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Categorizing Credentials

Alex has taught at four public schools, been accepted into three honorary societies, and traveled the Americas and Europe. He has his BS.

Introduction To Credentials

In the contemporary workforce, it is essential for one to have an educational background. Whether it's from a trade school, a college, or a university (or, even a high school diploma); one needs one or more credentials to succeed in the employment sector of society. We will dive into the various forms credentials can take, from traditional ones, to newer and less tested ones.

Traditional Credentials

Traditional credentials are time-honored achievements. They have survived for some time, and they are relatively safe credentials to procure, when obtained from a traditionally accredited institute. We will cover many of these types of credentials herein.


The Associate's Degree

The first credential, that we will cover, is the associate's degree. It is more specialized, and can hold more weight, than a high school diploma. For example, my associate's degree is an Associate of Arts in Teaching degree, with a major in "Teacher Ed Secondary Spanish". For many, an associate's degree is a way by which one can gain access to a school that offers bachelor degrees, but associate's degrees may also be applied to solidify one's curriculum vitae (CV). Some well-known associate's degrees include; the Associate of Arts degree (AA), the Associate of Science (AS) degree, the Associate of Applied Science (AAS), the Associate of Fine Arts degree (AFA), and the Associate of Arts in Teaching degree (AAT). At a seminary college, you may also encounter degrees like the Associate of Divinity (ADiv) degree. An associate's degree is an undergraduate degree.

The Bachelor's Degree

The bachelor's degree is one that has the potential to open many metaphorical doors! This kind of degree is an undergrad degree. It will likely cost more than the associate's degree, if it is from a regionally accredited institution, but it can be very beneficial for the one who holds one of these. One should note that using government loans is sometimes a possibility, and payment options can be reasonable. I am working towards a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in "Art + Design" and "Art Education". It should be noted that an associate's degree isn't always necessary for a bachelor's degree. However, having an associate's degree first could be very helpful towards getting into the school that you want.


The Master's Degree

The master's degree may be necessary for some jobs. It is a graduate degree. The degree may also come with a pay raise, depending on your employer. For many, this degree is the end of the line educationally. Some people even opt to get a second master's degree, as opposed to trying to attain a doctorate of some kind. If the degree is issued by a traditionally accredited school, the one who has it will possess something very prestigious. Moreover, it is possible to get a master's degree without a bachelor's first, but this is not the norm in the United States.

The Doctorate

The doctorate degree is another graduate degree. One of the most common doctorates, in the collective conscious, is the Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD). There is also the Doctor of Divinity degree (DD). These degrees should not be mistaken with a Doctor of Medicine degree (MD). Having "a Master's degree is not required" for all "PhD programs" within "the United States". (Academic Positions) However, "earning a Master’s and then PhD is still more common." (Academic Positions) In order to earn a PhD, or similar degrees, you may need to complete a dissertation. Although "most" "doctoral" programs will include a dissertation, "[n]ot all doctoral degrees require" this. (Northcentral University) Concerning the Doctor of Medicine degree, one does "not need a graduate degree to get into medical school." (BeMo Academic Consulting Inc.)

Honorary Degrees

The four traditional kinds of degrees, that we have covered thus far, can also be administered as honorary degrees. On one's CV or résumé, one should distinguish an honorary degree or honorary degrees from any other degrees. Honorary degrees can be received as an honor, but they do not hold the same weight as a standard degree.

"Different Types Of Degrees Explained"

The Diploma

Many workplaces will require a minimum of a high school diploma or equivalent. This is not always the case. In my state of Maryland, I was able to attain my high school diploma through the GED® program (I dropped out my senior year, so I had much of the necessary knowledge). In Maryland, successful completion of the GED® test will allow the test taker to get an official high school diploma. If you are in a state where this is not possible, and you are too old to finish high school - you may be able to use a GED® related credential to get into a local college. This would be where an associate's degree would be helpful to getting into a bachelor's program (a high school diploma or associate's degree may be necessary for admission into some, if not most, bachelor degree programs). There are other kinds of diplomas. I hold a Diploma in Digital Photography, and a Home Education Diploma. Institutions, like Alison, Centre of Excellence, and Shaw Academy offer various diplomas. You may be able to attain a diploma from your local trade school. Trade schools can prepare potential workers more quickly for careers.

New Forms Of Credentials

The world is changing, and the manifestations of credibility are expanding. I personally have a non-traditional credential myself. They haven't been around as long, and who knows how long they will last - but, some of them may be worth looking into.

The Nanodegree®

Udacity offers numerous Nanodegree® programs. These programs can go well above $1,000. The price isn't unreasonably high, but still out of the price range of many. Still, this credential may be worth considering.

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The Mini-MBA

MBA is the abbreviation for Master of Business Administration. The Mini-MBA is a condensed version of this. I received mine from the International Business Management Institute. Shaw Academy offers a Mini MBA course, and there are a number of other schools that offer Mini-MBAs. For example, one could apply for "the Mini-MBA in Rural Healthcare" offered by Dignity Health®. (Dignity Health® Global Education)

Introducing the Mini-MBA in Rural Healthcare

The MiniMaster

The University of Dallas offers Minimasters. (University of Dallas) One may also enroll in a "Mini Master of Business Analysis" from the University of St. Thomas. (School of Engineering)

The MicroBachelors® And The MicroMasters®

The MicroBachelors®, along with the MicroMasters®, are relatively affordable programs, that can come with great benefits to the holder. They are offered through edX's site. A student can enter for a MicroMasters® in Cybersecurity, Business Management, Entrepreneurship, or other areas of study. (edX Inc.) One could use such a credential to help in getting into an MIT master's degree program. (Lydia) "If successful in... proctored exams... they receive an MITx MicroMasters credential which permits application for a full MIT master’s or master’s courses at several other universities." (Lydia) Furthermore, it's possible that "not even a high school education is required for entrance". (Lydia) Thus, the value of the MicroMasters® may be beginning to prove itself.

The Conclusion

Whatever kind of credentials you decide to pursue, make thoughtful and careful decisions. You don't want to acquire debt for something that you nether care about, nor for a certification that you don't believe will bear any form of fruition. Always apply caution, but never stop believing in yourself!


Academic Positions. (2021, November 24). Master’s First or Straight to PhD? Academic Positions. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from,program%20straight%20out%20of%20undergrad.&text=Time%20commitment%2DMany%20American%20PhD,who%20already%20have%20Master's%20degrees.

BeMo Academic Consulting Inc. (2021, November 8). Do I Need a Graduate Degree to Boost My Med School Chances in 2021? How Skills Earned in Master's and PhD Translate to Med School Success. BeMo®. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from,graduate%20degree%20is%20totally%20optional.

Dignity Health® Global Education. (n.d.). Mini-MBA in Rural Healthcare. Dignity Health® Global Education. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

edX Inc. (n.d.). MicroMasters® Programs: Advance your career. Accelerate your Master's degree. Faster, flexible, free to try. edX. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

Lydia, O. (n.d.). MIT Master’s Degree Without Bachelor’s. College Learners. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

Northcentral University. (2021, March 12). DOCTORAL DEGREE FAQS. Northcentral University. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from,)%2C%20do%20not%20require%20dissertations.

School of Engineering. (n.d.). MINI MASTER OF BUSINESS ANALYSIS. University of St. Thomas. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

University of Dallas. (n.d.). What are MiniMasters? University of Dallas. Retrieved November 27, 2021, from

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Alexander James Guckenberger

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