After graduating from elementary school, and then from high school, a lot of students feel fatigued and exhausted from studying. For that reason, many decide to take a break from school and enroll in college later. Some other people who didn’t dare to skip the year may feel burnt out from all the studying and wonder when are the studies going to come to an end.
Whether you’re in the first or second group, understanding what major takes the longest depends on the degree plan that you have in mind, because not all degree programs last the same.
For example, taking a bachelor’s or associate’s program could last only from 2 to 4 years, but deciding to take a graduate program may add more years at university for you.
In this article, we’ll briefly go through the different degree programs and how long they last. After that, we’ll be able to compare the different duration times of different majors that you decide on to study.
Keep in mind that some degrees are more complex and require more responsibility from your end, like medical schools for example. On the other hand, some schools may not last as long but will provide a lot of practical, hands-on knowledge that you’ll be able to use in the industry.
Different Types Of Educational Programs
Below, we’ll take a look at the different degree programs and how long they last.
There are two key undergraduate programs available to students once they complete the high school education.
Bachelor’s program: Universities offer 3 or 4-year long bachelor programs. Two key programs include the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science. However, some additional programs depend on the university that offers them. This is the most popular type of undergraduate program with a lot of opportunities in the industry. Graduates can also enroll in Masters and Doctorate.
Associate’s program: Community colleges are those who commonly offer associate’s degrees and they can last anywhere from 1 to 3 years, depending on the major you choose. Two areas that are prominent in the Associate’s program include the Associate of Arts or Associate of Science. Keep in mind that these two areas can be more specialized.
Graduate programs are available to the Bachelor’s program graduates. However, some universities offer some exceptions where students with no Bachelor’s degree or Associate’s degree can take on the graduate programs that we will list below.
Master’s program: Most of the universities also offer corresponding Master’s programs that students can take on, once their graduate the undergraduate studies or participate in an accelerated or integrated Bachelor’s plan. The two most popular types of master’s degrees include the Master of Arts and Master of Science. Depending on the profession and career journey you’ll follow in the future, your Master’s graduate title may differ. A Master’s degree can take between 1 and 2 years to complete in its entirety.
Doctoral program: Doctoral degrees are the highest and most difficult degrees in higher education. They can last anywhere from 3 to 6 years, depending on the program that you will take. However, to complete the Doctoral degree, you need to participate in a lot of research, while also writing a dissertation that is a product of your research and engagement in academia, which is why these programs last super long.
Majors That Take The Longest
Now that you have a general idea of the duration of each degree program, we can list some majors that can take a long time to graduate when you compare different undergraduate and graduate programs. Read on!
1. Medical Major
How long does it last: ~4-10+ years
In the United States of America, completing medical school can roughly take four years. However, that’s not enough for one to become a doctor. One can take a Master’s program to become an advanced Registered Nurse or a doctor general practitioner, but if you want to become a physician, your journey is yet to start and can take well over 10 years to complete.
Depending on the institution that you will study at, medical schools are divided into two key sections – the pre-clinical and clinical sections. Each lasts two years and requires many courses and sweating to complete.
The first two years include the pre-clinical block focus on math and other science courses. Schools will allow either theoretical or didactic studying plans or problem-based learning, where lessons are more practical and oriented towards solving certain problems. After the first two years, students take the USMLE examination that tests their skills.
The third and fourth year at medical schools is mainly focused on practical and clinical work. Students are expected to be rotated throughout different healthcare institutions, mainly hospitals, where they will work on clinical tasks and learn from physicians and other experts there.
Before moving onto the more serious steps to become a physician or another specialist, you’ll have to take the USMLE Step 2 examination.
After these examinations are complete and you finish the first 4 years of medical school, obtaining the titles of MD, MBBS, DO, or MBChB, you should enroll in the Residency program which can last roughly 3 years. Residents work as the house staff of a hospital, training to work on their job. If they want to specialize further, medical school graduates will also need to take a fellowship that will specialize them in a certain medical discipline.
How long does it last: ~6-8+ years
Have you ever wondered how long does it take to become a dentist? They can be near as experienced and knowledgeable as doctors, but there’s a possibility that becoming a dentist takes less time than becoming a doctor. Below, we’ll detail everything about dental major that makes it last nearly as long as medical school.
A dentist is a person who is responsible for maintaining your oral health. They are in charge of taking care of dental and periodontal diseases, while also preventing them, fixing broken teeth and those affected by cavities, and even operating them.
There are various specializations for dentists, so studying to become one can take shorter or longer depending on what specialization you want to take.
The dental major is, however, a tad more flexible than a medical degree but can take surprisingly long to get the degree. Although different factors affect how long it takes to become a dentist, there are either programs that combine a few dental educational programs or specializations that can shorten your study program.
The general rule of the thumb for aspiring dentists is to complete an undergraduate dental degree which takes around four years to complete. After completing the four years from the undergraduate program, students are prompted to continue clinical studies in the dentistry program that also prepares and enables future dentists to treat different oral diseases and work with patients.
That weighs around 8 years for a dentistry student to become a dentist. If they choose to specialize in becoming an oral surgeon, they will need additional training that takes a few more years. There are some additional dentistry training and integrated programs that allow students to reach their degrees within six years.
How long does it last: 3-9 years
Law degree can be a bit difficult to explain, and while it may look short and easy at first, it’s far more complicated. With the rise in 12% of students enrolling in law programs in the last several years, it’s important to explain that law programs are nowhere near easy and can easily require nearly a decade to complete.
Most of the law schools require their students to complete a bachelor’s degree in some program to be able to go to law school. With that in mind, you’ll need 4 years of studies at college or university before you apply to law school. Some law schools don’t require students to hold a bachelor’s degree.
However, taking the bar exam, which is important for every law graduate who wants to become a lawyer or attorney may be restricted for the law school graduates who don’t have a bachelor’s degree.
After completing a law school program that lasts approximately 3 years (but can last even longer at times) students receive the title JD (Juris Doctor) After receiving this degree, they have to take the bar exam. You need to get your JD title from an ABA-approved law school, or else you won’t be able to take the bar exam and become specialized for working in the law system.
Lastly, some law school graduates who studied outside the United States, or under a different law school program, need to get the LLM degree (Master of Laws) which allows lawyers to become even more specialized at what they’re doing.
4. The Humanities
How long does it last: ~4-9+ years
There are a lot of split opinions on whether liberal arts and the humanities are even worth it, and whether they’re hard or not to study. One thing is for sure, and that’s that they can take a long time to study. That’s because the undergraduate degree in itself is usually not enough to help graduates find a respectable job.
A lot of the graduates go further into Masters and Doctoral studies because of the potential they provide to enter the research waters. A lot of people studying humanities also want to stay in academic life, and it can take up to 9 to 10 years to complete the humanities degree from start to Ph.D.
To Sum Up
The length of your studies depends on what major you choose. Getting an undergraduate degree from most programs and majors should be more than enough to enable you to work in the industry and earn a respectable amount of money.
However, some programs require more dedication and engagement in the study. Such are the programs we mentioned above. If you want to be a doctor general practitioner, it’s enough to complete general medical school and specialize in work. However, if you want to become a cardiologist or an oral surgeon, you have to go through specializations and get a Doctoral degree.
The length of your studies depends on two things – which major you’ll study, and how far are you willing to qualify yourself. That said, no matter what major you choose you’ll study at least 2 years for the associate’s degree or 4 years for the bachelor’s degree.
Depending on whether you want to move forward with the graduate degrees and specializations, your education may last longer.
A report found that getting an associate’s degree can take well over 6 years to get. The same report shows a pattern of only 14.7% study participants who got the associate’s degree, while 31% took over 6 years to get it.
In the same report, by contrast, 37.5% examiners stated it took them 4 years to complete the Bachelor’s program, while 14.2% stated it took them more than 8 years.
So, even if you choose to study art history or anthropology, you may study for 4 years for the undergraduate degree, but further education may take at least 2 more years. That said, the length of your studies is an individual thing and unless you want to be a highly-qualified doctor, dentist, or researcher, you won’t need more than 4 years at college.