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Online Associate's Degree Programs

Online Associates Degree Programs: Two Years to a Professional Degree

What is an Associate’s Degree?

It is a postsecondary academic degree that is awarded by community, junior and technical colleges, as well as some four-year institutions. Online programs are also highly popular—according to the Sloan Consortium, approximately 51% of all degrees earned online are Associate’s degrees.

Typically, programs take two years to complete, and is considered the lowest of the academic degree levels. However, completing the program pays off, with an average earning of $8,000 per year more than those with only a high school diploma.

Many white-collar corporate jobs require a four-year degree. However, there are well-paying jobs that require only an 2 year-degree, including:

  • Retail manager ($35,310)
  • Dental hygienist ($58,350)
  • Radiation therapist ($57,700)
  • Diagnostic medical sonographer ($52,490)

How can an Associate’s Degree be a used as a stepping stone?

For, many students they don’t stop after their two years of college. In the US and Canada, it’s not unusual for two-year degree holders to apply their credits toward a Bachelor’s degree, requiring an additional two years.

Often this is used as a smart tactic for saving money in college tuition, as many students attend a less-expensive community college for two years and then transfer to a more prestigious and costly school. They only pay for two years at the more costly school, and the Bachelor’s degree they earn is the same as that earned by four-year graduates.

What types of Associate’s Degrees are available?

There are many different types of accredited degree programs offered online and at traditional schools. Several are often designed to transfer to four-year schools, and include many of the general-level prerequisites required by Bachelor’s degree programs, these include:

Associate of Arts (AA): Considered one of the most common types of degrees awarded. It’s usually given for programs in the humanities or the social sciences. An AA program provides a degree that is often used to transfer to a four-year college degree program. 

Associate of Science (AS): Another of the common degree types, it is often designed to transfer to four-year degree programs. It’s typically awarded in science- or math-related areas, such as math, natural and physical sciences, health care, or technology.

Associate of Fine Arts (AFA): Usually transferable, but it often doesn’t cover general education requirements needed for a Bachelor’s degree program. It’s given to students in creative fields such as music, dance, art, creative writing, and theatre. 

Associate of Arts in Teaching: Works differently than other AA degree programs in its designed to give full-credit for approved lower-division education classes to any student transferring to a participating four-year degree program. The idea is to make it easier for students to choose teaching as a career by allowing them to try it out in a two-year program before committing to a four-year program, as well as making it easier and more affordable to earn a higher level degree.

Associate in Applied Science (AAS): Terminal degree which is not designed to transfer to a four-year program. The degree typically doesn’t include the general liberal arts requirements needed in a four-year degree program. It’s designed as a hands-on, vocational degree for students who plan to enter the work force upon graduation and usually focuses on the trades.

Associate in Industrial Technology (AIT): Intended mainly for non-transfer students, as it doesn’t include many required general education classes. Subjects included in the Industrial Technology field include computers, electronics, engineering, and broadcasting.

Associate in Business Administration (ABA): Usually not intended for transfer, although in a few cases, some of its credits can be transferred to business degree programs at participating four-year universities. Generally, subjects include management, retail or hospitality management, and other business subjects.

Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS): Is the designation given in some states to vocational degrees that don’t include any liberal arts courses. These programs are generally not intended for transfer to four-year degree programs.

Why choose an online degree?

An Associates degree online can be ideal—both for those who intend to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation and for those who want to transfer to a four-year school. They shorten the time spent in college for those who intend to work, and they can lessen the cost and the time spent in school to earn a Bachelor’s degree. With some research, you should be able to find a program—online or traditional—that’s right for you.