Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate

A college education is of prime importance in a student’s life. Looking at the industry standards in this present generation, a minimum of a graduate degree is considered for employment.

There are many courses available in the bachelor’s as well as a master’s degree. The colleges will have several undergraduate and graduate programs available for the benefit of the students.

The students at college will also be of different educational backgrounds. A few may be enrolled right out of school, a few would have completed a bachelor’s degree in the same or any other college and joined a master’s degree program.

Overall, there are only two types of degree programs available for the students. One is the undergraduate and the other is the graduate degree program.

Undergraduate vs Graduate

The difference between an undergraduate and a graduate is, the former does not have any prior college bachelor’s degree, whereas the latter has a bachelor’s degree to pursue a master’s degree course. An undergraduate student is right from school, joined college to get a bachelor’s degree. A graduate student has joined the college to do his higher studies.

Undergraduate vs Graduate


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonUndergraduateGraduate
Eligibility CriteriaA candidate who has completed high school or an equivalent High school diploma or GED (General Education Development) is eligible to join a bachelor’s degree program at a college as an undergraduate student.A candidate is considered eligible to join the college only when he/she has a bachelor’s degree to do a master’s degree program.
Course/DegreeThe candidate will get his/her bachelor’s degree once the course is completed successfully. Some students join associate degree programs after school, once they complete it, they get their respective degree in hand.The candidate shall get a master’s degree or a doctoral degree based on what he/she has opted for.
Candidate’s Age groupThe students who apply for an undergraduate will be between 17 to 20 years.The age group of students is a bit higher than undergraduate students. Normally above 21 years.
Duration of the ProgramA bachelor’s degree is anywhere between 3 to 4 years whereas an associate degree is for 2 yearsA master’s degree will go up to 2 years to complete it, whereas a doctoral course may go beyond 6 years also
Evaluation for the GradesMostly the undergraduate programs have exams as the only mode of evaluation which can grant them the gradesResearch Projects, Presentations and at times publication of the research work will be considered for their grades.


Who is Undergraduate?

An undergraduate degree is for students who graduated successfully from high school and wants to study more by joining a college taking their preferred choice of subject. Undergraduate degree courses offer strong fundamental knowledge to the students through theory as well as practical application.

Undergraduate degree programs have two categories in it. One is the bachelor’s degree program and the other is the associate degree program.

Bachelor’s degree program may go up to 4 years to complete it. An associate degree program takes just 2 years to complete it.

A Bachelor’s degree is always considered far knowledgeable than an associate degree. The students can also opt to study bachelor’s after completing their associate program, this may also result in reduced duration and does not take beyond 2 more years to complete the same.

At the undergraduate level, the students get to learn a lot of things in many domains. This is considered vast, as the chosen subject will have many industrial applications which leads them to learn a lot of fundamental aspects.

Regular examinations or evaluations are conducted to understand the learning capacity of the student. This happens both as theoretical as well as practical examination.

In simple words, an Undergraduate degree is the first study after high school in a specific domain. Graduating in flying colors may have open a lot of opportunities for a master’s degree with a scholarship.


Who is Graduate?

A graduate degree is for students who already have a bachelor’s degree from college who wants to study further in a specific area of his choice. Graduate degree courses are advanced courses that involve a lot of research work on the chosen field.

Graduate degree programs are of two categories, Master’s degree, and Doctoral degree. Master’s degree program lasts for 2 years to complete it whereas Doctoral programs may go beyond 6 years to complete it.

A graduate degree is a specialized version of the study on the discipline chosen in the bachelor’s The student gets to apply the fundamentals learned in the bachelor’s and gain more knowledge to implement something new.

The graduate degree courses are mostly self-study and the classroom sessions are limited. It is expected of the student to refer to books from the library and do their research using the college’s infrastructure.

The teacher intervention in a graduate degree program is more, as the student can approach the specialized faculty member to clarify their doubts in the area of research. The student’s exposure towards the subject is extensive as they can reach any level during their graduate degree program.

A graduate degree program can also be done part-time while the student is working in the same field. This gives them practical knowledge alongside.


Main Differences Between Undergraduate and Graduate

  1. The main difference between undergraduate and graduate degrees is, the student can get a bachelor’s degree or an associate degree right after school whereas a graduate degree can be earned only if he/she has a bachelor’s degree at college.
  2. Undergraduate students learn the fundamentals of the chosen field extensively. Graduate courses allow the student to specialize in a specific area of the subject chosen.
  3. The duration to complete an undergraduate course is a maximum of 4 years whereas a graduate degree can be procured in 2 to 6 years depending on the degree opted.
  4. The students are graded about their examination scores at the undergraduate level, whereas the graduate level entitles presentation and project reports as the evaluation criteria to grade the students.
  5. At the undergraduate level, the teacher’s guidance is more but in the case of graduate degree courses, it is limited, and students have to switch on self-study mode to perform well.
Difference Between Undergraduate and Graduate


  1. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2005-05100-011
  2. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ978906
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