Graduate VS Undergraduate: What Difference Does it Make?

There is a huge difference between graduate vs undergraduate in which people are still finding it difficult to know their differences. A bachelor’s degree in any course is taken by an undergraduate who hopes to get a first degree in a given field or aspire to pursue another degree usually a postgraduate.

The educational system in the world has been categorized in numerous stages that come with its certificate. Therefore, for every level of tertiary education, there is always a certain certificate attached to it. Although some countries might have their concept that makes them different from others.

For instance, in the U.S., undergraduate courses are referred to as graduate programs, while graduate programs are called postgraduate or postgraduate studies. It implies every country has its classification when it comes to graduate vs undergraduate. The essence of the topic itself is to erase any confusion and throw more light. Let’s dive into further clarification.

What is the Meaning of Graduate?

A graduate is an individual who has finished an undergraduate course or degree and aiming to get another one. The graduate student must possess an undergraduate degree before their admission application can be considered. It is one of the criteria fulfillment for graduate programs, and it is higher than an undergraduate degree.

Therefore, anyone studying for this degree is called a graduate student. When someone is called a graduate student, it shows they are studying for a Master’s or doctorate. In some institutions, doctorate students are called Ph.D. students.

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What is the Meaning of Undergraduate?

An undergraduate happens to be someone studying in either a college or university in pursuit of a first degree (bachelor’s degree). The word undergraduate in another way can be an adjective describing different things such as student, degree, and studies. Students vying for an undergraduate degree are called undergraduate students.

During the studying process, there is a minimum GPA score they must have to study for a graduate course after their first degree. In most cases, these undergraduate courses could be from 3 years and above. There are situations students might fail a certain course, but they are expected to rewrite them as carryover before their graduation.

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Differences Between Graduate vs Undergraduate

We are going to see this topic graduate vs undergraduate under various measures or parameters. These are the following differences:

  1. Types of degrees

For the graduate programs, there are three major categories for anyone wanting to obtain a certificate or degree from any course.

  1. Master’s Degree:

This type of degree involves lots of research from the students and it is centered on a particular career. There is an added advantage this does to an individual and that makes it simple to gain employment using an advanced level or go for a doctorate. Under a master’s program, there are degrees like Master of Science, Master of Fine Arts, Master of Arts, Master of Business Administration, and many others.

  1. Doctoral Degree:

It is another advanced degree higher than a Master’s degree. People in this field are expertise with some years of experience under their belts. For instance, an academic doctoral degree can be referred to as a Doctor of Philosophy. It centers on different research in a given field. After this degree, the next one is the professional degree.

iii. Professional degree:

It is a higher degree that requires one to carry out in-depth research. In some cases, the individual has to write different books through their level of discoveries and research. It is the last phase or higher rank for anyone pursuing an educational degree.

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For undergraduate studies, there are two major degrees

  1. Associate Degree:

It is the first level of higher education found in technical or community colleges. The essence of the degree is to make a student liable to study general education courses and other related courses to their career. Also, the associate degree helps an individual to gain entrance into a university for a 4-year degree program. Some of these degrees under an associate degree are Associate of Science, Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, etc.

  1. Bachelor’s degree:

It is the second level of tertiary education that can be obtained through college or university. It demands a student to choose or pick a major that fit their career ambition. It is the common type of degree anyone could obtain in a college. Some of these bachelor’s degrees are Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Art, Bachelor of Engineering, and many others.

  1. Admission requirements:

The graduate program requires students to be done with their undergraduate program before they can be admitted for masters. The admission needs a GRE standard test score, statement of philosophy, recommendation letters, etc. On the other hand, undergraduates need students to possess a high school certificate or anyone equivalent to a high school certificate. Also, language tests could be required such as the ACT or SAT.

  1. Length of study:

The length of study of graduate vs undergraduate is different from each other. Various factors are affecting this issue, and the mode of study either part-time or full-time could prolong the stay of any student. For a Master’s degree, it might take like two years for a student to complete their program, but some situations will require one year or three years.

A doctoral degree takes between four to six years of study because it requires extensive research and writing of various projects. The undergraduate degree takes four years and above depending on the course of study. For instance, the time frame for medical-related courses is longer compared to other courses. If it is an associate program, two years for students to complete before they can get their degree.

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  1. Coursework:

Graduate vs undergraduate have different coursework and it shows on the number of credits possess for each academic semester. The good thing about graduate courses they are well specialized to fit the career of students. Though there might be many courses, each semester it takes nine classes or three or four classes. Some of these students in a graduate school will take a comprehensive examination for each of the courses they are offering.

Undergraduate course load differs for various Universities, but the least is usually 15 credits for each semester. There are different types of courses at the undergraduate level such as general education courses, major courses, and minor courses.

The general education courses related to the career specialties of the students covering a wide area like English and Mathematics. The major courses are the ones students have to specialize in relevance to their core course, while the minor courses can be elective courses from another discipline.

  1. Classroom environment:

The classroom for graduate vs undergraduate is different from each other. In graduate programs, classes are held in smaller rooms due to the number of students admitted for the course or more lecturers for the course to teach different groups of students to increase the level of specialization.

The lectures in graduate programs involve intensive discussions between students and professors leading to more interaction relating to their fields. Different students work with different professors for mentorship on creating portfolios and also research projects.

For undergraduate programs, lectures are held in large classrooms, and they vary from each other depending on various factors such as department, faculties, institutions, etc. For instance, there is an Undergraduate course that admits a small number of students, while others admit a large number of students. A large classroom makes it difficult for lecturers to have individualized attention for students.

Most of the lectures are done with lecturers dictating while students are taking lecture notes, and also doing assignments. Students are free to ask any questions from their lecturers to get more enlightenment. Another method of teaching could be group methods of teaching, and it is an effective way for professors to offer individualized attention to their students.

  1. Potential job earnings:

A graduate degree opens more room for job opportunities because it shows the individual has some level of specialty in the field. Also, the employer might decide to pay a graduate degree holder more money compared to an undergraduate.

An Undergraduate degree has its potential earning but it is not higher than a graduate degree. According to statistics, the following are the salary for different degrees: Associate degree: $836, Bachelor’s degree: $1,173, Master’s degree: $1,401, Doctoral degree: $1,743, Professional degree: $1,836

  1. Tuition costs

The tuition fee for each of the program is different from each other. A graduate vs undergraduate has their tuition cost depending on the course or program. Factors are influencing the high cost of tuition fees such as teaching methodology, facilities, research work, etc.

Normally, public universities offer an affordable tuition rate for students compared to private institutions. Therefore, students have the right to choose any school to study for either their graduate or undergraduate programs.

Other Interesting Contents


Graduate vs undergraduate has many differences that one could easily spot out by themselves. The article has pinpointed things using different perspectives or measures for even the confused ones to have easy comprehension. Therefore, if you feel you are not clear about graduate vs undergraduate, you can take your time to read through the article again.

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