Associate Degree

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The Info You Need on Earning an Associates Degree

The easiest way to think about an associates degree is that it translates to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program. It typically takes two years of full-time study to earn an associates degree, which has made it a popular and less costly option for people seeking changes in their careers.

You can earn an associates degree from community colleges, junior colleges, technical and vocational schools, and universities. Some four-year institutions offer articulation agreements, which guarantee that students can earn a bachelor’s degree at a larger school once they earn their associates degrees. This has become a popular method for earning a bachelor’s degree at a lower cost than spending four years studying at a university.

There are three types of associates degrees: Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), and Associate of Applied Science (AAS). These degree types have varying course requirements. While AA and AS programs are more focused on general education, AAS degrees are typically more geared toward specific careers and vocations. Here are the basics for all three types:

  • Associate of Arts (AA): The best choice for those who plan to earn a bachelor’s degree in literature, languages, or the fine arts. An AA degree is also a good fit for those who want to go directly into sales or management positions.
  • Associate of Science (AS): There is a greater focus on math and science subjects in a typical AS program. Common majors include nursing, criminal justice, and computer science.
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS): Those who are more interested in going directly into a profession than earning a bachelor’s degree should consider this type of associates degree. A typical AAS program is more career-targeted, with popular majors including paralegal studies, web design, and entrepreneurship.

There are some high-paying jobs that require only an associates degree, including dental hygienist, computer network support specialist, and registered nurse. In fact, having the right type of associates degree can lead to better earning potential than many bachelor’s degrees.

The typical associates degree program includes 60 semester hours of study. This equates to about 20 courses. The fact that many schools offer both online and traditional programs means you can maintain a flexible schedule as you earn your associates degree. There are accelerated options to help you make faster progress, but you could also take one or two courses per semester if you have a busy work schedule.

Online study might also be a good option for you if you plan to maintain a career while advancing your education. There are many for-profit colleges offering online associates degrees, but make sure to carefully compare costs before going too far with such a program. For-profit schools can charge much more than their public college counterparts.

It’s also important to ask yourself if your intended career path and personal learning style align with online education. You might find that hands-on guidance is a priority for your desired career, or that you’ll thrive with face-to-face instruction rather than virtual interactions.



12 schools found

Wichita Technical Institute

Type: Private For-Profit

Institution Level: Less than 2 years

Location:2051 S Meridian Ave, Wichita, KS 67213

WTI was founded with YOU in mind, and nearly six decades later, continues to provide students with superior training for today’s in-demand careers. With five campuses throughout the Midwest, WTI has the facilities and the network to give you the convenience and the flexibility you need to make sure nothing stands in the way of the education you deserve.


WTI provides top-notch instructors, the latest technology, and curriculums designed with the market’s evolving needs in mind. Plus, WTI stands committed to a focus on hands-on training, which means you’ll learn by doing. It’s a simple concept with highly marketable results. WTI’s goal, and the goal of its experienced instructors, is to give you the ability to succeed from day one – and that’s a trait that all employers crave.

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YTI Career Institute

Type: Private For-Profit

Institution Level: Less than 2 years

Location:3050 Hempland Rd, Lancaster, PA 17601

YTI Career Institute's industry-modeled curricula, qualified instructors direct from the field, and facilities that mirror the workplace are all designed to prepare graduates to begin careers in healthcare, skilled trades, computers, business, criminal justice or culinary arts.

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