There are three categories of education at four-year universities: undergraduate, graduate, and professional.  An undergraduate education is the first level of educational attainment.  The undergraduate category includes those earning certificates, associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.  The bachelor’s degree is the highest credential that can be earned in this category.  It is also called a baccalaureate degree.

A graduate degree is an advanced degree that can only be earned after one has completed a bachelor’s degree.  The master’s and doctoral degrees fall into this category.  This is where one learns to expand upon what they learned as an undergraduate, and contribute to a field by devising original research.  These are also called post-baccalaureate degrees.

A special category of graduate degree is the professional degree.  The professions include programs that have an applied focus versus a research focus.  This means that you are learning how to “do” something highly specialized versus devising new thoughts about that field.  Medical, legal, and business programs are often considered “professional” programs.

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