If you recently completed high school, you've probably been at the receiving end of several unsolicited questions and opinions. Maybe you've managed to shrug off most of them and avoid the sudden, unwanted stress of thinking about what the future has in store for you. However, you've undoubtedly been confused about some terms thrown at you. If "honours degree" or "Hons." was one of them and your curiosity led you here, then you're at the right place. So what does an honours degree mean? We're here to clear up any confusion you might have about what an honours degree is and what it means for your career. Honours vs. Bachelors degree: which degree is better? Read further so that you can confidently take your next step up the education ladder.
What is an Honours Degree?
Before we discuss what an honours degree entails, you should be aware that depending on the nation you are studying in, it may signify different things. However, it does have a universally applicable core definition. A Bachelor's degree with honours is one that is intended to be of a higher calibre than a regular Bachelor's degree. The curriculum for these degrees calls for greater achievement while still in the undergraduate stage. It introduces knowledge in a particular setting that encourages choosing the course of research and professional endeavour.
While several nations, like the US, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Scotland, offer honours degrees as a distinct year of study, the UK and Canada offer them as inclusive degrees, meaning they last the same amount of time as a conventional Bachelor's degree. Deep learning standards and subject-specific specialisation were created to set the honours degree apart from the Bachelor's. The honours degree quickly spread to other countries, including India. It was first used by many famous colleges and institutions, who then began to provide their courses to their pupils. One of them, Central Universities, nevertheless provides its students with a variety of well-liked honours courses.
What are the Types of Honours Degrees?
The nicest part about earning an honours degree is that you can do so in various ways depending on your goals and preferred study methods. Here are some of the types of honours degrees you can opt for:
1. Single Honours Degree
After completing your undergraduate studies, you may choose to pursue a stand-alone honours degree, which is regarded as an additional course. You can take a course that combines three disciplines into one honours degree, such as Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, to specialise in one of your undergraduate subjects. In contrast to integrated or embedded honours, where you finish your honours requirements throughout the course of your study, this variety differs by needing an additional year of study.
2. Joint/Combined Honours Degree
If you choose to pursue a joint or combined honours degree, you can study various disciplines at the undergraduate level independently. This is for all the top students who can't be content to specialise in just one subject and desire the chance to have two or even three subject specialisations as part of their conventional undergraduate degree. You select different study modules for each subject, and each one is offered by a different department or school within the University. This is how it works. Therefore, unless you aim high and select three disciplines, each would account for a third of your total mark.
3. A Degree with an Honours Project
One of the simplest options for earning an honours degree is this one. It would be a typical three-year degree that includes a project or dissertation in the last year of study. Additionally, it would have a credit value of 360 as compared to a conventional Bachelor's degree's credit value of 300 and the absence of the dissertation.
What is a Bachelor's Degree?
In the UK, universities give students something called a Bachelor's degree. This degree covers a wider range of subjects and usually takes less time than an honours degree, which focuses on one specific area and takes longer to complete, like three or four years.
People who want to learn about many different things or don't want to specialise choose a Bachelor's degree. It can also be important for certain jobs or be a starting point for more learning or career growth. Another thing to note is that a Bachelor's degree can still be valuable. Some professions may require you to have a Bachelor's degree as a basic qualification. It can also serve as a solid foundation for further education or professional development. In other words, it's a stepping stone that can open doors to more advanced studies or career opportunities.
Types of Bachelor's Degrees
There are plenty of types of Bachelor's degrees as it is one of the most opted degrees by students. Here are some of the most famous Bachelor's degrees students go for:
1. Bachelor of Arts (BA)
A Bachelor's degree BA degree includes a wide variety of courses in the humanities, social sciences, and occasionally even natural sciences. Without spending much time on one subject, it offers a well-rounded education.
2. Bachelor of Science (BSc)
Just like a Bachelor's degree, a BSc degree provides a general education in a variety of scientific fields like physics, chemistry, biology, zoology, geology, etc.
3. Bachelor of Law (LLB)
A Bachelor's degree in LLB is a general law degree that introduces students to the foundations of legal studies. It might not provide a level of legal specialisation as deep as an honours degree.
4. Bachelors of Education (BEd)
Bachelor's degrees in the Bachelor of Education (BEd) are primarily intended for people who want to work in education. Although it might not go as thoroughly into certain topic areas, it gives a foundation in education theory and instructional practices.
Honours Degree Vs. Bachelor's Degree- The Key Differences
Though these degree types seem almost similar, they differ in many ways. Here is an explanation of what differentiates them from each other:
1. First off, it goes without saying that Bachelor's degrees are significantly simpler to pursue.
2. A higher, more specialised level of research is required throughout an honours degree, and it differs from a Bachelor's degree in how new knowledge is generated each year.
3. Whether you finish it after your undergraduate studies or incorporate it inside, it would also involve passing more exams and prerequisites than a Bachelor's degree.
4. A Bachelor's degree requires you to study each subject separately, whereas an honours degree allows you to specialise in one or two disciplines, giving you access to a particular, integrated curriculum.
5. Additionally, an honours degree would be your passport to earning a doctorate or a master's by research.
The value of an honours degree versus a Bachelor's degree depends on the context and the specific program of study. In general, Honors degrees may indicate that a student has taken additional coursework, completed a thesis or other research project, or maintained a high GPA, and could be seen as more rigorous or challenging than a Bachelor's degree. This could make them more desirable to certain employers or graduate programs. It may also open some career opportunities or open more options to pursue higher education. However, it's also important to note that the value of an honours degree varies depending on the field of study, and it's not always necessary to pursue an honours degree to achieve success in a particular career. It also depends on the educational institution; some universities have highly esteemed Honors programs, while others might not carry as much weight.
What is the Grading System for an Honours Degree?
The grading system for an Honours Degree is typically based on a student's performance throughout their studies. It involves assigning grades to indicate how well a student has done. In many universities, the grading scale ranges from A (the highest) to F (a failing grade). Here's a breakdown:
B: Very Good
E: Pass, but not great
Students are usually required to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) to earn an Honours Degree. This means they must consistently achieve good to excellent grades in their courses. Sometimes, Honours Degrees may have additional requirements like completing a thesis or capstone project. If you’d like to learn more about the grading systems of different countries such as US, UK and Australia, find our respective guides here:
Which one to Choose: Honours or Bachelor's Degree?
Choosing between an Honours Degree and a Bachelor's Degree depends on your goals and interests:
1. Choose an Honours Degree if you want to specialise deeply in one field, are passionate about research, and are ready for more challenging coursework. It's great for those aiming for advanced careers or further education.
2. Choose a Bachelor's Degree if you prefer a broader education, want to explore various subjects, or are unsure of your career path. It's a good foundation for many jobs and can be a stepping stone to more specialised degrees later.
Honours are for in-depth expertise, while Bachelor's offers a well-rounded education. Think about your passions and where you see yourself in the future to make the best choice.
Top Universities for an Honours Degree
Some top universities are known for offering Honours Degrees:
1. Harvard University:
Harvard University is famous for its rigorous academic programs and research opportunities. Read our blog to find out more about Harvard University acceptance rate.
2. Oxford University:
Oxford University is renowned for its long history of academic excellence and specialised Honours programs. Read our blog to know about Oxford University Application requirements, deadlines and FAQs.
3. Stanford University:
Stanford University is known for its cutting-edge research and strong Honours options. Read about Standord University acceptance rate.
4. Cambridge University:
Cambridge University offers a wide range of Honours courses and has a strong academic reputation. Read our detailed guide on Cambridge University.
5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for its focus on science and technology Honours programs. Find out in detail about the offerings from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
6. University of California, Berkeley:
The University of California, Berkeley offers diverse Honours options and is a hub for innovation.
7. University of Sydney:
The University of Sydney is a top choice for Honours programs in Australia.
8. University of Toronto:
The University of Toronto is known for its academic excellence and Honours opportunities. Here is complete guide to University of Toronto.
Top Universities for a Bachelor's Degree
Some top universities are known for offering Bachelor’s Degrees:
1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT):
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is known for its focus on science and technology Bachelor's programs.
2. Cambridge University:
Cambridge University offers a wide range of Bachelor's courses and has a strong academic reputation.
3. Harvard University:
Harvard University is famous for its rigorous academic programs and research opportunities.
4. Stanford University:
Stanford University is widely known for its cutting-edge research and strong Bachelor's options.
5. Oxford University:
Oxford University is renowned for its long history of academic excellence and specialised Bachelor's programs.
To sum up, both honours and Bachelor's degrees have their own set of benefits and drawbacks. Honours degrees offer more specialised and advanced coursework, which can make graduates more attractive to employers in their field of study. However, Bachelor's degrees are often more flexible and can allow students to explore different areas of interest before committing to a specific career path. Ultimately, deciding between an honour and a Bachelor's degree will depend on the individual student's career goals, academic interests, and personal preferences. It is important to weigh each option's pros and cons and seek advice from academic advisors, professors, and industry professionals before making a decision.