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Definition of Degree Abbreviations

A diploma is a degree that is recognized and approved by local, state and national agencies. 

HS - High School Diploma is a diploma awarded for the completion of high school. In the United States and Canada, it is considered the minimum education required for government jobs and higher education. An equivalent is the GED or General Educational Development test. 

VT - Vocational training is an educational program that specifically prepares an individual to work in a chosen field. By contrast, a college undergraduate degree focuses on developing an individual's all-around intelligence and critical-thinking skills, but may not prepare an individual for a specific job.  For a good description of vocational training visit:
These careers often involve very technical (specific) skills that are mastered during vocational training.

AS - Associate's Degree is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by community colleges, junior colleges, technical colleges, and some four-year bachelor's degree-granting colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study usually lasting two years.

BS - Bachelor of Science Degree is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years. Variations of a BS include a BT, referring to a Bachelor's of Technology, or a BA, a Bachelor of Arts degree. These different terms are often used for different areas of study or may be specific to colleges.

MS - Master of Science Degree is awarded upon completion of one to two years of advanced graduate study beyond the bachelor's degree, with the length depending on the field of study. It recognizes heightened expertise in an academic discipline. You will complete some additional courses, but also have opportunities to practice in your field or do research.

MPS - Master of Professional Studies Degree is available at some universities and is the equivalent of an MS degree. An MPS student generally selects a project that is less dependent on data collection and analysis and more on application. It can be completed on a part-time basis.

PhD - Doctor of Philosophy (or doctoral degree) is intended to teach a student to carry out independent, autonomous research in a specific field.. This degree is often, but not always, completed after a Master's degree is earned. The length of study ranges from 3 - 6 years. On completion, a student presents and defends a dissertation (or thesis) before an academic panel.

DVM - Doctor of Veterinary Medicine is usually a 4 year full-time program that begins after earning a BS or MS degree. The first 3 years generally includes classwork and the final year involves practical hands-on learning in a clinical setting. A veterinary career may also require a year or more of residency in a specific field upon graduation.

Certificates or Certification may also exist, depending on the field of study.  Requirements will vary but may include on-line courses, community level classes, workshops, and self-study programs that give students an opportunity to gain experience and knowledge necessary to enter certain careers. Certification requirements vary by state.  For sample NYS professional certification requirements, see:

A subset of technical careers may involve an Apprenticeship, which is a long-term shadowing experience where you are expected to work alongside someone very skilled in the job or work area.