provide a brief overview of the different higher degree options and why you may want to pursue each after completing a pathway program in the US.

  • Bachelor’s Degree

    A Bachelor’s Degree is the first degree a person can earn after high school. It typically takes four years, 120 credits and around 40 courses for an individual to complete, though it may require up to 180 credits for individuals who attend schools with quarter rather than semester systems. Historically, a Bachelor’s Degree is what people earned when they earned a college degree. The US awards most Bachelor’s Degrees. This four-year Bachelor’s Degree paves the way for greater opportunities, both academic and career wise. Most individuals pursue a Bachelor’s for one of the following reasons: Their careers require a four-year degree. They have already earned more than 60 college credits or already possess an associate degree. They know that they need a professional degree for their careers. There are three types of Bachelor’s Degrees that a person can earn: Bachelor of Science (BS)Bachelor of Arts (BA)Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) A BS is typically reserved for individuals who have a more narrowed concentration and who are more career focused. Though an individual may pursue a BS in several areas of study, the most common include business, nursing, economics, biology and computer science. A BA provides for much more freedom. This type of degree is ideal for individuals who want to customize their education to fulfill their career goals. Most universities award BAs to individuals who concentrate on art, English, communications, modern languages, music and theater. Individuals who wish to become professionals in the creative arts world generally pursue BFA degrees. Those who aspire to be dance instructors, music teachers, actors, sculptures, painters, singers and dancers may benefit from a BFA.

  • Master’s Degree

    A Master’s program is the first level of graduate studies. In order to pursue this type of degree, a person must already possess a Bachelor’s Degree. An MS program typically takes two years of full time study to complete, though it may only take the really dedicated individual one and a half years. Most Master’s programs require 60 to 90 credits to complete, depending on what type of system a university operates on, and between 12 and 18 college courses. Many people wonder if working toward a graduate degree is worth the extra time and money it requires. If you wonder the same thing, the answer is yes. If you already possess a Bachelor’s Degree, you have already dedicated four to six years of your life to school. Obtaining a higher degree would only require two more years of your time but could significantly boost your earning potential. Moreover, a Master’s Degree may help you stand out in an overpopulated workforce in which most individuals only possess a Bachelor’s Degree. Some other reasons you may consider pursuing a higher degree include: You already have a Bachelor’s Degree. Your chosen career path requires that you to possess a Master’s Degree. You need a graduate degree to qualify for a higher salary. Even if your career field does not require a Master’s Degree, an MS can open several new doors for you that a BA or BS cannot.  In short, an MS provides options.

  • Doctorate’s Degree

    A doctorate program is the final level of graduate studies that a person can complete, which is why it is often referred to as a “terminal degree.” Students typically pursue a doctorate after obtaining an MS. Though most doctorate programs are independent of MS programs, some fields allow students to pursue both their Master’s and doctoral degrees in the same program. Depending on the field of study and the courses a person took during his or her undergraduate and graduate studies, the doctoral program can take anywhere from three to seven years to complete. In some instances, it can take longer. Most doctoral programs are completed on a research basis, and students must prove their expertise via comprehensive papers based on original research. Most students can complete the program on a part-time basis, though many pursue a doctorate full-time by means of a job position that both pays and offers credits. Many prefer this latter option, as most doctorate programs require a 40 to 60 hour a week commitment. During those 40 to 60 hours, students spend a significant amount of time researching and studying under the guidance of select professors.     Once upon a time, doctorate programs were strictly research-oriented and those who pursued doctoral degrees went into research and teaching professions. Today, however, several different professions require doctoral degrees, including psychology, healthcare and teaching at the college level. Though the doctorate is the final level of study that a person can pursue, there are four different levels of the degree. Each is equally as honorable but leads to differing career options. The categories of doctoral degrees are as follows: Research Doctorates: Research doctoral degrees focus exclusively on academic research. Some common degree names under this type of doctorate include Ph.D and Doctor of Philosophy.  Honorary Doctorates: Honorary doctorates are just what they sound like: degrees awarded on an honorary basis. Some institutions dole out honorary doctorates to those who have accomplished remarkable feats within a given field or within society in general. Not all universities award honorary doctorates, but those that do waive all the traditional requirements of the program.  Professional Doctorates: As the name suggests, professional doctorate programs focus heavily on certain professions. In general, these programs emphasize knowledge attainment and skill development.  Higher Doctorates: The higher doctoral degree is a tiered research program typically offered in countries other than the United States. If interested in these types of programs, students should look into universities in Great Britain, France and Ireland.

  • Benefits of a Higher Education

    Higher education offers several unique benefits, many of which unfortunately remain unrecognized in certain cultures. We say “unfortunately” because higher education offers several potential benefits, some well-known and others not so much. Whether you want to pursue an Associate’s Degree or a doctoral degree, you can reap several benefits, including the following: Personal Development: Though it is true that a higher education can prepare one for several fulfilling and lucrative positions, it can also lead to a happy and fulfilling life. Statistics show that individuals who have degrees are more successful in both their personal and professional lives in the following areas: Communication: Individuals with advanced degrees tend to express themselves more clearly than those without. Additionally, many college graduates feel more comfortable expressing themselves than their undergraduate counterparts. Identification: Pursuing advanced degrees helps young people identify passions and talents that they may not have been aware of otherwise. College forces individuals to take courses they never would have considered taking before, and therefore, to explore new ideas and new concepts they would have otherwise not considered. Critical Thinking: Critical thinking skills come in handy in all aspects of life. A college education at all levels forces individuals to question, analyze and reflect on subjects they otherwise would not have given two thoughts to before. Discipline: While each area of study varies in complexity, all degree programs require some amount of work and effort to complete. Unlike in high school, students are on their own while at university. They must take initiative, stay organized, manage their time and juggle all other responsibilities while staying on top of their grades, all feats that require tremendous discipline. Career Preparation: One of the most obvious benefits of a higher education is career prep. Most people who pursue higher degrees have clear ideas of what type of careers they would like to have in the future. For many people, a post-secondary education is an opportunity to gain the training and knowledge required to pursue their desired profession. As a result, this is one of the most acknowledged reasons for people to seek higher education. Practical Benefits: The number one reason that most people pursue a higher education is because of the practical benefits. From better and more job opportunities to higher salaries and more freedom, there are more reasons to obtain a higher degree than there are to not. Whether you want to boost your personal skills, expand your professional skill set or increase your earning potential, a higher degree can help you accomplish all of your personal and professional goals. For many international students, a pathway program in the US is just the beginning. To learn more about the many doors a pathway program can open for you, reach out to SchoolApply today.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.

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