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Information on Acquiring an Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree is an undergraduate degree granted by accredited academic institutions such as community colleges, vocational schools, and universities. An associate’s degree is considered the lowest in the hierarchy of educational levels or academic degrees. Associate’s degrees are awarded to students who successfully complete two years of full-time study which generally consist of 60 credit hours of courses. These courses can also be used towards obtaining a bachelor’s degree in that same career field. Although associate’s degrees are adequate enough to work in some professions, there are many other professions which require a higher degree level of education.

The three most common types of associate’s degrees are the Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.), the Associate of Science (A.S.), and the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.). A.A. degrees are granted to students who specialize in the social science or humanities fields. A.S. degrees are granted to students who specialize in the scientific field. A.A.S degrees are granted to students who specialize in the trades or vocational field.

Associate’s degrees are obtained with one of two purposes in mind. Students may want to work professionally and there are numerous occupations which require their applicants to have a minimum of an associate’s degree. This route offers a higher salary (as compared to those without an associate’s degree) and jobs are available immediately upon completion of the program. In only two short years, students gain the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in that specific occupation.

The other reason is that obtaining an associate’s degree is the first step towards obtaining a bachelor’s degree in a specific career field. Therefore, in cases like these, an associate’s degree is required to further one’s education.

Students aspiring to acquire an associate’s degree must have a few requirements when applying to a college, vocational school, or university. Successful completion of high school or an academic equivalent (such as a GED) is required along with high school transcripts displaying grades obtained in completed courses. SAT or ACT test scores are almost always required as well. If a student fulfills all of these requirements, then an application form from the college or university the student wishes to attend must be completed and submitted along with an application fee, which of course varies depending on the institution. Volunteer and/or work experience in their area of specialization is always beneficial to the student and will aid in their acceptance during the application process. Tuition fees for obtaining an associate’s degree may vary from $8,085 to $23,871.

There are a number of benefits to obtaining an associate’s degree. Upon completion of the program, students may gain employment immediately and earn much more than individuals who have not attained any further education past high school. Employers prefer applicants who have an associate’s degree over those who do not. Acquiring an associate’s degree lets employers and customers know that the individual encompasses the knowledge, skills, and experience to competently and efficiently perform their job.

However, associate’s degrees are somewhat limited as far as opportunities and salary; a student with an associate’s degree who would like to advance to a higher position as well as salary, should continue onto getting bachelor’s degree.

Below are a few links related to obtaining an associate’s degree in a specific career field.