What are the different types of degrees you can study abroad?

Learn about the different types of degrees offered in top study destinations to choose the right one for you.

Types of degrees differ from country to country, but they usually fall under a few general categories with a few changes in the duration and the name of the degree.

Associate degrees

Entry Criteria – successful completion of high school/secondary school education.

Associate degrees are short preliminary degrees that train students for taking up entry-level jobs in various fields like graphic design, programming and nursing. 

Examples of associate degrees:

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Associate degrees in top study destinations:

  • US

The duration of associate degrees in the US is 2 years. The credits you earn in such courses can also be transferred to continue with a bachelor's degree in the same subject area.

  • UK

The UK doesn't offer associate degrees, but you can take up a foundation course in its place. Foundation courses are 1-year long pre-degree courses that will help you get ready to start your university education. 

You can choose to do a foundation course to improve your English language skills, get familiar with the UK's education system, or learn the basics of technical subjects like engineering and medicine.

  • Canada

The duration of associate degrees in Canada is 2 years. British Columbia is the only province in Canada that offers associate degrees. You can take up diplomas and certification courses that are similar to associate degrees in the other provinces.

  • New Zealand

The duration of associate degrees in New Zealand is 2 years. You can later choose to transfer the credits from your associate degree to pursue a bachelor's degree in the same discipline. Note that associate degrees are mostly offered only in liberal arts.  

  • Ireland 

Ireland does not offer associate degrees, but you can take up 2-year certificate programmes in their place.

Bachelor’s degrees:

Entry Criteria – successful completion of high school/secondary school education.

Bachelor’s degrees are undergraduate degrees and are available in various majors. You can also opt for honours bachelor's degrees, but they will require higher academic performance (more credits) and are usually a year longer than regular courses. 

If you are interested in more than one major, joint degrees are an option. Two subjects from different disciplines will be combined to form a joint degree curriculum. Some examples of joint degrees are finance and economics, biology and engineering.

Examples of bachelor degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) 
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Bachelor of Architecture (BArch)

Bachelor’s degrees in top study destinations:

  • US

The duration of bachelor's degrees is 4 years (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior) in the US. The freshman year curriculum will cover a wide range of subjects from different disciplines like science, humanities and social sciences. You can choose your major in your sophomore year (second year).

  • UK

The duration of bachelor’s degrees in the UK differs from region to region. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Bachelors are typically 3 years long. Some courses allow you to do a bachelor degree in 4 years, which includes a sandwich year. This additional year will allow you to gain professional experience or choose to do a year abroad. 

Scotland's Bachelor's degrees are 4 years long.

Note: Bachelor’s degrees are generally referred to as undergraduate degrees in the UK, and you need to choose a subject as your major before you start applying to universities.

  • Canada

Bachelor's degrees are generally 3-4 years long in Canada. You need to choose your major while applying for your course and the duration of this course can vary based on the subject area and specialisation.

  • New Zealand

New Zealand offers two types of bachelor’s degrees. A basic bachelor’s degree with a duration of 3 years and level 7 in the New Zealand Qualification Framework (NZQF) and an honours bachelor's degree with a duration of 4 years and level 8 in the NZQF.

  • Ireland

Ireland offers two types of Bachelor’s degrees in NFQ (National Framework of qualifications) levels. An ordinary bachelor’s degree is 3 years long and is NFQ level 7. An honours bachelor’s degree is 3-4 years long and is NFQ level 8. 

Master’s degrees

 

Entry Criteria – successful completion of a bachelor’s degree.

Master's degrees are postgraduate degrees that train students to specialise in an area of study. 

Examples of master’s degree:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA) 
  • Master of Laws (LLM)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)

Master’s degrees in top study destinations:

  • US

Master's degrees in the US are 1-2 years long depending on the chosen subject.  

  • UK

Master’s in the UK are generally 1-year-long, but you can choose to do it in 2 years by adding work placement opportunities to your course to gain professional experience, or if you decide to do it part-time.

  • Canada

Master's degrees are 2-3 years long in Canada. The duration of your master's degree varies based on the subject area and specialisation.

  • New Zealand

A master’s degree in New Zealand is 2 years long and is level 9 in NZQF.

  • Ireland

A master’s degree is 1-2 years in Ireland and is level 9 in the National Framework of Qualifications.

Doctoral degrees

 

Entry Criteria - successful completion of a master’s degree. Some universities also accept students who hold a bachelor's degree with honours directly into their doctoral programs.

A doctoral degree is the highest level of degree you can get in a given subject area. In most cases, you will also be required to conduct research and submit a dissertation. After receiving your doctorate, you will be qualified to work as an expert in your field.

Examples of doctoral degrees:

  • Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

Doctoral degrees in top study destinations:

  • US

It takes anywhere between 2-6 years to complete a doctorate in the US.

  • UK

It usually takes about 3-4 years to get a Doctorate in the UK.

  • Canada

 It usually takes anywhere between 3-5 years to get a doctorate in Canada.

  • New Zealand

It takes about 3-4 years to get a doctorate in New zealand and it holds the highest NZQF level of 10.

  • Ireland

A doctorate holds the highest NFQ level of 10 in Ireland and it usually takes approximately 4 years to get it.