Home » Degree » Associate Degree

Associate Degree


Among the various degrees students may obtain, the Associate Degree may be the most fundamental degree available. This degree is traditionally awarded after the completion of two years of schooling; however, students may take up to four years to complete this degree. The Associate Degree is typically offered by technical or trade schools, community colleges, and a small handful of four year universities. Typically, there may be a demand for this degree type within working professionals such as paralegals, medical assistants, therapists, and more.

The requirements to earn an Associate Degree are typically much the same for each and every major. Students typically must complete 90 quarter credit hours or 60 semester credit hours of schooling. “General ed” courses such as algebra, humanities, and English may be required to earn this degree. These courses are typically referred to as pre-requisites, or “pre-recs.”


There are two types of Associate Degrees – the transfer degree and the career/technical degree.

• Transfer Degrees - Transfer degrees are designed for students who aspire to study further in a four year degree program. Associate Degrees are designed to allow students to transfer their credits to a four year university.
• Career/Technical Degrees - Technical Degrees aim at specific job markets and offer students preparation to pursue work in their desired field. These types of degrees are much more specialized and typically focus on one area of study.


Let’s look a little closer at Transfer Degrees, shall we?

• Associate of Arts (AA) - This degree emphasizes the basic educational requirements with special stress on liberal arts such as English, History and Political Science.
• Associate of Science (AS) - This degree provides basic educational requirements, with special emphasis on science subjects such as Physics, Mathematics and Chemistry.
• Associate of Fine Arts (AF) - This degree teaches the basic requirements in education and focuses on subjects such as Music, Theatre, and Dance.
• Associate of Art in Teaching (AAT) - This degree allows a student to garner hands-on training on the teaching profession in the 3rd year. Students may obtain a paraprofessional degree while pursuing this degree.


Now, let’s look more closely at the Technical Degree. This degree places a strong emphasis on the actual application of the skills and knowledge students gain via this degree. It focuses demands of the specific chosen job market and practical knowledge rather than sweating out the details of the subjects.

• The Associate in Applied Science (AAS) focuses on the application of science and its vast uses. This degree aims to turn students into professionals so that they may quickly secure a job once they graduate.
• The Associate in Industrial Technology (AIT) provides the necessary training in technical areas such as computers, electrical, and mechanical sectors. This degree prepares students to work in the technical sectors as a whole.
• The next professional degree is the Associate in Business Administration (ABA) which couples the marketing strategies and professionalism. Students can choose from a wide array of majors including business, accounting, marketing, finance, and many more.
• The Associate in Occupational Studies (AOS) is vocational training provided by specialized schools. Students may choose the subject for which they require the training.


The Associate Degree is awarded by two types of institutes: online and campus. Technical schools, community colleges, and a few select four year universities offer campus-based courses. Many students simply prefer the classroom experience, and thus the best choice for them is to earn their degree on campus. This said, the Sloan Consortium reports that 51% of all degrees earned online are Associate Degrees.* Many prefer the convenience that comes with studying at your own pace and on your own time.
Source: Making the Grade: Online Education in the United States, 2006. The Sloan Consortium