The scope of a university degree has expanded as the education process has become more complex over time. As more students enter college and university studies, the schools have done an outstanding job to keep up with the needs of an ever-growing student body.
The university degree program that operates in the United States today is an offshoot of the long-established university system of England, where Oxford and Cambridge Universities set the pace.
The university degree system in the US was established at a time when the country was a nation struggling to establish itself on all fronts. The option of university education was limited to a very small segment of the population - sons of only the wealthiest white families.
The small numbers of students "qualified" for university degree programs was miniscule compared to that of England so the US system was tailored to meet the needs of the emerging nation while being influenced by the English traditions.
The original university degree was awarded after the completion of four years of study. If more education was desired, a student of the day shipped off to England to study for an advanced degree.
Today's university degree programs specialize in individual areas of study, such as math, science, medicine, and the like, but in the early days a university degree covered the same educational ground for all students in attendance.
Over time, traditions changed and so did laws, allowing more and more students the opportunity to enter into university degree programs than ever before. As more students enrolled, interest in a more specialized degree of study did too.
Eventually, it became common for students to complete university degree programs in the fields of study mentioned above plus many, many more.
And interest in even higher education, beyond the baccalaureate level, led to university degree programs at the master's and doctorate levels, too, providing the chance to advance studies without going abroad.