A bachelor’s degree is an academic degree awarded to an individual after satisfactorily completing an undergraduate course of study at a college or university. The term comes from the Latin baccalarium, “of the bay laurel,” an ancient honorific. Traditionally, a bachelor’s degree required, on average, four years of study, but some individuals may require longer based on circumstances.
Many bachelor’s degrees in the United States are awarded with Latin honors. These are: cum laude (“with honor”), magna cum laude (“with great honor”) and summa cum laude (“with highest honor”). Such designations are frequently based on grade point average.
A Bachelor of Arts degree (B.A. or A.B, from the Latin baccalarium artium or artium baccalaureus) is awarded for undergraduate studies in one of the liberal arts, and occasionally in science, although many students pursuing a science education receive a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree. A Bachelor of Arts degree requires, on average, four years in the United States (between 120 and 180 credit hours), but only three years in most European Union nations.
In 2013, approximately 32% of the United States population over the age of 25 had earned a Bachelor’s degree. Women have been earning the majority of Bachelor’s degrees in the US, some 58% of those awarded.