Choosing the Right Type of Undergraduate Degree

Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson we explore several different things one should consider when choosing the right undergraduate degree. From interests to school cost, all can play an important role in degree choice.


A post-secondary education can be the key to your future. It can open up doors to a wide variety of careers, higher wages, and a better quality of life than your parents or relatives may have had. But with the growing number of institutions offering a greater and greater variety of degrees, choosing the right degree for you can be a daunting task.

But it doesn't have to be. This lesson will help you narrow down your choices and help you focus on what matters when choosing a degree.


There's an old saying that ''If you do something you love, you'll never work a day in your life.'' Now, that doesn't mean you will get to live a life of luxury if you choose a career you like; what it means is if you find a career where you enjoy the work, it won't necessarily feel like work. Indeed, being sure you choose a degree which can lead to an enjoyable and fulfilling career can be one of the best decisions you will ever make. But this isn't always the easiest thing to do.

If you are unsure of what type of degree you want, you should ask yourself some basic questions. What classes do you enjoy the most in school? What type of careers might a degree in this field lead to? Where can I look to find out more information about these types of careers? Often the answer to that third question is your guidance counselor. Set up an appointment to discuss degrees and careers; they will likely be able to give you more information on degrees you are interested in, including schools which offer those degrees, and help you narrow down your choices.


Once you are armed with basic info on what you like, you need to have a serious discussion with yourself on what you want out of life and the careers each type of degree will make available. To illustrate this point, let's take a look at an example; we'll call him Steven.

Steven's favorite subject in school is history. He loves learning about different countries and events in the world. But Steven also wants to make lots of money in his career--and do it right away. If Steven is more intent on making money quickly than on pursuing his favorite subject, then a history degree may not be the way to go, since further study after his history degree--like at law school or a graduate degree--are likely required for Steven to make lots of money with those skills. Instead, he may want to choose finance or economics--degrees which require a good deal of knowledge about the world but also lead to careers with higher pay.

Steven is just an example, of course. There are an infinite amount of factors that can come into play for each person when choosing a career and a life path. You need to weigh your own wants and needs carefully to help you choose the career path--and degree--that is right for you.


When most people think about a post-secondary degree, they think about a typical bachelor's degree. These degrees are often programs designed to be completed in four years, though many students complete them in less than four years or take a year or two more to complete them. They provide a student with an advanced grounding in their chosen field of study, called a major. These programs often require students to complete general education courses (often the same or similar for all bachelor's degrees at any given school) and perhaps take courses in a secondary field of study, called a minor.

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