A Guide to Selecting Your Degree

charting course in education

Your degree choice directly affects your future career opportunities and ultimate success. When making this choice, consider your current career path, future job markets, person timeline and need for flexibility. Here are a few questions you need to answer before you select a degree:

Your degree options are virtually unlimited, however many degrees fall under one of the following areas of study:

  • Computer Science
  • Engineering
  • Electronics
  • Health Care or Medical
  • Criminal Justice
  • Business Administration
  • Liberal Arts - Math, Science, English, Etc.
  • Education
  • Psychology / Social and Human Services

As you can see these areas cover most of your career options. In addition these degree areas can be further narrowed down to very specific areas of concentration. Having pre-determined career goals can help make choosing your degree a simple process.

Your Current Career
If you plan to stick to your current career path, your degree selection options are relatively easy. You simply need to figure out which degree is most aligned with your career. Since your military experience can be translated into college credit toward your degree, this option can help you get your degree faster.

This information is available through many sources including your education service office, VA, and school admissions counselors. You can get free, no obligation, degree counseling from your education service officer, Navy College representative or the VA. To find a list of schools, visit the Military.com School Finder.

Future Career Opportunities
Although factoring future job growth into your degree choice may mean taking more classes, increasing your timeline and expense, it is well worth the time and effort. In fact combining your personal interests with the forecasted job market is a sure way to make the most of your education benefits.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor the future top career fields include:

  • Computer Engineering, Network Management and Support
  • Health Care Professions
  • Education (Both K-12 and Higher Education).
  • Human Resource and Social Work
  • Environmental/Hazardous Material Management


Fast and Flexible
If the focus of your degree is less important than the timing, consider a degree that allows you to use your military experience (free electives) and credit-by-exams (CLEP). Associate of Science and Bachelor of Science degrees are often the most liberal when it comes to using your military experience and CLEPs.

Some degrees are more flexible than others; for instance, Business Administration degrees are often the fastest and most flexible. In addition a BA can be as narrow or broadly focused as you like and nearly every college offers business degree programs.

Visit the Military.com School Finder to locate a fast and flexible degree program that suits your needs.

Degree Level
Although it is important to select your degree level, it's not critical. You don't have to have an associate's (lower level) degree before you go after your bachelor's. In fact, in most cases it saves you time and effort to focus on your bachelor's degree first. Getting your associate's first may mean you will have to find a school that will accept the transfer of your lower level credits before you can start working on your upper level degree.

Next Step
Choosing your degree is only one step toward your education goal. Once you have made your degree choice you will need to find the school that offers your degree and has programs that fit your needs. Visit the Military.com School Finder to take the next step toward your future.

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GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at www.benefits.va.gov/gibill
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