If you are from outside the USA or Canada, you may have heard of master’s and doctoral degrees.
What is an associate’s degree? Where is it offered and how do you determine if it is the right choice for your needs? Here’s a quick guide
What is an associate’s diploma?
An associate’s degree (or bachelor’s) is an academic program that is completed at the undergraduate level. This is the first stage of secondary school. This program aims to provide students with the necessary technical and academic knowledge as well as transferable skills to be able to work in their chosen field.
While associate’s degrees are most common in the US, you can also find them in Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Australia, and the Netherlands. Similar programs are offered in other countries, but they may be called something else like foundation degrees in the UK.
Associate’s degrees in the USA are offered at a variety of colleges including junior colleges, community colleges, technical colleges, affiliated colleges with universities, and university institutes. An associate’s degree can be completed in two years.
An associate’s degree is for some students preparation for a bachelor’s degree. For others, it’s a qualification that can be used to help improve job prospects than if you only have a secondary education.
What is the difference between an associate’s and a bachelor’s?
Bachelor’s and associate’s degrees can both be considered “undergraduate” degrees. This means that they are open to all students once they have completed secondary education. Students must have completed a bachelor’s degree to be eligible for “postgraduate” programs such as master’s and PhD.
How do you choose between a bachelor’s or associate’s degree? Here are some key differences:
To earn either of these qualifications, you will need to complete a set number of hours or credits. While this may vary depending on where you live, an associate’s degree typically takes two years full-time. This is 60 credit hours in the US, compared to 120 required for a bachelor’s degree. It takes approximately four years to complete a full-time bachelor’s degree.
Part-time study is a popular option for associate’s degree students. This will mean that the degree will take more time to complete. It is possible to do a fast-track course. This allows you to work at a faster pace and can even be completed during vacations.
Students who have completed an associate degree can transfer course credits towards a bachelor’s, reducing the amount of time required for this degree.
Associate’s degree tuition fees are generally lower than bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, it takes less time to complete the course, so the overall cost of an associate’s degree is significantly less than a bachelor’s. While the exact cost of an associate’s program will vary from one institution to another, you can expect to pay between two and three times as much for it. You’re also likely to spend less money on accommodation and travel because you will spend less time studying.
- Entry requirements
Finally, associate’s degree requirements are generally less competitive than bachelor’s degrees and admissions deadlines tend to be later. These degrees can be an option for students who do not meet the entry requirements of a bachelor’s program, or because they have taken more vocational courses than required.
Different types of associate degrees
There are four types of associate degree: AA, AS, AS and AAA. The major difference between the ‘applied’ and ‘applicable’ courses is that they are focused more on preparing students to a specific career, focusing more on practical skills, whereas the AAA and AS are more targeted at students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree with a greater emphasis on academic preparation.
Online associate degrees are becoming increasingly popular due to their affordability and flexibility. This allows individuals to study while working, often at a lower price.
Associate’s degrees can lead to a career in the field
The type of associate’s diploma you choose and the subject that you study will impact the possibilities for career options. An associate’s degree can lead to a variety of highly skilled and high-paying jobs. One recent list of appealing careers that require an associate’s degree is the dental hygienist. It also includes web developers, radiotherapists, and radiation therapists.
A bachelor’s degree will open up more career opportunities, but it is worth checking if you really need one to pursue your chosen career. This is especially true if you are paying high tuition fees. It may surprise you to learn how many skilled positions require an associate’s degree. Bachelor’s degrees tend to be more vocationally-oriented than academically, so many graduates will need to complete additional professional training before they can begin work.
Transferring from an associate’s to a bachelor’s degree
It is usually very easy to transfer from an associate’s to a bachelor’s degree. You can transfer your credits to the bachelor’s program if they are valid and accepted by the university that offers the degree. This is known as the 2 + 2.
This option is available to you if you are interested. Make sure to research the requirements of your institutions. You may need to take certain classes or credit hours in order to be able to transfer to the bachelor’s degree program.
Why choose an associate’s program?
An associate’s degree can be chosen for many reasons. It may be that you want to get into the workforce more quickly and at a lower cost. You may also want to earn a full bachelor’s but not have the grades or you simply prefer the idea of paying less tuition for a few years prior to transferring.
Perhaps the best way to determine whether you should pursue an associate’s program is to think about the career you are interested in and then apply for the degree that best prepares you for it. You might also want to check out the job listings for the country you are interested in and research the skills and qualifications most in demand by your potential employers.