4 Year Degrees: Why You Should Earn a 4-Year Degree?

It typically takes four years to earn a bachelor's degree, which can seem like a long commitment to people considering their postsecondary education options. However, having a 4-year degree can result in higher employment rates, greater salary potential and the ability to qualify for graduate study or more advanced jobs.

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Reasons to Earn a 4-Year Degree

Individuals who are in a hurry to join the workforce may be concerned about the time commitment required to earn a bachelor's, or 4-year degree. Although some schools offer accelerated 3-year programs, most students take 4-6 years to finish their bachelor's degrees.

However, there are many professional and economic benefits to finishing a 4-year degree. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 72% of adults with a bachelor's degree were employed in 2013. Compare that to 62% of people with a high school diploma or equivalency credential, and you will see that your odds of finding a job can be higher with a 4-year degree.

Furthermore, individuals with bachelor's degrees typically earn higher salaries. The U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reported that in 2013 people with a bachelor's degree or higher earned a median of $48,500. By contrast, people with only a high school diploma or GED earned $30,000.

This increased earning potential may be due to the fact that having a bachelor's degree is a minimum requirement for advanced positions in almost any field. Having a 4-year degree is also a prerequisite for graduate study, which can help you advance even further in your career.

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What is a 4-Year Degree?

A 4-year degree is another term for a bachelor's degree and used to distinguish it from 2-year associate's degrees, which are the other common type of undergraduate postsecondary programs. Students don't generally need any previous college experience to enroll in a 4-year degree program. However, they must either have a high school diploma or have passed the GED exam to earn their high school equivalency credential.

Where to Earn a 4-Year Degree

Students can earn 4-year degrees at colleges and universities throughout the country. These include everything from public universities to private liberal arts colleges to Ivy League institutions. Individuals who already know what they want to study may consider seeking out schools that are particularly well-known for those subjects. Those who plan to determine their majors after starting a program can search for schools based on location, size, general reputation or one of many other factors.

Regardless of your reasons for choosing a school or program, make sure that you're studying at an accredited institution. Some graduate schools and employers may not accept degrees from non-accredited schools.

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