How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate Degree?

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A traditional associate degree normally takes 2 years to complete. You may also be able to finish your studies faster by choosing one of the best online associate’s degrees. Many of these programs offer flexibility to help you complete your coursework in as little time as possible.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Associate Degree

Admission requirements vary, but typically, associate degrees don’t have prerequisite college credits. You can enroll in an undergraduate program straight after earning a high school diploma or passing your GED.

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Some providers require a minimum GPA, but many feature open enrollment as a pathway to careers or bachelor’s degrees.

Which Factors Affect the Time It Takes to Complete an Associate Degree?

associate degree student in a university library

There are flexible online options that allow self-paced study, which can help you manage your time and advance as quickly or as slowly as your schedule permits.

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If you’re hoping to complete an associate degree but are worried about the time pressures or fitting in study with your other commitments, you can look for:

  • Shorter semesters with shorter breaks in between, reducing the overall duration of the program
  • Online programs where you can dip in and out of the course content according to your schedule
  • Associate degree courses without a specific start or end point so you can progress through your studies as you wish

It’s common to want to finish quickly, but removing urgency and balancing other responsibilities can help create a more positive experience. Maintaining a healthy work-life-school balance can improve your chances of finishing your degree at your desired pace.

Is It Worth Studying for an Associate Degree?

college students studying in library

Many associate programs have relatively relaxed admission criteria. They also typically only require the completion of 60 credits, half the amount of most bachelor’s degrees.

Earning an associate degree is a great option for many, whether you’d like to:

  • Reinforce your qualifications before applying for a job
  • Gain knowledge and demonstratable skills in advance of enrolling in a more advanced degree program, such as a bachelor’s program
  • Earn college credits to contribute towards your eligibility for a more advanced study program
  • Obtain a formal additional education qualification in a typically shorter period and with less expense

Completing an associate degree can also have direct benefits to your employability and career success. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, on average, associate degree holders earn more and have lower unemployment rates than those with just high school diplomas.

Can you teach with an associate degree?

No, an associate degree doesn’t qualify you for most teaching positions in the US. You’ll typically need a bachelor’s degree to apply for a teaching certification. Having an associate degree means you may be able to apply for jobs as a childcare professional, teaching assistant, or other supporting educational role.

Do You Need a Bachelor’s Degree After an Associate Degree?

student getting her associate degree

A bachelor’s is not required after an associate. Many careers accept associate degrees. Examples may include working as a web developer, graphic designer, or dental hygienist.

Some students prefer to spend up to 2 years earning an associate degree rather than obtaining work experience before enrolling in a bachelor’s degree program. Others transition straight from high school to college and then into the workforce.

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There isn’t a right or wrong pathway, but an associate degree may be a good option if you are ready to progress in your career and are unsure whether a bachelor’s degree is the right way forward.

What Is the Difference between an Associate and a Bachelor’s Degree?

students choosing a degree program

Choosing a degree program is personal and will depend on the types of career roles you’d like to secure, your budget, your availability, and your desired field of study.

As a summary:

  • Bachelor’s degrees normally require 120 credits, whereas associate degrees typically require 60 credits.
  • Most students spend an average of 2 years studying for an associate degree, compared to 4 years for a bachelor’s degree program.
  • An associate degree is normally accessible with a GED or high school diploma. Bachelor’s degree programs may have additional criteria, depending on the university.

Both degrees are valuable, respected qualifications, so the ideal solution will be down to the career you intend to pursue and the certifications you require to apply for your dream job.

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Isaac Scott
WRITTEN BY Isaac Scott

Isaac has a Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. His primary focus is accredited schools offering degrees online or in a hybrid format.