What Do All Those Letters Stand For?

What Do All Those Letters Stand For?

  • by
  • Feb 10, 2020
Pile of Scrabble letters

There are many types of college degrees that vary in length and by career field. Learn the abbreviations for common degrees.


Undergraduate degree that usually takes less than two years and focuses on skills for a specific career. Some careers may also require a license.


  • Certificate: in programs like Auto Collision Repair Technology, Computer Information Systems, Emergency Medical Services, and more.
  • Apprenticeship: supervised and paid on-the-job training combined with classroom instruction

Associate Degree

2-year undergraduate degree, usually given by community colleges.


  • AA: Associate of Arts
  • AAOT: Associate of Arts Oregon Transfer (transfer to a 4-year college)
  • AS: Associate of Science

Bachelor's Degree

4-year undergraduate degree.


  • BA: Bachelor's of Arts
  • BFA: Bachelor's of Fine Arts
  • BS: Bachelor's of Science

Master's Degree

A graduate degree beyond a Bachelor's degree; often takes 1-2 years.


  • MA: Master's of Arts
  • MAT: Master's of Arts in Teaching
  • MBA: Master's of Business Administration
  • MS: Master's of Science

Doctoral Degree

A graduate degree beyond a Bachelor's degree; may take 2-6 years.


  • PhD: Doctor of Philosophy (given in any field)
  • EdD: Doctor of Education

Professional Degree

A degree that allows students to practice a particular career; may take additional years beyond a Bachelor's degree.


  • BSN: Bachelor's of Science in Nursing
  • DDS: Doctor of Dental Surgery
  • JD: Juris Doctora (law degree)
  • MD: Doctor of Medicine


Additional certification, often requiring an initial licensing exam and continued education in the field; may take additional years beyond a certificate, Associate degree or Bachelor's degree.

  • License: for specific professions including hairdressers, electricians, teachers, and lawyers
  • LSW: Licensed Social Worker
  • LMT: Licensed Massage Therapist
  • RN: Registered Nurse