The Top 20 Questions about Undergraduate Degrees Answered

Undergraduate courses

Undergraduate degrees: the top 20 Google questions about undergraduate degrees answered!

Posted 10 September

When you are taking the first step in deciding to go to college, whatever age you may be, sometimes the terms and names of things will be confusing e.g. what does undergraduate mean?

In Ireland, the best sources of information are through the CAO, Department of Education, Quality & Qualification Ireland (QQI),  the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), the college website, and educational blogs/articles. ­Our aim with this blog, is to help you understand these terms and other questions based on the 20 most googled questions from potential students. 

1. What is the meaning of undergraduate?

The term undergraduate according to QQI is that under the NFQ, your level 7 and/or level 8 degree are classed as an undergraduate degree, as usually it is students entering third level education for the first time for example. It is a way for people/employers to determine what your third level education status is as to whether you have an undergraduate or postgraduate degree and what knowledge and skills-set you may have as a result. Once you graduate your undergraduate degree, this means you have the qualifications to either enter employment or further your education to a postgraduate degree. 

An undergraduate is also the description given to a student who is undertaking a degree level academic course at a college or university. You're an undergraduate student if you are studying for your first degree - usually a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc).

2. What is an undergraduate course?

An undergraduate course is awarded by many forms of colleges like institutes of technology, colleges or universities. They can range from business degrees to Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, Commerce, law – whatever you are most interested in. Different colleges will have different offerings and courses, so it is useful to look at their websites for more information. Each course will have a number of modules related to the course along with assignments and exams.

The level 7 is a three-year duration and level 8 is a four-year duration. Once you complete your degree, you can then move on to the next level, if you wish and this would be level 9 postgraduate or masters.

3. What is an undergraduate course in Ireland?

An undergraduate course in Ireland is of a very high standard under the QQI award certification. This means that you are studying a legit course at a high-level college/university as a way of ensuring you get the top-level education when studying there.

International students will have their own versions of degree systems and they can be aligned with the Irish college system to help further your education. Your undergraduate degree will help you enter the career path you like or it can help you decide if you want to change careers. 

For example, at Galway Business School, you can do your undergraduate level 7 Bachelor of Business degree followed by a level 8 Bachelor of Business (Hons) with International Business degree and choose to further your education in National University Ireland Galway (NUIG) or Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology(GMIT),  and study your postgraduate degree in the area you like. 

4. What does an undergraduate student mean?

An undergraduate is someone who has not completed an ordinary or honours degree in third level education. Usually, a student doing their leaving certificate will be moving on to the next level of their education and the level 7 undergraduate degree is their next step. Also, age is irrelevant as you can go can go back to college/university as a mature student to fulfil your dream of receiving a degree. Galway Business School welcomes mature students every year. 

5. What is undergraduate education?

Undergraduate education is a level in the Irish third level education system where you can educate yourself in an area you love through a college, institute or university and receive a degree upon graduation. The Irish system is designed and certified by the QQI and consists of undergraduate, postgraduate and doctorate level based on the levels 7 & 8 undergraduate/bachelors (Honours), 9 postgraduate/masters and 10 doctorate/PHD. 

6. What is an undergraduate school?

An undergraduate school is a third level education facility that caters for students seeking to progress into the undergraduate degree. Many forms of colleges, institutes and universities will provide this form of education for students who want to make that first step in receiving a degree. At Galway Business School, we provide an undergraduate course in business for students who have an interest in this area. We follow the QQI guidelines and ensure that you get the most out of your education providing a full-time and part-time course option to cater for your lifestyle. 

7. How long does an undergraduate degree take?

Sometimes, colleges, institutes and universities will have courses level 7 of three years duration and level 8 of four years. In GBS, you have the option to do the level 7 and continue to level 8 straight after, thus still equal to four years. But ultimately, your undergraduate degree should equal four years before you can qualify for a postgraduate or master’s degree, so a bit of advice would be to complete your degree up to level 8 as you will be way better off in the long run.

So, to break down a college year – year one will consist of semester one and semester two. After each semester, you will have exams based on one or all modules (depending). Each module will require extra hours of study outside of the classroom to ensure you are getting the best grades and a college week can be anywhere from 20-25 hours a week for full time and 8-10 hours for part time. Holidays and mid-terms are also allocated.

8. What's the difference between undergraduate and postgraduate?

The difference between an undergraduate and a postgraduate degree is when you start your undergraduate degree, more often then not, you have no qualifications in third level education and this is your starting point to do so. Then, once you graduate your undergraduate degree, you can now go to the next level which is your postgraduate degree. It’s kind of like getting keys to unlock the next door of your education, meaning your undergraduate degree is the key to moving forward. The undergraduate will have many modules in one year. 

For example, at Galway Business School you will study marketing, accounting, communications and with the postgraduate degree, you can special in one area you like in an institute or university. For example, a module you study could be business law and here you are learning the basics of the module and now, you can do a postgraduate/masters degree in business law & human rights and work in that field. 

9. Can you do two undergraduate degrees?

Yes, you can do two undergraduate degrees. An example of this could be, you chose to study nursing, so you did an undergraduate degree in college. After some time, you wanted a career change and wanted to learn about business, so you applied for a business degree. These are two completely different careers that require different knowledge and skill sets, so doing two undergraduate degrees is possible.

 However, if you did a course either a PLC or something else – look into the undergraduate course requirements as you can use this to get into college also. For example, if you did a PLC course in computers & IT, you could apply for a business degree or computer science degree with this qualification. At Galway Business School, we accept mature applicants under our QQI approved Recognition of Other Learning (ROL) and Recognition of Prior Experiential Learning (RPEL) policies. Find out more about the application process. 

GBS Graduates

GBS Graduates

10. Is a BA an undergraduate degree? 

A Bachelor of Arts (BA) is typically a three-year undergraduate degree program that provides students with a broader education. A BA degree covers the theoretical knowledge on certain subjects, thus requiring fewer credits that are directly linked to a particular area.  

It is a degree of lesser standing than the BA Hons, which is more academically demanding and requires greater levels of learning and achievement.

11. Is BA Hons an undergraduate degree?

Yes, the BA (Hons) is an undergraduate degree. The BA Hons is the Bachelor of Arts International which is four years.  A BA (Hons) is required if a student wishes to pursue further higher education and get a Master's degree or a Doctorate. 

Many universities and colleges offer both honours and non-honours bachelor's degree variation. A “Bachelors” or “Honours” Level covers degrees with titles such as Bachelor of Arts, BA (Hons), Bachelor of Science, etc. These are standard higher education qualifications recognised across the Ireland and Europe.

12. Is bachelor and undergraduate the same?

The term undergraduate is the category each course comes under alongside the level of the degree. The term bachelor is the degree itself like bachelor of arts, business, commerce, science as well as the bachelor of business (hons) for example. They are all part of the same category as a result. 

13. Is a bachelor degree undergraduate or postgraduate?

A bachelor degree is undergraduate as it is the beginning of your education in third level. It is usually your first university degree designed to introduce students to the knowledge base within a specific discipline.

Postgraduate study refers to the range of courses available to students who have completed undergraduate studies, they are referred to as Masters of Business Administration (MBA) or Masters of Science (MSC). Postgraduate studies require a higher level of understanding, greater independence and more specialised knowledge than undergraduate study.

14. What degree do you get from undergraduate studies?

When you graduate your level 7 business course, you are awarded by QQI with a Bachelor of Business (BBus) ordinary degree. A level 8 is Bachelor of Business (Hons) degree for example. 

Within this grading, you can also receive alongside this, a grade of first-class honours which equals to a 1.1 which is a total average of 70% and over. Second class honours or 2.1 is next and so on.  So, on your official certificate, it will say Bachelor of Business (Hons) with first class honours. 

15. What is an undergraduate certificate?

An undergraduate certificate is a very important piece of paper for you when you graduate from your studies. Your can go straight into the work force, go on to study further in your postgraduate degree, study abroad in Europe or America, and the beauty of getting your degree is that it will never be taken away from you regardless of where you will be in your life. 

 It’s what most employers mean when they’re looking for an ‘undergraduate’ or ‘first’ degree on a job posting.

16. Is a diploma an undergraduate degree? 

No, a diploma is not an undergraduate degree. When deciding what education you want to pursue, there are many options such as a certificate, diploma, or degree program and deciding on which one to study should depend on the kind of job you're looking for and the time you have to commit to the program. A diploma or certificate is awarded to students who have received a certain type of short training by an educational provider, whereas a bachelor’s degree is of a higher standard and has a duration of three or four years. In general, certificate and diploma programs take less time to complete than a degree and are more focused on a specific skill, so you can get a job as soon as possible. 

National Framework Qualifications (QQI, 2020)

National Framework Qualifications (QQI, 2020)

17. How many credits for an undergraduate degree?

If you’re preparing to become an international student and pursue a degree in Ireland, it’s important you figure out how credits are awarded at Irish universities in terms of ECTS (European Credits Transfer Scheme).

The National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) is a system of 10 levels which allows the different standards and levels qualifications to be compared.

According to the QQI website, qualifications frameworks describe the qualifications of an education and training system and how they interlink. Over 150 countries are now developing, or have developed, a national qualifications framework.

NFQ has outlined the following credits: 

- level 7 degree = 180 ECTS

- level 8 degree = 240 ECTS

A masters would equal 90-120 ECTS. It is a measurement of the workload to be completed by students in order for them to pass /graduate and progress further. 

18. How to get an undergraduate degree?

This is a good question and there are so many answers as it doesn’t have to be conditioned by your leaving certificate. However, you can get an undergraduate degree through your grades in your leaving certificate. This is the most common form and most emphasised by schools. You can also do it through a FETAC LEVEL 5/6 course in either a secondary school or institute of technology – where if you pass the one-year course, you can enter college through the CAO. You can do governmental schemes that help people get back into education and you can do apprenticeships and use your skill as a base to do an undergraduate degree to help boost your career opportunities. 

19 How to get into business school undergraduate programmes?

You can apply through the CAO form application of students in leaving certificate. You can also contact the college directly and meet with the academic coordinator to talk you through your options and if you are an international student, ensure that you meet the requirements of the Irish system like the level of English for example. 

At Galway Business School, we can arrange to meet you to answer any questions you may have and assist you through the application process. Find out more about the application process here

20. What if my English level isn’t good to study an undergraduate degree?

At Galway Business School, we have a sister company called Galway Cultural Institute (GCI), where you can study English courses and improve your English to a high standard. From here, you can then enter into GBS and study your undergraduate business degree. GBS/GCI will support you in your studies either way and you will be a great addition.

We also offer pathway courses for our international students wishing to access higher education programmes in Ireland. Pathway programmes generally last one academic year, and they do not end with a degree.

Hopefully, from reading this blog post, it has made things easier to understand. It is not that complicated once you experience it for yourself.

Galway Business School have an amazing support system for all students of all ages as the GBS team are always there to answer your questions and give you guidance along the way. It is an amazing achievement when you graduate your undergraduate degree and the ability to progress further is a new opportunity, you may not have ever considered – so invest in your future!

Tessa Lyons

Graduation 2019