What is an associate degree?

Career & Education

What is an associate degree?

Sunday, January 05, 2020

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An associate is a two-year college degree offered at most community colleges, technical colleges, vocational schools, and some four-year universities. Associate's degrees, which have been popular for the last 20 years, translate to the first two years of a bachelor's degree (freshman and sophomore years).

Increasingly, people are turning to associate's as a quicker, less expensive route to career change than the traditional bachelor's or four-year degree.

Degrees awarded are usually an associate of arts/associate in arts (AA) or an associate of science/associate in science (AS). AA degrees are usually earned in the liberal arts and sciences such as humanities and social science fields; AS degrees are awarded to those studying in applied scientific and technical fields and professional fields of study. Generally, one year of study is focused on college-level general education and the second year is focused on the area of discipline.

Students can typically transfer credits earned in an associate programme towards a bachelor's degree programme. One can find rewarding associate degree jobs in a wide array of industries. Take for example, allergy technician, architectural technician, crop production specialist.

Many associate degree jobs have a short payback timeframe of only two years due to a high median salary and a substantially lower tuition rate than a bachelor's degree. One can launch a lucrative career with this two-year college degree, sometimes even making more money than workers with a bachelor's degree.

In Europe, qualifications on the short cycle of the Bologna Process/level 5 on the European Qualifications Framework sit between secondary education and bachelor's degree level and are thus approximately equivalent to an associate degree. Such qualifications include the foundation degree (FdA, FdSc, FdEng), Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) and Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in the United Kingdom, the Higher Certificate in the Republic of Ireland, and the French Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie (DUT) and Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS).

Common associate degree titles include:


• Associate of Applied Business (AAB)

• Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

• Associate of Applied Technology (AAT)

• Associate of Arts (AA)

• Associate of Arts in Teaching (AAT)

• Associate of Business Administration (ABA)

• Associate of Electrical Engineering Technology (AEET)

• Associate of Electronics (AE)

• Associate of Engineering (AE/AEng)

• Associate of Engineering Technology (AET/AEngT)

• Associate of Forestry (AF)

• Associate of General Studies (AGS)

• Associate of Industrial Technology (AIT)

• Associate of Nursing (AN)/Associate Degree Nurse/Nursing (ADN)

• Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

• Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS)

• Associate of Science (AS)

• Associate of Science in Computer Assisted Design (AS-CAD)

• Associate of Technology (AT)


— The Best Schools & Geteducated

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