Associate's degrees are undergraduate academic degrees that may typically be attained from junior colleges, technical colleges, community colleges, and even regular colleges and universities. However, unlike bachelor's degrees, which generally require at least a four-year commitment, associate's degrees can be obtained in the equivalent of two years of study.
Many students who are already working full-time find that it's possible to attain such a degree through an online associate's degree program.
Of course, there are no degrees that guarantee graduates a career, but having an associate's degree does hold the potential to qualify you for a career that pays respectably well and offers some level of job security.
In 2010, the median weekly earnings for a full-time worker with an associate's degree or some college education was—$726 more than 15% more than the median weekly earnings of those with only a high school education.*
Typically, it takes two years to complete an associate's degree program if you attend school full-time. The average number of courses required to complete such a degree is 20. Because this time frame is relatively short, it's generally possible to complete an associate's degree for about half of what it would cost you to complete a bachelor's degree.
It's possible to pursue an associate's degree in a wide variety of different subjects. However, associate?s degrees can be broken down into two primary categories: Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Arts (AA). These two types of degrees are differentiated by the kind of coursework it takes to complete them.
Pursuing an AA degree involves taking a majority of courses related to liberal arts subjects, such as social sciences, arts, and humanities. An AS degree, on the other hand, generally involves coursework related to life sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences.
Both AA and AS degrees require 60 credits, roughly the equivalent of two years of study, to complete. The pre-requisite for enrolling in either an AA or AS degree program is a high school diploma or equivalent GED.
While many students will pursue an associate's degree as a means to attaining the career they want, others will attain such a degree as a preamble to going after a more advanced degree. Once you have secured your associate's degree, you may choose to enter the work force or to continue on for another two years to attain a bachelor's degree. Having an AA or AS degree can lay a firm foundation for pursuing a bachelor's degree in a similar or related area of study.
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