Undergraduate degree

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An undergraduate degree (also called first degree or simply degree) is a colloquial term for an academic degree earned by a person who has completed undergraduate courses. In the United States, it is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a college or university. The most common type of these undergraduate degrees are associate degree and bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree typically takes at least three or four years to complete. [1] In some other educational systems, undergraduate education is post-secondary education up to the level of a master's degree; this is the case for some science courses in Britain and some long-cycle medicine courses in other European countries. These degrees can be categorised as basic or first professional degrees. [2]



United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, a bachelor's degree is the most common type of undergraduate degree. Some master's degrees, known as integrated master's degrees, can be undertaken immediately after finishing secondary education; these courses are usually extended versions of bachelor's degree programs, taking an additional year to complete. Most bachelor's degrees in England, Wales and Northern Ireland take three years to complete, with some notable exceptions, such as Medicine taking five years (these, like integrated master's degrees, are master's-level qualifications that include study at bachelor's level). [3]


In Italy, the laurea [4] (formerly laurea triennale, meaning "three-year laurea") is the most common type of "undergraduate degree". It is equivalent to a bachelor's degree and its normative time to completion is three years (note that in Italy scuola secondaria superiore or Lyceum [secondary or grammar school], takes five years, so it ends at 19 years of age). Not to be confused with the old laurea—now called laurea magistrale —which typically used to last five or six years. [4] To earn a laurea, the student must complete a thesis, but a less demanding one than required for the old laurea (typically, a non-research thesis). There is not necessarily a laurea course for every discipline. For instance, for disciplines as Medicine or Jurisprudence only laurea magistrale courses are provided.

North America

First professional degrees sometimes contain the word Doctor, but are still considered undergraduate degrees in most countries, including Canada. [5] [6] For example, the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) program in Canada is considered an "undergraduate degree". However, in the United States, most first professional degrees are considered graduate programs by the U.S. Department of Education and require students to already possess an "undergraduate degree" before admission. [7] These degrees are not research doctorates and are therefore not equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) [8] Many countries offer bachelor's degrees that are equivalent to American graduate degrees. For example, the Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degrees offered in the U.S. are equivalent[ where? ] to the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS or MBChB) degree. [9] [ failed verification ]

In the United States and sometimes in Canada, an associate degree is a two-year degree. It is occasionally undertaken as the beginning of a four-year degree. Some two-year college systems have articulation agreements with four-year institutions in their state, which specify which courses transfer without problems. [10]

United States


The Arizona General Education Curriculum certification (AGEC), awarded for the completion of an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or Associate of Business degree, indicates the completion of all bachelor's degree lower-level course work and permits the student to transfer to any of the three state universities and several private universities as a third-year student or "junior". [11]

To obtain an AGEC certification, one must:

  • Complete all associate degree credits at regionally accredited colleges (no secondary school credits accepted);
  • Satisfy all their bachelor's degree Lower Division Credits and Courses;
  • Meet credit transfer restriction guidelines;
  • Maintain a minimum GPA of 2.0 [12]

Although an AGEC certification meets the requirements for the bachelor's degree Lower Level it may or may not meet any prerequisite requirements for any given degree program. Associate degrees with an AGEC certification are often custom tailored with electives to meet the prerequisite requirements for the program and university the student wishes to transfer to.


Virginia's community college has signed system-wide agreements, allowing students who graduate from one of the 23 community colleges with a transfer associate degree and a minimum grade point average to obtain guaranteed admission to more than 20 of the Commonwealth's four-year colleges and universities.

South America


Argentine higher education system is based on the Spanish higher education system, which is basically a Continental education system (in contrast to the model in the English-speaking world). During the University Reform of 1918, a series of reforms that took place in the Universidad de Córdoba that further changed the Argentine educational system.

Currently there are three levels:


For a better understanding of education levels in Brazil, it is necessary to understand the structure of the higher education in the country. The present Brazilian system is organized according to the law that establishes the guidelines and bases for national education – Law n. 9.394 of 20 December 1996.

The classification of institutions of higher education happens according to their academic organization, and the following names are possible: Universities, University Centers, Colleges and Integrated Schools, Colleges and Institutes and Centers of Technological Education.

The higher education courses have two different academic levels, known as Undergraduate or Post Graduation. These degrees, have subdivisions in which are distributed programs of higher education in Brazil, and they may be bachelors, licentiates, and associates, for Undergraduate levels.

As for specializations, there are MBAs, Post-MBAs programs and for Post-graduation there are academic master's, professional master's degrees and doctorates. At the undergraduate level, there are still community colleges and further education courses.

Diplomas and certificates

At the undergraduate level, the bachelor's degrees, licentiates and technologist, provide undergraduation diplomas, while colleges and Extension courses provide certificates of completion. The law formalizes a B.A., B.S., Licentiate or Technologist degrees, according to the student's education, and is prerequisite to begin a Postgraduate degree course.

In the Postgrad, only students graduating from Stricto Sensu courses, that is, academic or professional master's and doctoral degrees and are given the titles of Master or Doctor, respectively. For students of the Lato Sensu – specializations, MBA programs and Post-MBA programs – is given certificates of completion and the title Specialist.

Graduate degrees in Brazil are called "postgraduate" degrees.

  • Lato sensu graduate degrees: degrees that represent a specialization in a certain area, and take from 1 to 2 years to complete. Sometimes it can be used to describe a specialization level between a master's degree and an MBA. In that sense, the main difference is that the Lato Sensu courses tend to go deeper into the scientific aspects of the study field, while MBA programs tend to be more focused on the practical and professional aspects, being used more frequently to business, management and administration areas. However, since there are no norms to regulate this, both names are used indiscriminately most of the time.
  • Stricto sensu graduate degrees: degrees for those who wish to pursue an academic career.
    • Masters: 2 years for completion. Usually serves as additional qualification for those seeking a differential on the job market (and maybe later a PhD), or for those who want to pursue a PhD. Most doctoral programs in Brazil require a master's degree (stricto sensu), meaning that a Lato Sensu Degree is usually insufficient to start a doctoral program.
    • Doctors / PhD: 3–4 years for completion. Usually used as a stepping stone for academic life.


Education in Uruguay is compulsory for a total of nine years, beginning at the primary level, and is free from the pre-primary through the university level. [13] In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 111.7 percent, and the net primary enrollment rate was 92.9 percent. [13] Primary school attendance rates were unavailable for Uruguay as of 2001. [13]

There are three levels of postsecondary education:

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Postgraduate education</span> Phase of higher education

Postgraduate education, graduate education, or graduate school consists of academic or professional degrees, certificates, diplomas, or other qualifications usually pursued by post-secondary students who have earned an undergraduate (bachelor's) degree.

An academic degree is a qualification awarded to a student upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions often offer degrees at various levels, usually divided into undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although some educational systems offer lower-level undergraduate degrees such as associate and foundation degrees. Common postgraduate degrees include engineer's degrees, master's degrees and doctorates.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Master's degree</span> Postgraduate academic degree

A master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.

A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to six years. The two most common bachelor's degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science. In some institutions and educational systems, certain bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate educations after a first degree has been completed, although more commonly the successful completion of a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for further courses such as a master's or a doctorate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Doctorate</span> Academic or professional degree

A doctorate or doctoral degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities and some other educational institutions, derived from the ancient formalism licentia docendi.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Undergraduate education</span> Academic programs up to the level of a bachelors degree

Undergraduate education is education conducted after secondary education and before postgraduate education, usually in a college or university. It typically includes all postsecondary programs up to the level of a bachelor's degree. For example, in the United States, a student pursuing an associate or bachelor's degree is known as an undergraduate student while a student pursuing a master's or doctoral degree is a graduate student. Upon completion of courses and other requirements of an undergraduate program, the student would earn the corresponding degree. In some other educational systems, undergraduate education is postsecondary education up to and including the level of a master's degree; this is the case for some science courses in Britain and some medicine courses in Europe.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Master of Science</span> Masters degree awarded for post-graduate study in the sciences

A Master of Science is a master's degree. In contrast to the Master of Arts degree, the Master of Science degree is typically granted for studies in sciences, engineering and medicine and is usually for programs that are more focused on scientific and mathematical subjects; however, different universities have different conventions and may also offer the degree for fields typically considered within the humanities and social sciences. While it ultimately depends upon the specific program, earning a Master of Science degree typically includes writing a thesis.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bologna Process</span> System for compatibility of higher education qualifications in the European region

The Bologna Process is a series of ministerial meetings and agreements between European countries to ensure comparability in the standards and quality of higher-education qualifications. The process has created the European Higher Education Area under the Lisbon Recognition Convention. It is named after the University of Bologna, where the Bologna declaration was signed by education ministers from 29 European countries in 1999. The process was opened to other countries in the European Cultural Convention of the Council of Europe, and government meetings have been held in Prague (2001), Berlin (2003), Bergen (2005), London (2007), Leuven (2009), Budapest-Vienna (2010), Bucharest (2012), Yerevan (2015), Paris (2018), and Rome (2020).

Doctor of Medicine is a medical degree, the meaning of which varies between different jurisdictions. In the United States, and some other countries, the M.D. denotes a professional degree. This generally arose because many in 18th-century medical professions trained in Scotland, which used the M.D. degree nomenclature. In England, however, Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.) was used and eventually in the 19th century became the standard in Scotland too. Thus, in the United Kingdom, Ireland and other countries, the M.D. is a research doctorate, honorary doctorate or applied clinical degree restricted to those who already hold a professional degree (Bachelor's/Master's/Doctoral) in medicine. In those countries, the equivalent professional degree to the North American, and some others' usage of M.D. is still typically titled Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery.

A Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery is a medical degree granted by medical schools or universities in countries that adhere to the United Kingdom's higher education tradition. Despite the historical distinction in nomenclature, these degrees are typically combined and conferred together. This degree is usually awarded as an undergraduate degree, but it can also be awarded at graduate-level medical institutions. The typical duration for completion is five to six years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Licentiate (degree)</span> Academic degree similar to masters degree

A licentiate is an academic degree present in many countries, representing different educational levels. It may be similar to a master's degree when issued by pontifical universities and other universities in Europe, Latin America, and Syria.

An engineer's degree is an advanced academic degree in engineering which is conferred in Europe, some countries of Latin America, North Africa and a few institutions in the United States. The degree may require a thesis but always requires a non-abstract project.

In Italy, the laurea is the main post-secondary academic degree. The name originally referred literally to the laurel wreath, since ancient times a sign of honor and now worn by Italian students right after their official graduation ceremony and sometimes during the graduation party. A graduate is known as a laureato, literally "crowned with laurel" and is awarded the title of dottore, or Doctor.

A magister degree is an academic degree used in various systems of higher education.

A professional degree, formerly known in the US as a first professional degree, is a degree that prepares someone to work in a particular profession, practice, or industry sector often meeting the academic requirements for licensure or accreditation. Professional degrees may be either graduate or undergraduate entry, depending on the profession concerned and the country, and may be classified as bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degrees. For a variety of reasons, professional degrees may bear the name of a different level of qualification from their classification in qualifications, e.g., some UK professional degrees are named bachelor's but are at master's level, while some Australian and Canadian professional degrees have the name "doctor" but are classified as master's or bachelor's degrees.

Catholic University of Brasília is a private, non-profit, Roman Catholic university located in Taguatinga, in the Federal District, in Brazil. As the only private university in the Federal District, it ranks sixth in the list of private institutions in Brazil. It is maintained by the Catholic Archdiocese of Brasília.

Master's degrees in Europe are the second cycle of the Bologna process, following on from undergraduate bachelor's degrees and preceding third cycle doctorates. Master's degrees typically take two years to complete, although the number of years varies between countries, and correspond to 60 – 120 ECTS credits. Within the European Higher Education Area, representing almost all countries in Europe, master's degrees are referenced to the Framework of Qualifications for the European Higher Education Area and national qualifications frameworks.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Academic certificate</span> Document that certifies having received specific education

An academic certificate or tech certificate is a document that certifies that a person has received specific education or has passed a test or series of tests.

Brazil adopts a mixed system of public and privately funded universities. Public universities can be federally funded or financed by State governments. Private schools can be for-profit or, in the case of Catholic universities, not-for-profit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro</span>

The Federal University of Triângulo Mineiro is a public university located in the city of Uberaba, Minas Gerais, Brazil, formerly FMTM and transformed into a university in 2005 by a federal government decree.


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