Colleges and universities provide for-credit courses, degrees, or certificate programs in engineering, science, technology, management or other specialized subject areas. They offer associates’, bachelors’, masters’ and/or doctoral degrees. Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.), and Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees are awarded by community colleges, junior colleges and some bachelor’s degree-granting colleges and universities upon the completion of a course of study equivalent to the first two years in a four-year institution. Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degrees are the basic undergraduate degrees offered by four-year colleges and universities, depending on the required course of study. B.A. degrees require significant coursework in subjects such as languages, literature, and music. B.S. degrees require concentration in mathematics, engineering, technology, or science. Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.A.) degrees require the successful completion of a program of study of at least one, but not more than two, credit-based academic years of work beyond the bachelor’s degree. Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) degrees provide advanced education in business studies and usually require the completion of a bachelor’s degree as a prerequisite. Doctoral degrees involve coursework, comprehensive examinations, original research, and a dissertation. They require a minimum of three years of study beyond the master’s level and confer a Doctor of Philosophy degree (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree.
Colleges and universities are located across the United States and around the world. They vary widely in terms of cost and curriculum. Accreditation is an important consideration in determining the quality of an institution and its programs. Colleges and universities with institutional accreditation have adequate resources, faculty and staff, policies and procedures to meet mandatory or voluntary standards. Colleges and universities with program/professional accreditation are also available. Organizations that provide program/professional accreditation include the Applied Sciences Accreditation Commission (ASAC), the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), and the National Association of Industrial Technology (NAIT). Some colleges and universities provide distance learning. Others grant students credit for previous work experience.