Hey prospective students! Studying abroad is a unique time of your life that offers amazing opportunities for your career and personal development.

In this post, we want to make it easy for you and show you the different types of degrees offered in major study destinations to choose the right one for you.

Although there are different types of degrees (as you can imagine it differs from country to country) but for simplicity purposes, they fall under the following categories:

  • Associate degrees
  • Bachelor’s degrees
  • Master’s degrees
  • Doctoral degrees

 Associate degrees

Associate degrees are short introductory degrees that teach students the necessary skills for getting into entry-level jobs in various fields like graphic design, programming and nursing.

How can you enter/enrol for an Associate degree? – you need to complete your high school/secondary school education successfully.

Examples of associate degrees:

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Associate degrees in top study destinations:


  • The duration is 2 years.
  • In the USA work with credits and not modules. The credits you earn in the Associate Degrees can also be transferred to continue with a bachelor’s degree in the same subject area.


  • In the UK they offer foundation and not associate degrees.
  • Foundation courses are 1-year long pre-degree courses that will help you prepare to start your university degree. Most universities will ask international students to complete a foundation course to improve their language skills and also to get the required knowledge to succeed in their undergraduate studies.


Ireland does not offer associate degrees, but you can take up 2-year certificate programmes in their place.

Bachelor’s degrees:

Bachelor’s degrees are undergraduate degrees and are available in various subjects.

If you are interested in more than one subject, joint degrees are an option. Two subjects from different disciplines will be combined to form a joint degree curriculum. Some examples of joint degrees are finance and economics, biology and engineering.

What are the Entry Criteria? – you need to complete your high school/secondary school education successfully.

Examples of bachelor degrees:

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA)
  • Bachelor of Science (BSc)
  • Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)
  • Bachelor of Architecture (BArch)

 Bachelor’s degrees in top study destinations:


  • The duration is 4 years (freshman, sophomore, junior and senior).
  • The freshman-year curriculum covers a broad range of subjects from different subjects like science, humanities and social sciences.
  • You may choose your major in your sophomore year (2nd year).


  • In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you may get your degree in 3 years. Some courses allow you to do a bachelor’s degree in 4 years (including a sandwich year). This additional year will allow you to gain professional experience or choose to do a year abroad.
  • In Scotland Bachelor’s degrees are 4 years


  • Ireland offers two types of Bachelor’s degrees in NFQ (National Framework of qualifications) levels. An ordinary bachelor’s degree which is 3 years long and is NFQ level 7. An honours bachelor’s degree is 3-4 years long and is NFQ level 8.

Master’s degrees

Master’s degrees are postgraduate degrees that educate students to specialise in a specific area of study.

What are the Entry Criteria? – you must successfully complete a bachelor’s (undergraduate) degree.

Examples of master’s degrees:

  • Master of Arts (MA)
  • Master of Science (MSc)
  • Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
  • Master of Laws (LLM)
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Master of Philosophy (MPhil)

Master’s degrees in top study destinations:


  • Master’s degrees can be obtained within 1-2 years of study depending on the chosen subject.


  • Master’s in the UK are generally 1-year-long, but you can choose to do it in 2 years by adding work placement opportunities to your course to acquire professional experience, or if you decide to do it part-time.


  • A master’s degree is 1-2 years in Ireland and is level 9 in the National Framework of Qualifications.

Doctoral degrees

What are the Entry Criteria? – you must successfully complete a master’s degree. Some universities also accept students who hold a bachelor’s degree with honours directly into their doctoral programs. You will still have to attend and pass some courses at the Master’s level, such as Research Methods.

A doctoral degree is the highest level of degree you can acquire. You will have to pass annual reviews and prove that you progress in your research. You will have to submit a thesis and then pass viva (oral examinations) in order to be awarded a doctorate. In some cases, the examiners might feel that your research is not original and may grant you an MPhil rather than a PhD.

Examples of doctoral degrees:

  • Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD)
  • Doctor of Education (EdD)
  • Juris Doctor (JD)
  • Doctor of Medicine (MD)
  • Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS)

Doctoral degrees in top study destinations:


  • It takes anywhere between 2-6 years to complete


  • It usually takes about 3-4 years.


  • A doctorate holds the highest NFQ level of 10 in Ireland and usually takes approximately 4 years to get it.