It usually only takes students 2 years to complete a 60-credit associate's degree. Associates's degrees are offered at community colleges and vocational schools, along with a few 4-year colleges and universities. Associate's degrees are also offered online from a variety of non-profit and for-profit colleges.
Students enrolled in associate's programs are required to complete general education, elective, and major courses. Students who decide to pursue an associate's degrees online will have the convenience of completing their studies whenever or wherever they want. Online associate degree programs are perfect for working professionals who need to pursue a career while completing a college degree.
Earning an associate's degree will help students develop a technical or professional level expertise in a specific subject while completing general education requirements that can be used for a four-year bachelor's degree. Students can enroll in an associate's degree in preparation for a career or use an associate's degree as a stepping stone toward a four-year college or university.
Many companies recruit individuals who have completed an Associate's of Applied Science (AAS) program with a specialized, career-oriented focus. These programs emphasize job training and typically are not designed to prepare students for a four-year college degree.
Credit obtained through an associate degree can often be applied towards a bachelor's degree if earned at a regionally accredited institution. Credits earned from a nationally accredited colleges or school tyically cannot be transfered to a regionally accredited institution (which includes most 4-year colleges and universities.)
- A.A. - "Associate of Arts"
Credits earned from an Associate of Arts degree program are intended to be applied towards a bachelor's degree program. In order to transfer credits from an associate's degree to a bachelor's degree they must be earned at regionally accredited higher education institution.
- A.A.S. - "Associate of Applied Science"
The Associate of Applied Science degree is intended for students seeking vocational training in a specific career field. Credits earned can also be applied towards a bachelor's degree if earned at a regionally accredited institution.
- A.S. - "Associate of Science"
The Associate of Science degree, like the Associate of Arts degree, is intended to prepare students to pursue a bachelor's degree at four-year college or university. Credits earned through an A.S. may be applied toward a bachelor's degree if earned at regionally accredited school or college.
- Occupational Degree
Similar to an A.A.S. degree, an occupational degree is intended for students seeking job-specific training, who want to be prepared to work after completing their program. Students can also apply earned credits towards bachelor's programs if earned at a regionally accredited institution.
Associate Degrees by Subject
According to the Higher Education General Information Survey (HEGIS) nonvocational degrees are classified as "Arts and Sciences or General Programs," and vociation associates degrees are classified as "Business and commerce technologies", "Data processing technologies", "Mechanical/engineering technologies", "Health services/paramedical technologies", "Public service-related technologies" and "Natural science technologies". Below are some of the most popular career-oriented associate degrees listed by subject.
Featured Associate Degrees and Programs
Below you can explore a selection of associate degrees offered both online and on-campus by accredited colleges and career schools located throughout the United States. To learn more about a specific school or program simply click on the "Request Info" button to the right of the school. You can view more schools by click on the page numbers at the top and bottom of the selection.
The Value of Earning an Associate's Degree
The value of an associate's degree is often undervalued by students and aspiring career professionals. While an associate's degree isn't necessarily as valuable as a bachelor's or master's degree, for many, an associate's degree is the perfect choice. The following are just a few of the reasons why an associates degree may be the right degree for you.
- Cost effective and affordable. One of the biggest benefits of an associate degree is that it is much more affordable than a bachelor's or master's degree. The average cost of tuition for a two-year associate's degree is $2,544 per year. This is much lower than the average cost of tuition and fees for a bachelor's degree at private colleges - $30,094, for state residents at public colleges - $8,893, and out-of-state residents attending public schools - $22,203.
- They are skill oriented. Unlike the majority of bachelor's degrees that focus a large portion of curriculum on liberal arts, career-oriented associates degrees focus almost exclusively on courses and knowledge that will be directly applicable in the work place. In fact, some associate's degree provide as much, if not more, technical and real-world professional training than bachelor's degrees. Sinces students only have two-years to prepare for a career, many vocational schools and community college pack as much information and skill-oriented training into their associate degree programs as they possibly can.
- Lower student-to-faculty ratio. Many bachelor's degrees and master's degrees are offered at universities where classes are taught in rooms that can seat over 200 students at a time, and professors simply lecture to everyone at once. Unlike many traditional bachelor's degrees, associate degrees are offered by community colleges where class sizes can range from 10 to 30 students, usually no more. Students who earn an associate's degree from an accredited community college can expect to receive ample hands-on education and individualized attention from faculty and professors. Students can ask more questions, get more feedback, and receive personal support.
- Maximum flexibility. An associate degree is a great option for students who are working, because they're frequently offered at community colleges that provide evening classes, weekend classes, and online learning opportunities. Community colleges tend to make more time slots available for each class, which provides students more flexibility when planning their schedules. Many community colleges also offer hybrid degree programs where students can take on-campus courses while completing some of their courses online.
- Quality education. It used to be that community colleges offered second-rate education, when compared with the education offered at four-year colleges and universities. Well, that's no longer the case. The truth be known, most community college professors have a master's degree or doctorate in their field of study--just like college professors. And many associate degree programs exhibit the same level of academic rigor and difficulty as bachelor's degrees. And as most community colleges do not focus on research, professors have more time to focus on students and their education.
- Provide a way to quickly prepare for a career. As we already mentioned, many associate degree programs are skill oriented. Typically, a student can prepare for a career in just two years. The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently published a report showing all the career options available for professionals with an associate's degree, and the list is quite extensive. Just a few of the many career options available to those with an associate's degree include Mechanical Engineering Technician ($51,980/yr),Cardiovascular Technician ($52,070/yr), Physical Therapist Assistant ($52,160/yr), Geological and Petroleum Technician ($52,700/yr), Occupational Therapy Assistants ($53,230/yr), Radiologic Technologist ($54,630/yr), Avionics Technician ($55,350/yr), and the list goes on. Explore several high-paying jobs you can get with an associate's degree
- Associate degrees provide a great way to get started. Enrolling in a four-year bachelor's degree program is a big commitment, especially if you're not entirely certain what you plan on doing with your degree after you graduate. On the other hand, an associate's degree requires much less commitment all around. It costs less, is local, more flexible and allows the option of transfering into a bachelor's degree program, if desired. All around, an associate's degree is a great way to get started along the path to a career or higher education.