Online Associate’s Degrees
With the changing economy, the job market over the last several years has become increasingly competitive. Earning a college degree is essential in many industries in order to stand out from the crowd of applicants and work your way up the corporate ladder. If you are interested in going back to college to earn a degree but aren’t sure where to start, an online associate’s degree program may be the right choice for you!
Many accredited schools throughout the country are now offering a variety of associate’s degrees through online learning – making it easier than ever for adult students to balance the demands of work and family obligations while pursuing their education. While typically a two-year program, associate’s degrees completed through online schooling may give you the flexibility to earn your degree on a shorter timeframe and save on tuition costs.
In the information below, we’ll go over everything that you need to know about online associate’s degrees, including the most popular programs, types of degrees, and the admissions process to help you get on the fast-track to beginning your new career!
Highest Paying Associate’s Degree Careers
According to the United States Census Bureau, those who have an associate’s degree typically make more than $400,000 more in their lifetime than someone with just a high school diploma. That earning potential can make a big difference with the rising costs of living throughout the country!
In the table below, we have put together a list of the top five highest-paying associate’s degree programs that are available through many colleges today:
|Associate’s Degree||Career Summary||
|Computer Engineering (CE)||Works within the IT industry to develop computer hardware and systems for a variety of organizations.||
|Economics||Typically employed in sales, business, or finances to help companies make wise decisions based on economic factors.||
|Management Information Systems (MIS)||Employed across a variety of industries to design, implement, and manage IT systems and projects within an organization.||
|Construction Management||Oversees construction projects and teams, including work on buildings, roads, and other structures.||
|Electrical engineering (EE)||Researches, designs, and tests the manufacturing and installation of electrical components and systems.||
*Degree data provided by Payscale.com
As you can see, two years or less of schooling to get your associate’s degree can give you the potential of earning close to a six-figure salary in certain industries! The numbers above represent the average salary of professionals who have spent 10 years working in their field, and you may make more or less dependent upon your unique skillset and experience.
What is an Online Associate’s Degree?
An online associate’s degree gives you the option of earning a two-year college degree through an online learning environment. An associate’s degree program is the first level of a higher-education degree, and many students choose to move on to earn their bachelor’s degree after graduation.
There are several advantages to earning your degree online, including:
- Flexible scheduling options so you can log-in at a time that suits your busy life
- Potential for lower long-term tuition costs
- Access to extensive online research and academic resources
- Advanced learning platforms, including live lectures, discussion boards, and interactive tools
With an associate’s degree in your field, you will have a solid foundational knowledge of the skills necessary to succeed in the professional environment or continue your education. Throughout the course of your program, you will take several general education courses as well as career-specific classes that are geared towards specialized knowledge in your field of study.
Types of Online Associate’s Degrees
Once you have decided to pursue an online associate’s degree, the next step is deciding which type of degree is right for you! There are three main categories of associate’s degrees, and the one that you choose depends on your future career goals and whether you are planning on transferring to a bachelor’s degree program after graduation.
Online Associate of Science (A.S.) Degree
An Associate of Science degree is designed to prepare you for transferring to a four-year degree program. During the course of your two-year study program you will concentrate on completing core education courses that will lay the foundation for your future bachelor’s degree, including English, math, and science classes.
There are several concentrations within an Associate of Science degree program that you can choose from, including:
- Computer Science
- Health Sciences
In order to successfully complete your A.S. degree, you will be required to earn around 60 credit hours – which works out to approximately 20 courses. With the flexibility of online learning, you may be able to shorten the timeframe that it takes to graduate with an A.S. degree. This can be accomplished through taking accelerated classes, working through the summer, or taking an increased course-load each semester.
Online Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree
Like the Associate of Science degree, an online Associate of Arts degree program is designed to lay the foundation for moving into a bachelor’s degree program after graduation. Instead of focusing on career-specific training, your A.A. degree will cover core liberal arts curriculum that will give you a broad knowledge base of several essential subjects.
Similar to the A.S. degree program, an A.A. offers a number of exciting study concentrations that include:
- Computer Science
- History and Government
- Computer Information Systems
Many students interested in an A.S. or A.A. degree choose to complete this level of their education in a community college setting instead of a larger four-year university. Community colleges offer a wide selection of online degrees, and the tuition costs associated with this type of school are substantially lower than larger public or private universities.
Online Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) Degree
While an A.A. or A.S. degree is designed to give students the foundational skills needed to transfer to a four-year program, an online Associate of Applied Science degree offers something different to students. With this degree, you will be taking career-specific courses that offer a well-rounded education to directly enter the work-force after graduation.
Some popular A.A.S. degree programs that you may be interested in pursuing include the following:
- Administrative Studies
- Applied Computer Studies
- Applied Health Sciences
- Criminal Justice
- Mechanics and Maintenance
- Construction and Facilities Support
While many of these programs are available in an online learning format, some may require additional on-campus or in-person training in order to graduate from the program. Regardless of the A.A.S. degree you choose, this degree is designed to translate directly into the professional career field. You may also be able to apply your credits earned through this degree to four-year degree programs if you’d like to continue your educational journey.
Online Associate’s Degree Admissions and Transfer
Whether you are a student straight out of a high school or a working adult that wants to advance their career, an associate’s degree is a viable option to take the first step towards better career opportunities. Associate’s degrees are the most popular online degree program, and many accredited colleges and universities offer a wide range of options to choose from in A.S., A.A., and A.A.S. degrees.
In the below sections, we will go over the administrative information you need to know when choosing to further your education with an associate’s level degree.
The only academic requirement to enrolling in an online associate’s degree program is a high school diploma or the equivalent. Even if you did poorly in high school, many community colleges have an open-door enrollment policy that allows you to get a fresh start by enrolling in a low-cost, online degree program.
When you’re ready to enroll in college, it is a good idea to take the time to meet with an academic advisor at your school of choice. They can help you understand the different degree options available and advise you on the best course of action to meet your future goals.
From there, you will need to fill out a college application. The process for this can vary based upon the type of college in which you are enrolling, but typically you will need to submit your high school diploma, transcripts, and other school-specific requirements.
If you are interested in receiving financial aid, the first step is to fill out the FASFA online. This will connect you with federal financial aid resources, including grants and loans, which may cover a significant portion of your costs. Other financial aid options may be available through scholarships or school-based aid, and your college advisor can direct you to the right programs for your needs.
Transferring Schools with an Online Associate’s Degree
If you have enrolled in an A.A. or A.S. degree program, you are likely planning on transferring to a four-year university after graduation. When choosing your degree program, make sure that you are aware of your school’s transfer policies. Many schools that offer associate’s degrees have articulation agreements with four-year universities that make the transfer process simple for their students.
For students who wish to transfer schools while in the course of their associate’s degree program, the process can become more complicated. Colleges all have unique policies on the credits they will accept for transfer, with some being stricter than others.
In order for your completed credits to transfer to another school’s associate’s degree program, the course descriptions must match those of the courses offered at your new school. Some schools also offer “guaranteed transfer” classes within a degree program, so it is best to check with your academic advisor before deciding on your best option for transferring.
How do I know if an Online Associate’s Degree Right for Me?
Choosing a college that can meet your needs is an essential first step for success in your degree program. For those who are self-motivated and need the flexibility of logging onto classes anytime and anywhere, an online degree is likely a better choice than traditional on-campus courses. With an online associate’s degree you will have access to the same quality education as your traditional classmates, while also being able to balance career or family obligations.
There are many choices for an associate’s degree, depending upon whether you want to transfer to a bachelor’s program or enter straight into the workforce. With several exciting career paths and flexible online learning options, an online associate’s degree is an excellent first step towards building the future of your dreams.