Online Associate Degrees

Associate's degrees are a type of undergraduate degree typically requiring a minimum of 60 semester credit hours. Full-time study is equivalent to four semesters at 15 credits hours per semester-about five classes per semester. That usually takes about two years to complete, with summers off. Once a student earns an associate degree, they typically need another two years, or 60 credit hours, to earn a bachelor's degree if they decide to pursue that route

Benefits of Online Associate's Degrees

Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics show that more than 60 percent of U.S. worker's don't have a bachelor's degree. Fortunately, according to the BLS, there are many occupations that require less than a bachelor's degree to enter, yet have median annual wages over $50,000. While a bachelor's degree may not be required for all careers, however, additional education in the form of associate's degrees may make individuals more competitive applicants for many positions.

There are certain circumstances where online associate's degrees may be a good fit for someone seeking to advance their education. Someone who would like to earn a bachelor degree eventually, but who isn't yet sure what they want to major in. Someone who would like to spend some time in "the real world" earning money and gaining professional experience in between their associate and bachelor's degree.

Online associate's degrees may also be a good fit for someone who isn't sure whether a bachelor's degree is right for them, but recognizes that additional education may enhance their career prospects. Someone looking for a cost-effective way to gain the additional education needed to switch from their current career to another. A prospective student who doesn't live near a traditional campus. In other words, online associate's degrees may be a sound choice in a variety of situations!

Types of Associate's Degree Programs

Just as there are different bachelor degrees available (bachelor of arts, bachelor of fine arts, bachelor of science, etc.) there are different types of associate degree programs. These include:

  • Associate of Arts degree (A.A.): This degree is designed to transfer to a four-year college or university.
  • Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.): Designed to prepare graduates for career entry or job advancement after two years of college study. Associate of applied science degrees may transfer in whole, or in part, to four-year colleges. Applied science degrees are sometimes designated by occupational specific titles, such as Associate in Engineering Technology, Associate in Business etc.
  • Associate of Science (A.S.): Designed to transfer to a four-year college or university.
  • Occupational degrees: Also referred to as applied degree programs, an occupational degree program at a two-year college is designed to prepare students to enter the workforce immediately following graduation, for example as a veterinary technician or medical assistant. The primary function is career preparation; however, some courses and/or programs may transfer to four-year colleges.

It's important to think carefully about career goals when selecting an associate degree program. Depending on the field a student's aiming to to get into, one type of associate degree may make a more competitive job applicant than another. Putting some thought into this process before applying may make for a smoother transition into the workforce later.

What Can You Do With an Associate's Degree?

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

  • Accounting: Bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks earned a median salary of $35,730 in 2013, according to the BLS. The BLS projects that growth in this field is anticipated to grow 11 percent between 2012 and 2022.
  • Accounting Technology: The BLS reports that rather than reduce the need for accounting workers, technological changes in the field are actually expected to help bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks do their jobs.
  • Art & Design: An associate degree in this field may prepare individuals for a career as a craft and fine artist, or to go on to additional education in a variety of art-related fields.
  • Building Information Modeling: Drafters earned a median annual wage of $47,680 in 2013, though growth not expected in this career field.
  • Business Administration: An associate degree in business administration may prepare you for entry-level positions in a variety of office settings, or to go on for more specialized education.
  • Communication: Communication may also provide students with skills transferable into a wide variety of careers. According to BLS data, individuals working in communication fields had a median salary of $45,200 in 2013.
  • Computer Programming: The BLS reports that computer programmers had a median salary of $76,140 in 2013. Employment in this field is projected to grow 8 percent from 2012 to 2022.
  • Criminal Investigation: BLS data show that detectives and criminal investigators had a median salary of $76,730 in 2013, and employment is expected to grow grow 11 percent from 2012 to 2022.
  • Criminal Justice: An associate degree in criminal justice may prepare students for a wide variety of careers in this field.
  • Early Childhood Development: Preschool teachers earned a median salary of $27,570 in 2013, according to BLS data, and employment in this field is expected to grow 17 percent from 2012 to 2022.
  • Education: Those interested in going on to become elementary, middle, or high school teachers may seek an associate degree in education, though most teaching careers require a bachelor degree.
  • Engineering: Most engineers go on to additional education and specialization. However, an associate degree in this field may help students decide what area within the broader field to pursue.
  • Graphic Design: Graphic designers earned a median salary of $44,830 in 2013, and growth in the field is expected to be 7 percent over the next decade, according to the BLS.
  • Health Sciences: Associate degrees in the health sciences may include specializations such as Health Care Administration and Health Information Technology. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, an aging Baby Boomer population, and quickly-changing technology, this is expected to be a fast-growing career field over the next decade.
  • Hospitality Management: Whether you are interested in lodging, food services, or the tourism industry, an associate degree in hospitality management may help you get your foot in the door.
  • Human Resources: According to BLS data, in 2013 human resources assistants earned a median salary of $37,680, and employment in this field is expected to grow 7 percent from 2012 to 2022.
  • Paralegal & Legal Studies: The BLS reports that in 2013 paralegals and legal assistants earned a median salary of $47,570. From 2012 to 2022, employment in this field is expected to grow 17 percent.
  • Marketing: BLS data indicate that marketing specialists earned a median salary of $60,800 in 2013, and employment is projected to grow 32 percent from 2012 to 2022. This is much faster than the average for all occupations.
  • Medical-Related: These associate degrees include Medical Administrative Assistant, Medical Assistant, and Medical Billing & Coding. Like degrees in health sciences, recent changes to the law combine with an aging population and technological innovations combine to make this field a fast-growing one over the next decade.
  • Nursing: Approved educational programs may prepare individuals for careers as Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses. LPNs and LVNs earned a median salary of $41,920 in 2013, according to the BLS, and employment is expected to grow 25 percent between 2012 and 2022.
  • Technology & IT: Associate degrees in these areas also include specializations such as Computer Networking, Information Systems, Multimedia Technology, and Web Design. With technology becoming increasingly integrated into every aspect of our lives, individuals seeking these degrees have a wide variety of career options.
  • Veterinary Technician: Vet techs earned a median salary of $30,500 in 2013, according to the BLS, and employment in this field is expected to grow 30 percent between 2012 and 2022.

Sources

"Veterinary Technologists and Technicians," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/veterinary-technologists-and-technicians.htm#tab-6

"29-2056 Veterinary Technologists and Technicians," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292056.htm

"High wages after high school -- without a bachelor's degree," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Summer 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooq/2012/summer/art03.pdf

"Drafters," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/drafters.htm#tab-1

"29-2061 Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes292061.htm

"43-3031 Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes433031.htm

"33-3021 Detectives and Criminal Investigators," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes333021.htm

"Bookkeeping, Accounting, and Auditing Clerks," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/office-and-administrative-support/bookkeeping-accounting-and-auditing-clerks.htm#tab-1

"27-1024 Graphic Designers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes271024.htm

"Preschool Teachers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/preschool-teachers.htm#tab-1

"17-3019 Drafters, All Other," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes173019.htm

"25-2011 Preschool Teachers, Except Special Education," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes252011.htm

"Private Detectives and Investigators," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/protective-service/private-detectives-and-investigators.htm#tab-1

"23-2011 Paralegals and Legal Assistants," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes232011.htm

"Graphic Designers," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/arts-and-design/graphic-designers.htm#tab-1

"43-4161 Human Resources Assistants, Except Payroll and Timekeeping," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes434161.htm

"Human Resources Specialists and Labor Relations Specialists," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/human-resources-specialists-and-labor-relations-specialists.htm#tab-1

"13-1161 Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 1, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes131161.htm

"Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm#tab-1

"Paralegals and Legal Assistants," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/legal/paralegals-and-legal-assistants.htm#tab-1

"Market Research Analysts," U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 8, 2014, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/market-research-analysts.htm#tab-1

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