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Career Planning
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Associate degrees are a type of undergraduate degree that can be earned after two years of full-time study -- or once 60 semester credit hours are completed. While many people earn an associate degree before moving onto a four-year degree program, others use their two-year degrees to begin careers in a wide range of professional and technical industries.

Subject

Benefits of Online Associate Degrees

Earning an associate degree comes with many benefits. For starters, Associate degrees can be earned on a shorter timeline than four-year degrees, which can mean quicker entry into the workforce. Meanwhile, a growing body of research shows that associate degrees will be in high demand in the future. According to a Georgetown University study on job growth and education requirements through 2020, 30 percent of job openings through 2020 will require candidates to have an associate degree or better. Further, many of the industries where associate degrees dominate -- health care, community services and STEM fields, for example -- are expected to be some of the fastest-growing occupational clusters.

While earning a two-year, associate degree can help students enter the workforce quickly, it can also be more affordable in the long run. According to figures from the College Board, average tuition at a public two-year school was just $3,347 for the 2014-15 school year, while tuition at public, four-year schools averaged out to $9,139. With such a huge disparity in the cost of these programs, it's no wonder that so many students see associate degrees as a faster, more affordable option.

Types of Associate Degree Programs

Students interested in a two-year degree can choose one of the following options:

  • Associate of Arts (A.A.): This degree is designed to transfer to a four-year college or university.
  • Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.): This degree option is designed to prepare graduates for career entry or job advancement after two years of college study.
  • Associate of Science (A.S.): This degree type is designed to transfer to a four-year college or university.
  • Occupational degrees: Also referred to as applied degree programs, this option is designed to prepare students to enter the workforce immediately following graduation.

Financial Considerations

While associate degrees are less expensive than traditional, four-year degrees, it's still important to plan carefully for the cost of college. Potential students should take the following steps when choosing a degree program and preparing for the cost.

  1. Fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. This form helps state and federal agencies determine eligibility for financial aid
  2. Compare tuition costs at a few schools that offer your desired degree program. Include the cost of student room and board, if applicable
  3. Consider flexible, online degrees in your desired field and compare costs and other benefits
  4. Ask your school's financial aid office about any institution-based aid that may be available.

Online Associate Degrees Available

WorldWideLearn.com features colleges and universities that offer online associate degree programs in the following disciplines:

Accounting

Art & Design

Building Information Modeling

Business Administration

Communication

Computer Programming

Criminal Investigation

Criminal Justice

Early Childhood Development

Education

Engineering

Graphic Design

Health Sciences

Hospitality Management

Human Resources

Paralegal & Legal Studies

Marketing

Medical Administrative Assistant

Medical Assistant

Medical Billing & Coding

Nursing

Technology & IT

Sources

"Average Public Tuition Undergraduate Charges by Sector, 2014-15," College Board, http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-published-undergraduate-charges-sector-2014-15

"Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm#tab-1

"Bookkeeping, Accounting and Auditing Clerks, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes433031.htm

"Computer Programmers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151131.htm

"Computer Programmers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/computer-programmers.htm#tab-1

"Detectives and Criminal Investigators," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm

"Drafters," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes173019.htm

"Graphic Designers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271024.htm

"Human Resource Assistants, Except Payroll and Timekeeping," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes434161.htm

"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm

"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-1

"Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131161.htm

"Paralegals and Legal Assistants," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm

"Paralegals and Legal Assistants," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-1

"Preschool Teachers," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-1

"Recovery: Job Growth and Educational Requirements through 2020," Georgetown University, https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Recovery2020.ES_.Web_.pdf

"Veterinary Technologists and Technicians," Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm#tab-1

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