An associate degree is typically a two-year degree awarded by community colleges, technical schools, and universities in the US. Someone who earns an associate degree has usually completed about 60 college credits, the equivalent of two years of coursework. In order to earn one, students must typically complete general education courses, core classes required for the college major, and electives. This degree is sufficient for work in some fields, while other positions may require completion of additional education.
How To Get One
Receiving an associate degree usually requires about two years of education, though this can vary depending on the individual program a student completes. Schools often require introductory and core curriculum courses, such as language studies and mathematics. Students also take additional classes that focus on the degree subject, such as computer science or healthcare. While this study is not usually as specialized or focused as degrees that require many more years of classes, it can give a valuable overview needed for additional schooling or employment in certain fields.
Fields of Study
Common types of degrees include the Associate of Arts, Associate of Applied Science, and Associate of Science. These degrees can be earned in business, information technology, and health services, as well as early childhood education, engineering, and other career fields. More specialized areas of study, such as the history of a specific culture or in-depth linguistic courses, are not offered as part of a two-year program.
Merits of This Degree
People who choose to earn a two-year degree do so for various reasons. For example, students who do not wish to pursue a four-year bachelor's degree often prefer the shorter length of an associate program. Students can also save money by attending a junior or community college for the first two years of their post-secondary career; an associate degree usually transfers quite easily to a more expensive four-year college. Some students may need to bolster their grades before applying to a four-year university, which they can do while working toward an associate degree.
It is also possible to find a high-paying job in some career fields if a graduate has earned a two-year degree. While lawyers, doctors, and teachers typically complete additional schoolwork, computer programmers, nurses, and automotive technicians may be qualified with only one or two years of study. Many cities and towns have accredited community colleges and career schools that provide students with this type of short-term post-secondary education, even if they do not have larger, four-year schools.
Some people may feel that they do not have time to pursue a two-year degree. If they have access to the Internet, however, then they may be able to earn a degree from the comfort of their own homes. Many schools offer distance education programs using an online format. Prospective students can enroll in courses through an accredited online college and work toward a two-year degree within their schedule. No matter what type of school the student decides to attend, it's important to verify that the school is accredited and legitimate, so that he or she receives a quality education.
After earning an associate degree from an accredited school, a graduate can often apply these credits toward a bachelor's degree program. Many universities accept an associate's degree as a replacement for the first two years of coursework toward a higher degree. Someone with this degree can also enter the workplace in many careers, especially technical fields like computer science and programming. Other fields like nursing have opportunities for people with only one or two years of education, which may result in a specialized certification, rather than a degree.