Educational Options in California

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At community colleges, you can earn…

Vocational Certificates

These demonstrate that you have a set of skills for a particular occupation. The length of time required varies by occupation, ranging from six months to less than two years. Certificates are available in subjects like auto mechanics, welding, and cosmetology.

Associate’s Degrees

These are two-year degrees that provide preparation for a career or for a transfer to a four-year college or university. Examples of careers that require an associate’s degree are dental assistant, teacher assistant, and electromechanical technologist. Students can also earn an associate’s degree, and then transfer to a four-year school to earn a bachelor’s degree.

At four-year colleges and universities, you can earn…

Bachelor’s Degrees

A bachelor’s degree is awarded after four years of study at a college. The Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS) are the most common, and both require general education courses, a major, and electives. This degree is also called an undergraduate degree.

Master’s Degrees

A master’s degree is an advanced degree earned in a specialized field after the completion of a bachelor’s degree. Most master’s degrees take one to three years of full-time study and include writing a thesis or taking comprehensive exams. Common Master’s degree programs include School or Personal Counseling, Business Administration, Social Work, Physical Therapy, Public Administration and Education.

Doctoral Degrees

A doctoral degree, also known as a doctorate (PhD), is the highest educational degree you can earn. A doctoral degree indicates expertise in a specialized field. Doctoral programs typically range from 5-7 years in length and include academic courses, and research and writing a dissertation. While students that enter a doctoral program after completion of a bachelor’s degree will spend 5-7 years in the program, others may enter after completion of a master’s degree and will spend 3-5 years to complete the program.

Professional Degrees

Professional degrees are advanced degrees in fields like dentistry, ministry, law, medicine, pharmacy, and veterinary medicine. These degrees are earned after completing a bachelor’s degree, and the length of study required for each profession varies from 2-5 years.

Certificates and Credentials

A certificate program is a structured set of courses and requirements in a defined area at the graduate level and is generally less demanding than a degree program. Credential programs prepare individuals to provide service in California public school settings. Credential programs are regulated by standards set by the state of California.