What is an Associate’s Degree?

6 minute read
What is an Associate’s Degree

Completing high school, many students look forward to pursuing their professional career as early as possible. The ones who are passionate and eager to venture into a specific career field often take up part-time degree programs alongside their quest to entering the professional domain. Aiming to get familiar with a foundational understanding of their chosen area of study, they are ready to gain real-world exposure and put the theory to experiential learning. If you’re one of those ambitious students who are keen on to gaining professional experience, there are a plethora of programs available which can impart you with necessary skills, help you learn the process of translating those skills into real practice without having to join full-fledged degrees and universities. One such unique combination between a short-diploma diploma and a degree is an Associate’s Degree. In this blog, we aim to explore what is an associate’s degree, major programs you can explore and the top universities you must consider. 

What is an Associate’s Degree?

To begin with the basic meaning of an Associate’s degree, it is actually an academic program that can be pursued right after completing your secondary education. Its main goal is to provide students with the fundamental knowledge and practical aspects of a specific discipline. This practical knowledge helps the students in getting skilled employment or to prepare themselves for advanced level degrees. Generally, these courses are taught in countries like the United States, Hong Kong and Australia. Many different countries, according to their requirements, also provide these courses. 

Types of Associate’s Degrees

After understanding what is an associate’s degree, you must also know its different types and find the best one which aligns with your interests. Here are the four types of associate’s degrees.

  • Associate of Arts (A.A.)
  • Associate of Science (A.S.)
  • Associate of Applied Business (A.A.B.)
  • Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)

Difference Between an Associate’s Degree and Bachelor’s Degree

Since both an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree are pursued after completing secondary education, it can be confusing to choose the right one as per your preferences. Take a look at the following differences between an associate’s degree and bachelor’s degree which will help you make an informed decision.

Degree LevelAssociate’s DegreeBachelor’s Degree
Program Length2 years3 years
Average Annual Tuition Fees (2020-2021)$3,770 $10,560 
Degrees ConferredAssociate of Applied Science (AAS)
Associate of Arts (A.A.)
Associate of Science (A.S.)
Associate of Fine Arts (AFA)
Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)
Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA)
Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.)
Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA)

Associate’s degree, as mentioned earlier, precedes a proper undergraduate or higher education degree program and further stages in the academic journey after secondary education. This sets an elementary level plank and outlines a convenient pathway for stepping into the program you want to opt for in the future. Of course, it should be well kept in mind that you are not familiarized in detail with everything that is taught in the bachelor’s degree. Associate’s degree usually takes a less amount of time and sometimes you can also choose a self-paced mode which will take it longer to complete. Tuition charges are less as compared to a regular degree.

On the other hand, a bachelor’s degree tends to pick the thread from the point where you have left in an associate’s degree. Because the students already have the fundamental knowledge, they can build on that and continue to brush up their skills and further increase their knowledge through robust learning programs available in bachelor’s degrees. Additionally, a bachelor’s degree takes a lot more time period but that’s only because the amount of subjects and the thoroughness of the syllabus is comparatively vast. Furthermore, a bachelor’s degree is the testimony of your achievement at the university level and will open more possible career opportunities than an associate’s degree.

Difference Between an Associate’s Degree and Diploma Degree

Another dilemma many students face is choosing between a diploma degree or an associate degree. Since both degrees are quite similar, students must evaluate their career choices and make decisions accordingly. Here are a few major differences for Associate’s Degree vs Diploma Degree.

Parameters Diploma DegreeAssociate Degree
OverviewA diploma degree is a short term course  focused more on training students in a particular field and building on technical knowledge than on theoretical knowledge. The admission to diploma course can be taken after clearing high school examination (10th).An associate degree is typically designed to be completed in two years or less. Associate degree programs include vocational or  introductory courses through which students can start to learn about a particular field or academic discipline.
Duration1 Year2 Year
Institutions Technical and vocational schools, community colleges.Community colleges and universities.
Popular DegreesBusiness, Criminology, Nutrition. Occupational therapy assistants, Radiation therapists, Air Traffic Controllers, Dental Hygienists, Medical Equipment Repairers

Now that you are familiarized with the basic meaning of this degree, you must start exploring the best associate’s degree courses available in your field of interest. Here we have enlisted some of the top associate programs across different disciplines:

Associate of ArtsAssociate of AgribusinessHospitality Management – Associate Degree
Associate of Arts in Business AdministrationAssociate in Applied Science – AgricultureAdvanced technician in international trade
Associate of Arts in General Studies with a concentration in BusinessAssociate of Applied Science in Business: AccountingAssociate in Applied Science in Business Management and Computer Application
Academy Professional (AP) degree in Environmental and Agricultural ManagementAssociate in Arts: Business and Information Management, Communication, International Studies, Arts or Music

Top Colleges & Universities

Here are the major colleges and universities in the world offering a wide range of associate’s degree programs in varied fields and specialisations:

  • North Iowa Area Community College
  • Sullivan County Community College
  • SUNY Clinton Community College
  • Tallahassee Community College
  • Seward County Community College
  • Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
  • Abraham Lincoln University
  • Salzburg College
  • Alexander College
  • University Canada West (UCW)
  • Glendale Community College
  • Westchester Community College
  • West Hills College – Coalinga
  • Emirates College for Management & Information Technology
  • International Business College Mitrovica (IBCM)

Colleges in India for Associate’s Degree

There are many colleges that offer associate degrees in India which spans over two years. The courses range from humanities, business, to social science fields. The following are a list of colleges in India that offer associate degrees.

  • University of Mumbai
  • Pune University
  • Panjab University
  • Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar
  • University of Calcutta
  • Vidyasagar University
  • Kurukshetra University
  • Maharshi Dayanand University, Rohtak
  • University of Mysore
  • Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj Nagpur University
  • Karnataka University
  • Kuvempu University
  • Sant Gadge Baba Amravati University, Amravati
  • Dr. B.A. Marathwada University
  • RTM Nagpur University
  • Shivaji University, Kolhapur

Cost of Studying an Associate’s Degree

Since an associate degree is shorter than a bachelor’s degree, tuition fees are quite lower. This is a suitable option for candidates planning to study abroad. The difference in costs will vary across institutions, but students can expect to pay around two to three times less for an associate’s degree. The cost of studying abroad will depend on the university and course. The average fees of studying an associate degree abroad is USD 3,730 (INR 2,77,354)/year (USA), $33,000 (INR 19,62,703)/year (Canada).

Career Scope

While exploring the best associate’s degree programs, you must also familiarize yourself with the vast job opportunities offered for graduates. Associate’s degrees are generally application-based, teaching students the various practical aspects of skills. Here are some of the most prominent career pathways (can differ as per the program) that you can choose from after an associate degree:

Electric TechnicianAir Traffic ControllerAvionics TechnicianNetwork Technician
Civil DrafterBroadcast TechnicianCivil Engineering TechnicianBiomedical Technician
Architectural TechnicianAdvertising Sales AgentHealthcare TechnicianPhysical Therapy Assistant
Instrument TechnicianCardiac Catheterization TechnicianAudio and Visual Equipment Technician

Hence, we hope that this blog provided you with all the key features of what is an associate’s degree and the major associate degree courses offered across the world. Thinking about pursuing a short-term course after 12th? Our Leverage Edu experts can lend you a helping hand in exploring the top short-term courses and universities as per your interests, aspirations and preferences! Sign up for a free session with us today!

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