What Comes after a Bachelor’s Degree: 11 Options after Graduation

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

When you finish college, you have many options when it comes to your next steps, but that can also feel overwhelming. If you're wondering what comes after a bachelor's degree, this guide will provide you with 12 traditional and unique ideas.

[Featured Image] A group of college students pose for a picture at graduation after earning their bachelor's degrees.

Graduating from college is a great accomplishment. You officially join approximately 52.8 million Americans who hold a bachelor's degree, according to the US Census Bureau [1]. However, what comes after a bachelor's degree?

What comes next looks different for everyone, and if you're still trying to figure out what you want to do, you're not alone. This guide explores options available to help you decide on your path forward.   

What comes after a bachelor's degree?  

"What comes after a bachelor's degree" is a question that has a different answer for every person. Some people continue their education. Others go on to get a job in their chosen fields, while some spend time volunteering, starting a business, or taking a gap year to recharge.

The truth is, what comes after a bachelor’s degree is up to you. To make the best choice moving forward, consider all the opportunities ahead.  

12 things you can do after finishing your bachelor's degree 

Deciding what to do after your bachelor's degree can be an exciting time with endless possibilities. If you're looking for the next step during post-graduate, consider one of these 12 options.   

Read more: How to Get a Job with No Experience: A Job Seeker’s Guide

1. Take part in an internship.

If you know of a field that interests you, an internship in the field can offer numerous benefits. First, it gives you first-hand experience to see if the field, industry, or company suits you. Second, it may enhance your resume, especially if you need more work experience. Finally, internships can lead to jobs, either working for the company where you interned or by gaining some letters of recommendation from that company's leadership and using them to apply for other jobs. 

2. Get your master's degree. 

Many students earn a master's degree upon graduating with their bachelor's degree. You'll discover many advantages to continuing your education immediately, including being used to studying and having the college lifestyle. If you return to school years later, getting back into that mode may take time. Going to grad school may be necessary for certain jobs, so you'll want to consider your career goals. Even if it's not required, having a master's degree can be advantageous, depending on your career goals and if you would like to increase your earning potential. 

Read more: What Is a Master’s Degree?

3. Go to work in your field. 

One of the traditional options for recent college graduates is entering the workforce in their chosen field. Even if you don't start out with your dream job, an entry-level job is a great way to gain experience, hone your skills, and work your way up to your ultimate career goal. 

Read more: What Is an Entry-Level Job?

4. Take a year off. 

Some college graduates take a year off between school and getting a job, also known as a gap year. It can give you time to clear your head and decide what you want to do with your life. You can also take time to explore new opportunities. Some people use this opportunity to travel, meet new people, and experience different ways of life.

Another option for taking time off is moving back to your hometown. Spend some time recharging after working hard on your degree. Work on your resume. Connect with old friends, network, and focus on a passion that you could eventually turn into a career, like photography or graphic design. 

5. Volunteer. 

You can also spend time giving back to your community or even a community halfway around the world. Volunteer work also looks good on your resume, and it can help you build skills like empathy, problem-solving, communication, time management, and interpersonal interactions. Spending time helping others may give you a renewed sense of purpose and help you discover a new potential career goal. You may decide to work for a nonprofit or go into a field where you can make a difference, like health care.  

6. Start a business. 

Whether you are having a challenge finding a job, are undecided about what you want to do, or have a phenomenal idea, you might enjoy starting your own business. You may have a passion for something you'd like to explore further. Maybe you like gardening and want to open a plant nursery, or you love animals and want to start a pet-sitting company. Just remember that becoming an entrepreneur comes with its own share of challenges and requires dedication and persistence. It also takes funding. The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has resources that may be helpful.  

7. Earn a certification. 

Continuing your education sometimes means going to grad school. You can pad your resume, learn new skills, and establish your expertise by earning certifications. A certification could help set you apart from your competition in the job market. You might gain an in-demand certification in project management, health care, supply chain, marketing, or business analysis to help you decide on a potential career. 

8. Get a part-time job to build your skills and resume. 

If you aren't ready to get a full-time job in your industry, consider getting a part-time or seasonal job. Some jobs include:

  • Waiting tables

  • Working as a cashier in a retail store

  • Babysitting

  • Working as a receptionist

  • Delivering groceries

No matter your chosen job, you'll build essential skills, like communication and critical thinking, and gain some work experience to add to your resume. You may find that you enjoy a job you never considered before. 

Read more: What Are Job Skills and Why Do They Matter?

9. Teach. 

Teaching is an option for almost anyone with a bachelor's degree and appropriate certification. Another option is to travel abroad and teach English. Schools in many countries seek English speakers to teach the language to children, and the requirements are often less strict than in the United States. You may even find a passion for teaching and turn it into a lifelong career.  

10. Work at your school. 

Perhaps you've graduated and are not ready to leave campus life behind, but you're also not interested in pursuing another degree. Consider looking for an administrative job at your school. You could become an academic advisor or work in the admissions office. You may find that you're passionate about education and want to make a long-term career of it. 

11. Take additional courses. 

Some people just don't know what they want to do after getting their bachelor’s degree. You may have chosen a major you were passionate about, but it doesn't exactly translate into a career. Or maybe you majored in something that no longer interests you. One way to experiment with new ideas without making a big commitment is to take additional courses. You can take classes at your school as a non-degree-seeking learner. You can also turn to your local community college or look for classes you can take online from home. 

Getting started with Coursera 

On Coursera, you'll find thousands of courses on a variety of topics from some of the top business and educational institutions in the world. Take a class that will help hone your skills, like Connected Leadership offered by Yale University. Explore a new field with a course like IBM’s Introduction to Project Management. You can even take a course that will help you start your own business, like Fundamentals of Social Media Advertising offered by Meta. 

Article sources

  1. United States Census Bureau. "A Higher Degree, https://www.census.gov/library/visualizations/2022/comm/a-higher-degree.html." Accessed February 17, 2024. 

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