An associate degree can act as a stepping stone between a high school diploma and a more advanced bachelor’s degree.
The requirements for an associate’s degree tend to be less stringent. You may even be able to complete an associate’s degree online quickly, with virtual study programs often providing flexibility in how quickly you can earn your degree.
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You might enroll in an associate degree program to reinforce your skills, achieve a qualification while gaining practical work experience, or meet minimum entry criteria for a job or career you aspire towards.
How Valuable Is an Associate Degree in the Jobs Market?
Associate degree programs often provide foundational courses in your chosen topic. This can equip you with technical know-how that may be essential to applying for some professional roles.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Adults with associate degrees earn, on average, roughly 18% more than those with just high school diplomas.
- Associate degree graduates earn, on average, about 7% above peers with only some college education but no formal degree.
Most academic associate degree programs last around two years, depending on whether you study online or on-campus.
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You might choose what you consider to be one of the easiest associate’s degrees to get online to complete your studies swiftly. You may also choose a flexible, self-managed program where you can fit your studies around other commitments.
Alongside the qualification an associate degree offers, some employers may believe that applicants who have enrolled in further education programs are more engaged in their careers and developing valuable skills.
Do Associate Degree Credits Count Towards a Bachelor’s Degree Program?
Many students enroll in online associate degree programs with a longer-term goal of completing a bachelor’s degree.
There are several potential benefits of earning an associate degree:
- If you have yet to decide what to study at the bachelor’s degree level, an associate degree program can help you explore the areas that you find most enjoyable or inspiring.
- Many subjects that can be studied at the associate level, such as business and management, cover a broad knowledge base and are relevant to a variety of careers and positions.
- Associate degrees are usually quicker to complete than more advanced degrees and have time commitments you may find more manageable.
- Some students find an associate degree to be lower pressure or a more comfortable transition from high school to further education.
You can also pursue an associate degree before applying for a bachelor’s degree program.
What Types of Associate Degrees Can I Study Online?
A growing number of associate degrees are available through online programs. The types of associate degrees can be broadly categorized as:
- Associate of Arts, which tends to cover fields such as art, music, literature, and art history
- Associate of Applied Arts, which typically focuses on humanitarian subjects and social sciences
- Associate of Science, which usually covers topics like mathematics, engineering, and medicine
- Associate of Applied Science, which is often designed for students planning to work in sectors such as construction, healthcare, or engineering
The biggest difference between associate degrees and applied associate programs is that an applied degree program is generally created for students planning to enter the job market upon completion.
Depending on the college, an applied associate degree will usually cover practical experiences alongside theory to deliver well-rounded knowledge.