If college were a one-size-fits-all operation, it would have long ago become ineffective. Degrees must be as unique as students and their objectives. To serve this need, institutions have created course objectives and disciplines for students to identify, major in, and master. It is these field-of-study distinctions that are often instrumental to beginning a career after college.
Bachelor's degrees are conferred as part of undergraduate study programs in which students take both general education courses and field-related studies. Majors are as diverse as the population, and four specific fields encompass the majority of them.
There were almost 1.6 million Bachelor's degrees conferred in the 2007-08 school year, which is the most recent school year available for such statistics from the U.S. Department of Education. They were issued in greatest abundance in the following concentrations: business, social sciences and history, health sciences, and education.
A Bachelor's degree in business is typically earned in three to four years and usually, though not always, requires a major in a business-related field. These majors can include accounting, management, marketing and more. There were 335,000 business degrees issued in 2007-08. Most of these business students earned a Bachelor's degree with a Business Administration designation, but many elected for the Bachelor of Management Studies or Bachelor of Administrative Studies, a choice typically dependent on an intended career path.
Social sciences and history, to some extent involve the academic study of society. These degrees also extend colloquially to sciences that fall outside the natural sciences of biology, chemistry and earth science. Bachelor's degrees in social science include degrees in obvious fields of communication, political science, anthropology and sociology, but also extend to criminology, economics, linguistics, and in some regard, psychology. History is very much a social academic study, but encompasses such a vast spectrum that it is often referred to as its own class of Bachelor 's degree programs. Of the 1.6 million conferred Bachelor's degrees in 2007-08, about 167,000 were designated in social sciences and history.
A Bachelor's in Health Science (or B.H.S.) encompasses health-associated study aimed at medically driven students. This degree is usually earned over four to five years and can lead to two different kinds of careers. Administrative jobs are usually earned with health science degrees in health care management, while nursing and radiography students go on to jobs in the field. These students combined represented 111,000 of Bachelor's degree graduates in 2007-08.
The fourth largest group of Bachelor's degree earners in 2007-08 were those with degrees in education. An undergrad education degree is usually issued in the U.S. as a B.S.E. or B.S. in Ed, a Bachelor's of Science in Education. These take four to five years of collegiate study, and prepare students to become educators. In most cases, an education degree does not grant the student permission to be a teacher, but rather permission to seek certification to do so; much like a lawyer cannot use his/her degree to practice law but must pass the Bar in his/her state. There were 103,000 graduates that earned education degrees in 2007-08.