College Degree Abbreviations List

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By Erin Palmer · Aug 30, 2013

This guide can make it easier to research degrees by providing the meanings behind many acronyms and abbreviations


Acronyms and abbreviations are widely used in the collegiate environment. Researching degrees can be confusing for someone unfamiliar with the terminology. This guide can help make it easier to navigate through all of the common college degree abbreviations used in higher education.

Bookmark this list to keep track of some  of the abbreviations needed to stay informed about degree programs.


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Acedemic Degree Abbreviations, Levels and Time to Complete

A.A. Associate of Arts. This is a two-year degree that typically covers general education and a variety of liberal arts topics.



A.A.S. Associate of Applied Science. This is a two-year degree that focuses on a technical subject area or a science-related program.


ABD All But Dissertation. This phrase refers to a doctoral student who has finished all coursework and exams required for a doctoral program and have presented his or her dissertation proposal. At this point, completing the dissertation is the final step toward getting the degree.


ABT All But Thesis. This phrase refers to a graduate student who has completed all coursework and exams required for a graduate program. All that is left before graduation is completing the thesis.


A.D.N. Associate Degree in Nursing. This is a two-year degree program for future nurses. After receiving the degree, students are qualified to take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for their nursing license.


A.F.A. Associate of Fine Arts. This two-year degree program focuses on creative fields like photography, theater, painting or sculpture.


A.S.N. Associate of Science in Nursing. A two-year nursing degree that prepares students for the NCLEX-RN exam. After passing the exam, graduates can apply for licensure.


B.A. Bachelor of Arts. This refers to an undergraduate degree in liberal arts or sciences. This is a typically four-year program.


B.F.A. Bachelor of Fine Arts. A four-year, undergraduate program that focuses on a creative subject like musical theater or interior design.


B.S. Bachelor of Science. This is a four-year program for undergraduates with a focus on science-related fields.


B.S.N Bachelor of Science in Nursing. An undergraduate program that teaches the fundamentals of nursing. Nurses can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam after getting a two-year degree, but this four-year program offers additional job opportunities and increased salary potential.


D.N.P. Doctor of Nursing Practice. This doctorate degree is for nurses who aspire to practice medicine or obtain advanced positions within their field.


Esq.  Esquire. This abbreviation usually refers to a person who is a licensed lawyer.


J.D.  Juris Doctor. This is the degree that is awarded after a person has completed law school.


M.A.  Master of Arts. This refers to a graduate degree in a liberal arts-related field of study.


M.B.A. Master of Business Administration. This graduate program awards students with a master’s degree in business administration.


M.Ed. Master of Education. This graduate program awards a master’s degree in the education field.


M.F.A. Master of Fine Arts. This master’s degree program offers graduate-level study of artistic subject matters.


M.S. Master of Science. This graduate program offers a master’s degree in a science or technology-related subject matter.


M.S.N.  Master of Science in Nursing. This graduate degree teaches advanced nursing techniques to prepare registered nurses for higher positions with additional responsibilities.


Ph.D. Doctor of Philosophy. This refers to a doctoral degree. It is also used as a title for a person who has earned a doctorate degree.

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