The Basics of a Bachelor's Degree
A Bachelor's is an academic degree awarded to an undergraduate student who has completed coursework that has generally lasted for three or four years.
The name “bachelor” originated in the Renaissance age. When a physician passed his exam, he was traditionally awarded a wreath of bay laurel (placed upon his head), as a symbol of honor and intelligence. From this ancient custom developed the French word, “baccalaureate,” (from the Latin word “bacca,” for berry, and “laureus,” or bay laurel). These days, the term "bachelor" degree refers to an honor rewarded upon completion of a specific educational program.
Most US-based universities and colleges award bachelor's degrees with Latin-phrased honors. In ascending order, they are: cum laude (with honor), magna cum laude (with great honor), summa cum laude (with highest honor), and maxima cum laude (with maximal honor/praise). Requirements for these honors are met by earning minimum grade point averages, or GPAs.
Many U.S. colleges and universities have an additional academic track, known as an honors program, generally offered to the top percentile of the student class, based on grade point average, focused on more intensive and academically rigorous courses and (sometimes) research projects personalized in place of the standard core curriculum. Students completing these programs are awarded the same basic bachelor's degree as fellow students completing the standard curriculum, but have a notation on their diploma and college transcript.
The Bachelor of Science in Education is a four-year undergraduate degree offered by many US colleges and universities, both “ground” and online, for those preparing to be licensed as teachers. The BS in Education is a prerequisite to the Master of Education degree -- most often pursued by those looking to work in early childhood, elementary level, and special education, or as academic administrators. Secondary-level educators often choose to major in their subject area, such as Mathematics or History, with a minor in Education.
As with many degree programs today, there are different methods for obtaining a bachelor’s degree, including ground, online, and blended programs. There are pros and cons for each type of program.
Ground degree programs are what people typically think of as traditional college programs, where all of the courses are offered “in-person.”
Pros: The face time and personal interactions that students have with their professors and fellow students can be invaluable. Some students find they make connections that are worthwhile both personally and professionally.
Cons: Ground classes do not offer the flexible schedule that many online classes do. They may not be an option for students who do not live in a close proximity to that particular university or class site location.
Online Bachelor degree programs offer courses through the Internet. Students use regular Internet access to complete these programs.
Pros: Online classes are available at any time in any location. Few, if any, classes will have specific time requirements for logging in or participating in online discussions or other live interactions. Many classes allow for students to complete the material on their own time frame and submit it by specific deadlines.
Cons: Online classes do not offer the face time that ground classes do. Students will still interact with professors and students online, but these interactions may not be as personal as they would be in a classroom. Students in online classes may live all over the country, which will not make in-person interaction possible.
Blended Bachelor degree programs offer a combination of ground and online classes. The ratio of ground-to-online classes will vary in different programs.
Pros: Blended programs offer more flexibility than most ground programs. For example, students may have the option to take some classes in-person or online. Students will get the pros of both ground and online programs through their different classes.
Cons: Blended Bchelor programs are still not feasible for students who do not live near the university or class site location. They can still provide logistical issues for students who have other set schedules, such as set work or child care hours.
A solid general-knowledge bachelor’s degree is an invaluable foundation for your next step in the field of education.