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Should I Earn an Associate Degree?

Associate Degree Overview


ortrait of smiling university students in corridor
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An associate degree is a postsecondary degree awarded to students who have completed an associate degree program. Most associate degrees can be earned within two years, though there are some programs that can be completed in as little as one year.

Where to Earn an Associate Degree
An associate degree can be earned from community colleges, four-year colleges, universities, vocational schools, and trade schools. Many institutions offer students the option of attending a campus-based program or earning their degree online.

Reasons to Earn an Associate Degree
There are many different reasons to consider earning an associate degree. First off, an associate degree can lead to better job prospects and a higher salary. Second, an associate degree can provide the occupational training your need to enter a specific business field. Other reasons for earning an associate degree:
  • Most associate degree programs have reasonable tuition.
  • Most of the credits earned in an associate degree program can be transferred to a bachelor degree program.
  • Employers often hire applicants who have associate degrees over applicants who have high school diplomas.
  • In only two years, you can acquire the necessary training to enter some of the fastest growing business fields.
Associate Degrees vs. Bachelor Degrees
Many students have a hard time deciding between an associate degree and a bachelor degree. Although both degrees can lead to better job prospects and higher pay, there are differences between the two. Associate degrees can be earned in less time and with less money--bachelor degree programs typically take four years to complete and come with a higher tuition tag.

Both degrees will also qualify you for different types of jobs. Associate degree holders are usually qualified for entry-level jobs, while bachelor degree holders can often get mid-level jobs or entry-level jobs with more responsibility.

The good news is that you don't have to decide between the two right away. If you choose an associate degree program that has transferable credits, there is no reason why you can't enroll in a bachelor degree program later on.

Choosing an Associate Degree Program
Choosing an associate degree program can be difficult. There are more than 2,000 schools that award associate degrees in the U.S. alone. Once of the most important considerations is accreditation. It is essential that you find a school that is respectable and accredited by the proper institutions. Other things to consider when choosing an associate degree program:
  • The courses the program offers
  • The reputation of the faculty
  • The quality of the school's academic facilities and/or career services program
  • The cost of tuition
  • The likelihood that you will be able to transfer your credits to a bachelor degree program
Explore This Topic Further
  • Associate Degree Information - Visit AssociateDegree.org to learn more about the application process for associate degree programs and the different types of associate degrees that are available.
  • Earn an Online Associate Degree - Visit Jamie's Distance Learning Blog to learn more about earning an associate degree online.
  • Business School Directory - Visit the Business School Directory to find associate degree programs online and in your state.

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