A few years ago, online schools were a foreign concept. Today, they have become prevalent as students take advantage of their economical and flexible benefits. Many colleges and universities now offer countless online associate degrees.
If you’re interested in pursuing an online associate degree, read on to learn more about the degree and where to find the best programs.
What Is an Associate Degree?
An associate degree is a two-year academic degree program taken at the undergraduate level. This degree serves as a starting point for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future. An associate degree equips students with the necessary academic and technical skills to prepare them for future studies or immediate employment.
How Long Does it Take to Complete An Associate Degree?
An associate degree takes two years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree takes four years. Associate degrees are a comparatively cheaper and more flexible option for part-time or full-time workers.
A student enrolled in an associate degree program can choose to complete the degree in two to four years if they are juggling a job on the side. Some programs also allow students to accelerate their studies and complete the degree in less than two years.
Application Requirements for an Associate Degree Program
Before you apply for an online associate degree, make sure you have all the necessary documents required for admission. Below is a checklist of things you need to apply to an online associate degree program.
- Personal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation
- Official Transcripts
- Placement Exams (check if this applies to you)
What Are the Completion Requirements for an Associate Degree?
An associate degree requires 60 credit hours to complete. A bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, requires double at 120. Some programs like nursing or engineering might require additional credit hours.
Types of Associate Degrees
There are four types of associate degrees. Let’s discuss them in detail below.
Associate of Arts
An associate of arts is an undergraduate or an entry-level degree program that prepares high school graduates for either a bachelor’s degree program or the workforce. The concentrations are offered in fields of business, social sciences, and humanities.
Some community colleges may partner up with a university to make it easier for students to transfer after graduation. After the transfer, you will be considered a junior and not a freshman.
To transfer to a bachelor’s program after your AA degree, you will need to complete all the transfer requirements. Typically, AA programs require you to complete 60 credits and maintain a certain minimum GPA to be eligible for a transfer. However, this may vary by discipline. Make sure to check the requirements before applying to the university.
Associate of Science
An associate of science allows students to enroll in programs that offer technical skills to prepare them for the workforce or a four-year bachelor’s degree program. These degrees are designed for students who wish to enter the workforce without furthering their education beyond a two-year program.
In an AS degree program, mentors guide students to achieve their career and academic goals. Some concentrations include engineering technology, information technology, and nursing.
Associate of Applied Arts
An AAA degree is a specialized degree designed to provide the skills necessary to enter the workforce right after graduation. Some common programs include advertising, fine arts, and music.
An AAA degree is also designed to provide general education courses in the humanities and social sciences to prepare graduates for entry-level positions in the areas of industrial design and fashion design.
Associate of Applied Science
AAS graduates can find jobs in agriculture, business administration, law enforcement, healthcare, computer networking and programming, or as paralegals.
AAS programs are designed for students seeking employment opportunities immediately upon graduation. Emphasis is placed on courses that enable students to gain the necessary skills and knowledge to apply concepts in their areas of interest.
Best Schools for Online Associate Degrees
Below is a list of some accredited online associate degree programs that can provide you a solid foundation for a job or further studies.
Purdue Global offers a variety of affordable online associate degrees with a focus on furthering your education and career goals. Some concentrations include business, criminal justice, fire science, health sciences, information technology, legal studies, and professional studies.
Students can take a three-week introductory class to see if the program fits their needs. There is no enrollment fee for the introductory classes. However, you have to pay an application fee. The program follows a six-week or 10-week term calendar and the start dates are flexible.
Southwestern Community College, located in Sylva, North Carolina, offers associate degree programs in the arts and applied sciences fields of study. Some concentrations include business administration, accounting and finance, information technology, and medical office administration. The school also offers certificate courses in finance, business, and healthcare.
Located in Hamlet, North Carolina, Richmond Community College offers eight online and hybrid degrees in the fields of accounting and finance, information technology, arts, criminal justice, and business administration.
Located in Sanborn, New York, Niagara County Community College offers associate of science, associate of arts, and associate of applied science degrees online. Some concentrations include accounting, business, business administration, computer information systems, health studies, human services, liberal arts and sciences, humanities, social science, psychology, and sport management. These programs are designed to help students transfer into bachelor’s programs or prepare them for the workforce.
Laramie County Community College offers associate of science, associate of arts, and associate of applied science degrees online. These include areas of study such as cybersecurity, business, financial services, education, health information technology, psychology, and criminal justice.
Stanly Community College, located in Albemarle, North Carolina, offers associate of arts and associate of science degrees in the fields of information technology, early childhood education, business administration, and accounting. Programs begin in fall, spring, and summer, and require 60 to 70 credits to complete.
Located in North Platte, Nebraska, Mid-Plains Community College offers associate of arts, science, and applied science degrees in areas like library technical assistant, business administration, and criminal justice.
The college offers a personal education advisor to help students through the application and enrollment process. The advisor then helps students map out their career paths. Students interact in one-on-one meetings, faculty-led discussion groups, and also make use of state-of-the-art technology that allows them to complete their work remotely.
Wytheville Community College, in Wytheville, Virginia, offers several associate degrees in the fields of business administration, general studies, computer science, business management and leadership, and administrative support technology. all the courses are self-paced and available online.
Pennsylvania Highlands Community College offers online associate of arts and associate of applied sciences degrees in areas such as liberal arts, entrepreneurship, and paralegal studies. Its courses are designed to help students enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year degree.
Conclusion: Career Prospects with an Associate Degree
There are two main courses of action you can take after graduating with an associate degree. You could apply for a job, or apply to a bachelor’s program.
Depending on your goals, an associate degree will prepare you for the next step. If you want to enroll in a bachelor’s degree program, you will have to transfer your credits to the university. Once you graduate with a four-year degree, you will have more knowledge and experience to enter the workforce.
If you wish to enter the job market right after your two-year associate degree, prepare your resume by following these top 10 resume tips. List your courses, projects, and all the technical skills you learned during those two years. Make sure to list your soft skills like communication and critical thinking skills as they will help you during your interview process.
With an associate degree, you can become qualified to join companies as a computer programmer, dental hygienist, preschool teacher, radiation therapist, paralegal, registered nurse, electrical technician, or web developer.
The job prospects for those who earn an associate degree are numerous as there is always a demand for new hires for entry-level positions at various companies in the US and around the world.
The average salary for an associate degree holder in an entry-level position can range somewhere between $32,000 to $52,000 yearly.
Whether you want to pursue a bachelor’s degree or apply for a job, an associate degree will give jumpstart your career. This is the first step to get you closer to your goals and ambitions.