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What are Academic Programs?

By Ken Black
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Academic programs may refer to a broad area of study, such as specific colleges, but usually refer to specific types of degree paths. These academic programs may be nothing more than a workshop or series of workshops over a weekend, or may be a long-term area of study over many years. Depending on the extent of the education, they may also be broken down into different subgroups of programs.

The most basic types of academic programs are those that teach students a vocation. These vocations may include some general education work, but will mainly be focused on the skills needed to perform a certain task. In the United States, this is often a task of community colleges. In such an academic skills program, it is usually easier to achieve a degree in fewer semesters than it may be to achieve a more traditional degree.

The second level of academic programs are known as Bachelor's degree programs. On average, these take approximately four years to complete, or roughly 120 semester hours. There are many different types of programs and fields of study available for those seeking Bachelor's degrees. Some are science degree programs. Others are available in the business field, education field, or any one of a number of other fields.

The third level of academic programs include graduate academic programs. These will include Masters programs and PhD programs. These are often the most difficult to achieve, requiring the highest level of expertise and often requiring the greatest detail in work, especially at the PhD level. Those who attempt to earn these degrees are expected to be experts in their respective fields. Thus, the requirements are often very stringent.

Some students may be involved in what is known as an academic scholarship program. These programs involve giving the student the benefit of a free or discounted education, provided certain qualifications are met. Such qualifications may include maintaining a certain number of credit hours each semester, achieving a certain grade point average, and even doing some community service or college service work.

Different schools may specialize, or at least have a good reputation for, certain academic programs. For example, some schools may be known for their medical programs. Others may be known for their law programs. Choosing a school may often depend on the type of academic program the student wishes to pursue. This is why the school is often nearly as important as the career chosen.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By icecream17 — On Jan 19, 2011

Sunshine31-I know that a lot of schools offer academic summer programs and some of these programs are geared toward high school juniors and seniors.

The University of Miami offers a pre-Architectural program for students seeking to major in this field in college. This program helps to introduce students to programs like CAD and AutoCAD that they will be using in college and in their profession.

These types of program also give the high school graduate an edge regarding admissions. Many prominent schools offer academic programs for students that demonstrate superior cognitive abilities.

Duke University offers a summer program for students that test in the top percentiles in the T.I.P. program. I also know that many high school and colleges offer academic programs abroad in order to learn another language.

By sunshine31 — On Jan 18, 2011

Oasis11-I could not agree with you more. The arts are a wonderful thing but a degree in business can help you possibly open up an acting studio or develop a traveling show.

There is a business side to everything and this is a great academic program that fits virtually any discipline.

Understanding the business side can help you form the business of your choice when the economy does not present the ideal job. This can even lead in buying a franchise in an area that you love.

By oasis11 — On Jan 18, 2011

Sneakers41-I do think that potential salary is a factor in determining which academic degree programs you seek. While it is important that you enjoy what you do, you also have to be realistic regarding your income potential in your chosen field.

If you want to get a degree in theater realize that most people do not earn a living wage in this field. A better alternative would be to consider a degree in a practical field with a minor in theater. You can also perform on your time off from your traditional job and that way you do not have to give up your dreams entirely.

A college education is an investment in your future. You have to make sure that you get the most out of it with these academic programs.

By sneakers41 — On Jan 16, 2011

Academic degree programs offer opportunities to enhance one’s quality of life. It is really important to consider the cost of the academic programs offered along with the potential income that you will receive once you are working in the field.

This is an important consideration and prioritizing academic programs this way insures that you will get the highest return on your investment.

Many people seek don’t take this into consideration when they think about academic degree programs and graduate with a high student loan debt and have a difficult time paying for the loans because they went into a field that does not offer high compensation.

For example, if you decide that you want to seek academic degree programs in education, and you attend a private four year university with no scholarship, you can have bills up to $120,000 or more for the four years.

If you realize that the average starting salary for a teacher is about $38,000, these student loan debts will hamper your lifestyle considerably which is the reason you sought the degree in the first place.

It is better to go to an in-state public university where the tuition is considerably less and an average four year university bill will cost you about $40,000 or slightly more. This is a considerable savings especially when you will obtain exactly the same job.

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