Educational Degrees

Educational Degrees

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Xander Kalna!

Since many of the careers we discuss in our Teen Science Cafes and Y-CITYSCI activities required further education after high school, this blog post clears up some confusion about advancing your education and career opportunities. To give you a quick understanding of the various education levels, think about trying to visit the Gateway Arch. With a high school diploma, you walk there. With an associates degree, you use a bike to get there. With a bachelor’s degree, you use the metro trains to get there. With a master’s degree, you use a car to get you there. With a doctorate degree, you have a helicopter to fly there.

To begin with, we are going to talk about the different degrees. There are four degree levels: associate, bachelor, master’s, and doctorate. If we think about a pyramid, a high school diploma is the ground the pyramid is built on. An associate degree and bachelor degree are the first few layers that are very wide and short, but taller than the ground. A master’s degree is the middle layer, narrower but taller than the lower layers. A doctoral degree is the top of the pyramid, very narrow but very tall. In this analogy, the height of each layer represents how detailed your knowledge is in an area. The width of each layer represents the variety of knowledge. As the pyramid gets taller, it becomes narrower meaning that the more advanced degree you pursue, the more detailed knowledge you have on an increasingly specific area. 

The associates degree is usually a two year program offered at community colleges, junior colleges, technical schools, or online schools. Associate degrees are often great ways to gain qualifications for entry-level or technical jobs such as various medical technicians, dental hygienists, veterinary technicians,  engineering technicians, computer technicians, and natural resource technicians. Associate degrees are also useful to begin a bachelor degree by allowing students to explore their interests and complete general education requirements prior to moving to a bachelor program at a four-year college, saving time and money. Some schools in and around St. Louis that offer associate degrees are: St. Louis Community College, Ranken Technical College, and Southwestern Illinois College.

The bachelor degree is usually a four year program offered at private, public, and online colleges and universities. Bachelor degrees are oftentimes called undergraduate or baccalaureate degrees. Bachelor degrees are usually a requirement to enter many STEM fields such as biology, chemistry, engineering, environmental science, computer science, geology, meteorology, geography, and forensic science. A bachelor degree is a requirement to pursue a master’s degree. All of the universities and most of the colleges in and around St. Louis offer bachelor’s degrees such as: University of Missouri – St. Louis, Maryville University, Fontbonne University, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, and Harris-Stowe State University.

A master’s degree is usually a one to two year program offered at many of the same institutions as bachelor’s degrees. Master’s degrees require a bachelor degree and usually build off of that bachelor degree for a deeper understanding of a topic or field. Master’s degrees aren’t usually a requirement for many jobs but often are preferred. A master’s degree will aid you in finding specialized jobs in the same STEM fields that require a bachelor degree. Several of the universities in or around St. Louis offers master’s degrees such as: Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Missouri – St. Louis.

A doctorate degree can take anywhere from two to eight years and are offered at many of the same institutions as master’s degrees. Doctoral degrees are highly specialized and require at least a bachelor degree. Many programs require or prefer a master’s degree as well. Only a few universities in St. Louis offer STEM doctoral degrees such as: Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville, Saint Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis, and University of Missouri – St. Louis.


References:, “College Degree Levels“:, “Different Degrees“:, “Levels of College Degrees“:, “STEM Careers“:, “Education Degree Hierachy“:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Education Level and Openings“:

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Periodic Table of STEM Occupations“:

Image Credits:

Feature image by Joshua Ness on Unsplash.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Measuring the Value of Education”,: