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How Difficult Is It to Earn a Bachelor’s Degree?

By Ashley Eneriz
November 5, 2018

If you have your associate degree or are considering going back to school, you are probably asking questions like, “Should I get my bachelor’s degree?” and “How difficult are bachelor’s classes, anyway?”

While only you can decide if enrolling in a college program is right for you, there are many benefits to getting your bachelor’s degree. In fact, college graduates earn on average 56 percent more money, while non-grads are faced with dwindling job opportunities and a three percent decline in income.

Even knowing the benefits of a college degree, you may still be hesitant—worried that the courses will be too difficult, or that it will be impossible to add class and schoolwork to an already hectic schedule. The good news is: others have done it, and so can you. Earning a bachelor’s degree is not necessarily an easy endeavor, but it is a worthy one. Find out what it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree, and how you can take the next step.


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The Basics of a Bachelor’s Degree

There are three types of bachelor degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, and Bachelor of Fine Arts.

  • Bachelor of Arts: This degree is awarded to those who pursue a study in liberal arts, such as education, digital communication, and linguistics.
  • Bachelor of Science: This degree covers more technical or science-related subjects, such as information technology, psychology, accounting, and health management.
  • Bachelor of Fine Arts: This degree is intended for individuals who want to enter the workplace as an artist and includes degrees such as photography, musical theater, or studio art.

Most bachelor degrees require 120 credit units for completion and are divided into lower and upper division courses. Lower division courses cover general education requirements. These are classes college freshman and sophomores take and are often covered if you’ve earned an associate degree. Upper division courses are junior- and senior-level courses that are major-specific. These classes are directly related to your degree, and help you prepare for a specialized career.

How Hard Is It to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

The difficulty of earning a bachelor’s degree depends on several factors, such as:

  • Previous education: If you have an associate degree or previous college credits, you may be partially done with your bachelor’s degree. Depending on the number of transferrable credits you have, you may be able to shorten your path to a bachelor’s degree significantly.
  • Program format: The level of difficulty of a bachelor’s program may depend on the format you choose and the way you prefer to learn. While the courses in online degree programs are not necessarily easier, some independent learners enjoy the flexibility online programs offer, and find classes easier as they are able to set their own pace. On the other hand, students who struggle with self-discipline or prefer face-to-face interaction may find online courses more challenging. For some, on-campus programs are more appealing. This, however, requires transportation and a more structured schedule.
  • The major you study: Some degrees, like bachelor’s degrees in computer or data science, require more technical knowledge than one focused on liberal arts, such as a BA in history or English. Consider what type of work interests you most, and which type of assignments you excel at. The perceived difficulty of your coursework will depend largely on your personal skill set and interests. If you are passionate about the degree you are pursuing, your courses may feel easier than taking ones you do not enjoy.
  • Your responsibilities outside of school: A degree might feel harder to pursue if you are working, caring for children or elderly parents, or just balancing many personal commitments. While it might seem challenging to manage these outside responsibilities with school, you can still earn a degree through flexible, online options.

(Learn how one Northeastern University alum successfully earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science while in active military duty.)

A Worthwhile Degree Isn’t Easy

Colin Powell, the first African-American appointed as the US Secretary of State, said, “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” Depending on your career goals, a bachelor’s degree may be the key to making them happen.

While you can’t expect bachelor degree classes to be a breeze, it’s important to remember that college classes are difficult for a reason. If your courses felt easy, you wouldn’t be adequately prepared for your future career. Of course, you don’t want your degree program to be so hard that you can’t finish, either. The right degree program is one that pushes you to become better-focused and more disciplined while advancing your skills and deepening your knowledge.

Top universities incorporate challenging, but valuable, opportunities for students to engage on a level beyond traditional lecture-style classes. At Northeastern, for example, faculty incorporate challenge-based learning and hands-on projects in their courses to more adequately prepare you for a career in the real world.

There is value in pushing through the challenges of a bachelor’s degree program. After all, if earning a bachelor’s degree were easy, everyone would do it. By enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program, you can stand out and show future employers how valuable you are.

You Are Worth It

Instead of asking, “How difficult are bachelor’s classes,” ask yourself, “Am I worth it?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” You deserve the opportunity to achieve your dreams, and a bachelor’s degree is the stepping stone to get you there.

Dr. Kemi Jona, the founding director of Northeastern University’s Lowell Institute School, says that Northeastern’s bachelor’s completion program was designed specifically for students coming back to school after time away or for students who had previously finished their associate degree.

“All your classmates here will be people just like you–balancing work, family, and school,” he says. “We have redesigned many of our programs based on the kinds of skills and roles you would be doing in the workplace–so everything you learn is relevant and applicable to the real world.”

Ready to see how you can advance your career without putting the rest of your life on hold? To take the first step toward your future, get in touch with a Northeastern coach for personalized advice.


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About Ashley Eneriz
Ashley Eneriz is a content contributor for Northeastern’s Lifelong Learning Network.