Planning the next course of action can be a daunting stage for students leaving high school and adults planning to switch careers. Should you pursue an associate degree or enroll in a bachelor’s degree program? Both routes have their pros and cons.
In this article, we will discuss the associate degree route and reasons to consider it. Thankfully, many online colleges offer associate degrees in various fields. To be clear, an online associate degree is just as valuable as an on-campus degree. The only difference between them is the mode of delivery.
What is an associate degree?
Simply put, an associate degree is a two-year degree. As many organizations prefer “some college” education for employment, an associate degree provides a quicker and less expensive path to getting a job. Some jobs only require an associate degree, making it a perfect solution for candidates considering that route.
Nevertheless, an associate degree is an excellent stepping stone towards completing a bachelor’s degree later. Students can complete it online in a community college, junior college, and affiliated colleges of universities and even large universities.
Here are some significant advantages of an associate degree:
- It takes two years full-time or 2.5 to 6 years, part-time to complete.
- The median weekly pay for those with an associate degree is about 18% higher than that of high school graduates.
- It generally costs half of a bachelor’s degree program.
- An associate degree is considered the first two years of a bachelor’s degree (freshman and sophomore years).
Hence, an associate degree is a great choice for students who want to quickly get a job or working adults looking to widen their career opportunities.
Doing a degree program online has other advantages too. You get to complete the courses at your own pace and your convenience. Meaning, you can continue working and taking care of your family while studying.
An associate degree usually requires completion of 60-semester credits or 20 college courses.
Tuition in online colleges can be as low as $1,700 per year. You could consider online community colleges and public universities as they tend to charge cheaper tuition fees than private colleges.
On top of tuition fees, on-campus students incur other costs like room and board, utilities, and commuting expenses. Students attending online programs can save time and money on transportation expenses, room, meals, and on-campus services. Hence, enrolling in online schools can help you reduce student debts in the long run.
If you need some financial aid, scholarships and grants, student loans, and tax credits are available to both on-campus and online students.
The four types of associate degrees
They are namely:
- AA – Associate of Arts
- AS – Associate of Science
- AAA – Associate of Applied Arts
- AAS – Associate of Applied Science.
The AAA and AAS paths tend to focus on courses that lead towards a specific career. Whereas the AA and AS degrees prepare students for further education at a bachelor’s level.
Examples of jobs with an AAA degree are as follows:
- Graphic designer
- Executive chef
- Office manager
- Creative director.
Some of the more popular AAS degree majors include:
- Web design
- Paralegal studies
- Customer relationship management
On the other hand, an AS degree provides a wide range of career options emphasizing math and science subjects. You can select between healthcare and nursing fields, business administration, or information technology jobs with an AS degree.
Finally, the AA degree covers general subjects in languages, literature, music, or art. You would be able to get into sales and various management and education positions by choosing this route.
Therefore, earning an associate degree gives you two choices – either to further your study to a bachelor’s degree or go right into the job market. Another choice you have is to do an accelerated associate degree. Here is an article that discusses this route at length.
Your best choice would be to choose the route that fulfills both your academic and career goals.