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An Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree is typically a two-year transfer degree that indicates the completion of a student’s lower division general education requirements and forms the foundation for baccalaureate (e.g., bachelor’s) degree programs (South Dakota Regental System minimum of 60 semester credits; exceptions to this number require Board of Regents approval per SDBOR Policy 2.29). Up to 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required. More than 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required if specified by an accrediting agency.
An Associate of Science (A.S.) degree is a terminal degree (South Dakota Regental System minimum of 60 semester credits; exceptions to this number require Board of Regents approval per Board Policy 2.29). However, it is transferable when a specific degree articulation agreement exists between a given A.S. degree and a specific baccalaureate degree (see SDBOR Policy 2:25:4B). Up to 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required. More than 16 credit hours at the 300 and 400 level may be required if specified by an accrediting agency.
At South Dakota State University, the associate’s degree programs are:
- Associate of Arts (A.A.)
- Associate of Science (A.S.)
The bachelor’s degree is awarded to a student by a university for satisfactory completion of a prescribed course of study ranging from 120-138 credits. It is verified by a diploma and transcript signifying a measure of achievement. The bachelor’s degree enables a student to acquire a certain amount of general learning and to also become proficient in a particular field of study or a profession. The curricular structure of a bachelor’s degree program includes a system general education core curriculum, institutional graduation requirements, support courses, major courses, and electives.
At South Dakota State University, the bachelor’s degrees offered are:
- Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
- Bachelor of Fine Arts (B.F.A.)
- Bachelor of General Studies (B.G.S.)
- Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (B.L.A.)
- Bachelor of Music Education (B.M.E.)
- Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
- Bachelor of Science in Education (B.S.E.)
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.)
In broad terms, the master’s degree indicates that the recipient has mastered a program of advanced, specialized study in a particular field. Normally, degree titles indicate one of two major categories. The first category, the Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees, provides an introduction to scholarship activities and research. These degrees often serve the needs of individuals teaching in public schools or community colleges and/or preparation for further graduate study. The second category leads to professional master’s degrees, such as the Master of Education (M.Ed.) or Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.). Although similar to the M.A. and M.S., these programs tend to emphasize professional practice.
At South Dakota State University, the master’s degrees offered are:
- Master of Architecture (M.Arch.)
- Master of Arts (M.A.)
- Master of Education (M.Ed.)
- Master of Engineering (M.Eng.)
- Master of Mass Communication (M.M.C.)
- Master of Public Health (M.P.H.)
- Master of Science (M.S.)
Professional Doctoral Degree
The professional doctoral degree requires two or more years of professional study past the baccalaureate degree. This degree prepares an individual for entry into the practice of a recognized profession. Examples of professional doctorates are the M.D., Pharm.D., J.D., DVM, Ed.D., Au.D., and DPT degrees.
At South Dakota State University, the professional graduate degrees offered are:
- Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.)
- Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.)
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) program prepare a student to become a scholar; that is, to discover, integrate, and apply knowledge, as well as communicate and disseminate it. A well-prepared doctoral graduate develops the ability to understand and critically evaluate the literature of the field and to apply appropriate principles and procedures to the recognition, evaluation, interpretation, and understanding of issues and problems at the frontiers of knowledge. The doctoral graduate will also have an appropriate awareness of and commitment to the ethical practices appropriate to the field.
At South Dakota State University, the doctoral degrees offered are:
- Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Plans of Study within Degrees
An academic major or primary area of study within a degree program enables students to make in-depth inquiry into a discipline or a professional field of study. Majors consist of a specific set of goals and objectives achieved through a series of courses whose connections define an internal structure and whose sequence advances levels of knowledge and understanding. A major introduces students to a discipline or field of study and related areas through a foundation of theory and method. A major that focuses on a specific discipline draws its courses predominantly from one department. A major that is interdisciplinary or encompasses a professional field of study usually obtains its courses from more than one department.
The number of credit hours required for a major and its organizational structure will vary, depending on whether it aims at disciplinary or professional preparation. Variations are due to the demands of accrediting agencies, certification requirements, professional competence, and expectations. Undergraduate majors require both discipline specific and support courses. Credits required for the major combine with general education core and electives to meet the total degree requirement.
An academic minor enables a student to make an inquiry into a discipline or field of study beyond the major or to investigate a particular content theme. Minors provide a broad introduction to a subject and therefore develop only limited competency. Minors consist of a specific set of objectives achieved through a series of courses. Course offerings occur in a specific department or may draw from several departments (as in the case of a topical or thematic focus). In some cases, all coursework within a minor is proscribed; in others cases, a few courses may form the basis for a wide range of choices. Regental undergraduate minors typically consist of 18 credit hours.
A specialization is a designated plan of study within an existing degree program. It provides a student an alternative to the primary format of the major or it may be one of several tracks within a broad major. Specializations contain courses within the discipline(s) of the existing program. Specializations appear in the institutional catalog and on the transcript.
A certificate program is a sequence, pattern, or group of courses that focus upon an area of specialized knowledge or information with defined outcomes. In the Regental system certificates typically consist of 9-12 credit hours including prerequisites. Completion of a certificate appears on student transcripts.
An emphasis is a concentration within a major and is accomplished by individual student choices within a plan of study. For example, within a major on adult health the student may focus on the older adult. An emphasis is not regarded as a separate program. It may be described in the catalog, but not detailed as a specific plan of study. It is not specified on a transcript.
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