Degree vs Major: Difference and Comparison

Education is one of the most important aspects for the majority of individuals in the world. A higher degree is essential to secure a job to sustain oneself and one’s loved ones.


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Therefore, after formal schooling, individuals pursue their interests by enrolling in higher studies. 

Key Takeaways

  1. A degree is an academic qualification you earn after completing a course of study, while a major is a specific subject area within a degree program.
  2. A degree provides a broader range of skills and knowledge, while a major allows you to specialize in a particular subject area.
  3. The degree is listed first on a resume, followed by the major, and it is the degree that confers the official academic qualification.

Degree vs. Major

A degree is an academic credential awarded to a student upon completing a program of study at a college or university. A major is a specific area of study within a degree program. A degree represents completing a program of study, while a major is a specific study area within that program.

Degree vs Major

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDegree Major
Number of subjectsDegrees require a student to study several subjects. These subjects may or may not be related to each other.Majors mainly focus on one or a small group of subjects that will always connect.
Number of classesA degree requires a student to attend a larger number of classes. This may range from a minimum of 35-40 classes.The classes teaching one’s major will be most of the minimum 35-40 classes.
CreditsTo complete a degree, one must attain a particular number of credits.A major also allows one to attain credits, but this number is less than the degree requirement.
TypesThere are four different types of degrees. They can be bachelors, Associates, and others.The types of majors depend on the various subjects like Biology, Computer science, and others.

What is a Degree? 

A degree is an academic program. There are four types of degrees. The first degree generally taken up by individuals is the Bachelor’s degree.

The prerequisite is that the student must hold a high school diploma. The bachelor’s degree comprises four years. The student will receive a comprehensive understanding of a particular field.

There are different bachelor’s degrees depending on the various majors students choose. A student can also enroll in an associate program. This is of a shorter duration.

However, this individual cannot pursue higher studies. 

The Master’s degree allows one to specialize in any subjects in which the student completed their Bachelor’s degree. This degree lasts for two years.

A student looking to enroll in a Master’s degree must obtain a bachelor’s degree. A Master’s degree requires a student to create a thesis or capstone project to graduate.

Finally, the highest level of education is the Doctorate, also known as Ph.D. To enroll in this degree, one has to have recommendations from other professionals or respected individuals.

This may take many years to complete. To receive a doctorate, one must create a research project or dissertation. 


What is a Major? 

A major is a subset of a degree. This term refers to a subject or group of subjects about each other. A student chooses to focus on these subjects and study them in detail.

For example, if an individual majors in computer science, they will study subjects about it.

Upon completing all the classes, assignments, and tasks, the individual will receive a Certificate of completion regarding the Bachelor in Computer Science. 

Many universities and colleges work based on the credit system. This system requires a student to receive approximately 120 credits to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

This is true for 59 courses among the total 85 courses. 

Out of these 120 credits, one has to complete 36 credit hours in their major. This means that a large portion of a degree depends on the student’s performance in their major classes. 

A student pursuing their Master’s only requires 30 to 40 credit hours. 

Declaring a major is important as it is the basis of a student’s career for years. 

A minor is the other subset of a degree. This subset is the secondary focus of a degree. It allows one to procure added expertise in a particular field. 


Main Differences Between Degree and a Major

  1. A degree is a program that involves several subjects. A major involves only one subject and may include a few others about it.
  2. To complete a degree, one needs to attain 120 credit hours. Out of this, the student must receive 36 credit hours in the major of their choice. This number, however, is subject to change depending on the country. 
  3. A degree involves a major as well as a minor. 
  4. A degree is dependent on the major one pursues. So a major in biology would result in one attaining a bachelor’s in Biology. 
  5. A degree requires an individual to attend more classes than a major. 
Difference Between Degree and Major
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