Associate’s Degrees: Jumpstart Your Career with a Two-Year Degree

Associate’s degrees take around two years of full-time study to complete and are offered in a variety of subjects. Many students who graduate from associate’s degree programs go on to transfer to four-year colleges and universities, but some two-year degrees translate into immediate career opportunities. If you would like to enhance your career prospects without making the commitment to a four-year bachelor’s degree, learn more about associate’s degree programs to decide whether that route may be a good fit for you.

Overview of the Associate’s Degrees

Where Can You Earn an Associate’s Degree?

Associate’s degrees are awarded at community colleges, junior colleges, vocational schools, technical colleges, and some traditional four-year universities.

How Long Are Associate’s Degree Programs?

Associate’s degrees typically take two years to complete. Most associate’s degree programs will require students to fulfill 60 credits in order to graduate.

What Types of Degrees Are Awarded?

An Associate of Arts (AA) is awarded to those who study business, the humanities or social sciences; an Associate of Science (AS) is awarded to those who study a scientific or technical field; and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) is awarded to those who complete a technical or vocational program.

What are the Prerequisites?

Whether you choose to get an AA, AS or AAS degree, you must have a high school diploma or GED in order to qualify for admission. Requirements regarding prerequisite coursework, high school GPA, and SAT/ACT scores vary depending on the area of study you pursue. Some programs, such as nursing, are competitive and have more stringent admissions requirements than others. Check with the specific programs you want to apply to in order to determine what their requirements are.

Are Courses Offered Online?

Many associate’s programs are offered in an online format, as well as on the evening and weekends, which allows working adults and others with busy schedules to complete their studies in their free time.

What Areas of Study Are Available?

Specific majors you can pursue at the associate’s level include automotive technology, nursing, health information technology, early childhood education, network security, information systems, business administration, electrical engineering, paralegal studies, and much more.

Some two-year degrees are in “general studies” and are designed to provide a broad liberal arts education, similar to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program.

What are the Benefits of the Associate’s Degree?

Reasonable Tuition Rates

With tuition rates soaring, a growing number of students are considering earning a two-year degree instead of a four-year degree. Community colleges and other institutions that offer two-year degrees often have lower tuition rates than four-year colleges and universities. Also, a two-year degree is completed in half of the time of a bachelor’s degree, which makes the associate’s degree less expensive due to fewer tuition payments.

Stepping Stone to a Bachelor’s Degree

A major advantage of earning a degree at the associate’s level is that you always have the option to transfer your credits to a four-year school and earn a bachelor’s degree, either immediately after you graduate or later on while you work.

Relatively Short-Term

Since an associate’s degree can typically be completed in two years, it is a relatively short time commitment. For many areas of study, graduates can enter directly into the workplace after they have completed their degree.

Increased Salary

Those with associate’s degrees make more money annually than those with less education. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2013, the median weekly salary for all workers holding an associate’s degree was $777, which is $126 more a week than those who have only earned a high school diploma and is $305 dollars more weekly than those who have not graduated from high school.

Lower Unemployment Rate

Associate’s degree holders have a lower unemployment rate than the national average. In 2013, the median unemployment rate for all workers holding an associate’s degree in the US was 5.4%, which is .7% below the national average and is 2.1% lower than those who have earned only a high school diploma.

Joining an Associate’s Degree Program

There are many benefits to an associate’s degree, including higher salaries and lower unemployment compared to those with less education. An associate’s degree can put you on the road to a new career or can help you jumpstart your bachelor’s degree. If you want to expand your career options and brighten your future, check out the associate’s degree programs featured below.

Schools that offer Associate Degrees

  • The College of Westchester offers Associate Degrees in Accounting Business and Health. The are located at 325 Central Avenue in White Plains, New York.
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