Higher Education Degrees
What is higher education?
Higher education concerns all education beyond the high school level. This includes bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate and associate’s degrees. Higher education is considered a basic stepping stone towards white-collar jobs including research and teaching.
Higher education is structured less rigidly than lower levels of education. While states attempt to regulate primary and high school education to ensure that all students are trained in generally accepted skills, higher education has the freedom to develop individual curriculums. While some programs such as engineering may be regulated by private bodies that attempt to standardize curriculums, the universities are not bound to follow them and may exercise considerable independence.
Higher education also attempts to provide its students with work experience, research and teaching opportunities in addition to the basic education. Higher education also provides students with some unique extracurricular opportunities in sports, music and other fields.
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Common degrees in higher education
Associate’s degrees in higher education are generally two year programs offered by community colleges. These can provide a stepping stone into some entry level jobs but involve limited breath of study.
An undergraduate degree in higher education often involves four years of study and a concentration of study. Over half the courses may be related to the concentration whether in the liberal arts or engineering. Undergraduate degrees in higher education still require all students to fulfill area requirements in writing, quantitative study and languages.
Master’s degrees can often create additional academic and professional opportunities. Master’s degrees are generally used to focus on a sub-area within a discipline though they may occasionally be used to enter completely new areas for those looking to make a career switch.
Doctoral degrees in higher education prepare students for careers in research and teaching whether in private industry or academia.
Specializations in higher education
The specializations available in higher education extend across many different subject areas and durations of study. You can specialize in any subject in science, engineering, social sciences and humanities.
There is a growing trend towards interdisciplinary majors in higher education. For example, degrees in nanotechnology may involve the study of chemistry, biology and physics. Degrees in management science may involve accounting, finance, psychology and economics. There are also unique degrees at select schools that may combine psychology and philosophy or computer science and the humanities.
Career opportunities and salaries in higher education
One of the primary goals of higher education is to train people broadly enough to prepare them for careers that require critical thinking, adaptability and personal qualities. While those without higher education may often pursue blue-collar jobs as laborers or clerical jobs, those with higher education are more likely to be involved in teaching, research and management.
The career opportunities and salaries you can derive from higher education really depend upon what path you follow. Medicine, law, business and engineering can often draw upper middle class salaries. Researchers and university professors also have strong career prospects especially if they receive tenure and take advantage of consulting opportunities.