What Does BA, MA & PhD Mean in Degrees?

Are you ready move ahead in your education, but not entirely sure which degree is right for your future career? Depending upon your focus and what education you've already earned, you can earn a degree in just a few years.

Many employers depending upon the level of the job require employees to have obtained a bachelors degree. For individuals hoping to advance their career or even to receive higher compensation, a masters degree is required. In some positions of leadership, it's not only necessary to have a doctorate degree, but a requirement.

A B.A., Bachelor of Arts, M.A., Master of Arts, or PhD, Doctor of Philosophy are nationally recognized degree programs that will give you the knowledge you need to succeed.

B.A.: Bachelor of Arts

Typically a four-year degree program within a specified departmental major, B.A. degrees are undergraduate degrees conferred upon completion of a Bachelor of Arts program or by transferring credits from an associate degree program toward the completion of a bachelor's degree program and finishing the required courses at the four-year school. Bachelor of Arts degrees emphasize education in the liberal arts. It's often required to complete course credits in fields such as humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics and foreign language. Some schools may also require additional categories of course work, such as multicultural studies. To complete a B.A. degree, you must also declare a major field of concentration for the degree. The major concentration is normally associated with the humanities or social sciences.

M.A.: Master of Arts

An M.A. is a Master of Arts degree. Master of Arts degrees are graduate degree programs within a concentrated specialization pursued after the completion of a bachelor's degree. Students often pursue master's degrees to gain promotion in their current careers or to advance to a new career within their field. A Master of Arts degrees gives you the opportunity to really focus on the subject in which you will earn your degree. The type of work typically involved includes, more in-depth reading and writing papers based on your analysis of a specific subject. As you near the completion of the degree, you will most likely be required to participate in a lecture, exam, final project or a thesis. It all depends on the intensity of the program. If you intend on furthering your education even more to obtain a doctoral degree, you must complete a master's degree program first.

Ph.D.: Doctor of Philosophy

A Ph.D. means Doctor of Philosophy and is the highest academic degree you can earn within a field of study. Students who complete a Ph.D. receive the prestigious title of doctor. A doctoral degree requires extensive research, often leading to the completion of a dissertation. Ph.D. recipients can progress toward careers as college professors, researchers or other professional positions related to their field.

Selecting the Right Degree

If you're wishing to pursue higher education degrees, you should consider your career goals and the objectives you hope to accomplish. You should research the career you intend to pursue and determine the level of education needed to acquire the position. You should speak to academic and enrollment counselors at the prospective institutions where you wish to study before making final decisions about your education. Some careers require only a bachelor's degree, while others prefer graduate degrees in the form of a master's or doctoral degree.