What is an Associate degree?
An Associate degree is a college degree that is generally completed in two years. Earning an Associate degree means that you have completed a certain amount of college credits. Some people earn Associate degrees to transition directly into a career. Others use an Associate degree as the foundation for a Bachelor’s degree, which can usually be completed after two more years, provided that all course credits transfer correctly.
There are various types of Associate degrees. Some of the most common are the Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science. The Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees are both liberal arts-based degrees with different emphases: one on the arts and humanities and the other on math and science. These degrees are a solid foundation toward a Bachelor’s degree and are geared toward those students who plan on continuing their education.
The Associate of Applied Science degree, however, is a program specifically geared toward students who want to finish their degree and move directly into employment. These degrees can be in areas that require an A.A.S to enter the field, like nursing, massage therapy and computer technology.
Why should I earn an Associate degree?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, Associate degree holders earn an average of $6,600 more annually than high school diploma holders, and have 30 percent lower unemployment rates. According to the Census Bureau, Associate degree holders earn about $1.6 million over their lifetimes.
If you plan on earning a higher degree, it is to your advantage to earn a two-year college degree first. By earning an Associate and then a Bachelor’s degree, the higher degree becomes much less expensive. Other advantages to this degree include more flexible schedules for those with day jobs, and often more convenient locations.
How can I earn an Associate degree?
Associate degrees are awarded by career colleges, community colleges, online schools and some universities. An Associate degree demonstrates knowledge of the basics of higher education without declaring a specific major or course of study.
Most Associate degree programs require the completion of 60 college credits, which take approximately two years to complete while attending class full-time. Those who cannot attend school full-time will take longer to complete their Associate degrees.
What can I do with an Associate degree?
An Associate degree can serve as a stepping stone toward a higher degree, like a Bachelor’s degree. Students who do not pursue a Bachelor's degree typically use the Associate degree in a more vocational or technical manner and transition directly into a specific career.