Undergraduate degree

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An undergraduate degree (also called first degree, bachelor's degree or simply degree) is a colloquial term for an academic degree taken by a person who has completed undergraduate courses. It is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university. The most common type of this degree is the bachelor's degree, which typically takes at least three or four years to complete.

United Kingdom[edit]

In the United Kingdom, the degree of bachelor is the most common type of "undergraduate degree", although some master's degrees can be undertaken immediately after finishing secondary education, however these courses are extended versions of bachelor's degree programmes, taking an additional year to complete. Most bachelor's degrees take three years to complete, with some notable exceptions such as Medicine taking five years. Often students can initially enrol in a 4 year programme then leave after three years and be awarded a bachelor's degree.

North America[edit]

First professional degrees sometimes contain the word Doctor, but are still considered undergraduate degrees in most countries, including Canada.[1][2] 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.[3] These degrees are not research doctorates and are therefore not equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)[4] 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 to the Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (MBBS or MBChB) degree.[5]

In the United States and sometimes in Canada, an Associate's Degree is a two-year degree. It is occasionally undertaken as the beginning of a four-year degree. Some two-year institutions have articulation agreements with four-year institutions, which specify which courses transfer without problems.[6]


The Arizona General Education Curriculum certification (AGEC), awarded for the completion of an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or Associate of Business degree respectively, indicates the completion of all Bachelor's degree lower level course work and permits the student to block transfer to any of the three state universities and several private universities as a third year student or "Junior."[7]

To obtain an AGEC certification, one must:

  • Complete all Associate Degree credits at regionally accredited colleges (no Secondary(High) 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[8]

Although an AGEC certification meets the requirements for the Bachelors Degree Lower Level it may or may not meet any prerequisite requirements for any given degree program. Associates 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 colleges have signed system-wide agreements, allowing students who graduate from one of the 23 community colleges with a transfer associates degree and a minimum grade point average to obtain guaranteed admission to more than 20 of the Commonwealth's four-year colleges and universities.[9]

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