Associate Degree Details Video

Associate Degree Details Video Transcript

Don't have the time or money to go to a four-year college? Want to get started in a technical field or vocation? Getting an associate's degree may be your answer! You can earn an undergraduate Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.) or Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree in just two years.

What is an Associate's Degree?

An associate's degree is an undergraduate college degree usually available through community colleges, junior colleges and vocational schools. An associate's degree program generally takes two years of full-time study to complete, but part-time programs are available.

What are the Degree Options?

Many different associate's degrees are available, but they come in two varieties -- stand-alone technical and vocational degrees, such as the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) and the Associate of Occupational Studies (A.O.S.), or transfer degrees, such as the Associate of Art (A.A.) and Associate of Science (A.S.).

Transfer degrees are designed to allow the student to move on to a four-year college after finishing the associate's degree. Transfer associate's degrees usually cover the same lower division, general studies coursework as the first two years at a four-year college. This means that, ideally, a transfer student can begin traditional college as a junior, rather than a freshman, and his or her two years of study will be applied toward completing bachelor's degree requirements.

Some colleges and universities have agreements with their local community colleges and will always accept the associate's degree coursework when a student transfers. Others pick and choose which course credits will actually transfer.

Some Popular Associate's Degrees

It is up to each two-year school to decide which degrees it will offer in each subject area, but here are some common degrees and the programs they typically include:

Associate of Arts in:

    • Humanities
    • Social sciences
    • Teaching

Associate of Fine Arts in:

    • Music
    • Theater
    • Art

Associate of Applied Arts in:

    • Interior design
    • Journalism
    • Advertising
    • Public relations
    • Multimedia

Associate of Science in:

    • Mathematics
    • Natural Sciences
    • Technology

Associate in Business Administration in:

    • Accounting
    • Management
    • Office Administration

Associate in Applied Science in:

    • Early Childhood Education
    • Medical Assisting
    • Criminal Justice
    • Automotive Technology
    • Office Technology
    • Information Technology

Associate in Occupational Studies in:

    • Culinary Arts
    • Graphic Design
    • Practical Nursing
    • Electronics Technology

Program Requirements

To enter an associates degree program students may be required to take several basic skills exams, and will be offered non-credit remedial courses if needed. Degree requirements vary by state, but a student in a two-year associate's degree program will take about 20 courses, which will be worth a total of around 60 credit hours.

Associates degree programs require students to take three types of courses, including general studies classes, classes required for their major and electives. Transfer degree programs require more general studies courses than vocational programs.

Why Earn a Degree?

An associate's degree provides students with training and experience that will give them an advantage when seeking entry-level jobs. Community colleges also may have ties to local businesses and industries and may be able to provide job placement assistance.

Graduates with associate's degrees typically end up with higher incomes. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that people who complete an associate's degree program, on average, make more more than high school graduates, earning about $121 dollars more each week in 2006. An associate's degree can also be a less expensive route to earning a bachelor's degree, which may also open the door to even higher paying careers.


An associate's degree is a great educational option for high school graduates because it can help students gain vocational training and also offers an alternative door to entering a four-year college.


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