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Online Associate Degrees

Article Sources

Sources:

Education Still Pays, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed October 2017, https://www.bls.gov/careeroutlook/2014/data-on-display/education-still-pays.htm

Facts and Figures, The Lumina Foundation, October 2017, https://www.luminafoundation.org/facts-and-figures

Fact Sheet: Focusing Higher Education on Students Success, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Accessed October 2017, https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/fact-sheet-focusing-higher-education-student-success

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Intro to Associate Degrees

Students who want to spend a short time in college but still complete a full degree may want to consider an associate degree program. These programs are the shortest full-length degree programs offered at the undergraduate level and are available in diverse areas, such as criminal justice, allied health, information technology and more. In fact, there are so many different options available through associate degrees, it can be surprising -- and even motivating -- to prospective students.

As compared to other levels of degree, associate degrees:

  • Typically take about two years to complete
  • Are available through vocational schools, community colleges, trade schools and online colleges
  • Require general education courses, like in math and English, as well as specific courses related to a field
  • Offer subject matters in many different fields, not just one or two

Despite these similarities, not all associate degree programs are necessarily the same, even taking into account the differences between different schools and majors. In particular, there are several different ways these programs can be completed. Here are some of the different formats in which an associate degree program can be completed:

  • Career training: Many associate degrees are created to help students prepare for a specific career. Example degrees include HVAC; physical therapy assisting; veterinary assisting; licensed vocation or registered nurse (LVN or RN) training; and radiologic technology.
  • Degree completion options: Other associate degrees are more general in focus, like sociology or criminal justice, but may offer the ability to transfer to a four-year bachelor's degree program later on. These may be known as 'completion' degrees or '2+2' degrees.
  • Quick completion: An associate degree can be completed in as little as two years, and sometimes even quicker. In fact, some high schools now allow students to make a jumpstart on college credit in their senior year, providing them the opportunity to start an associate degree program later with several courses already under their belt.

Benefits of Earning an Online Associate Degree

An associate degree can benefit students in more ways than one, from opportunities for increased pay to better job security. And there are even more benefits for those who pursue such a program online, especially in today's world of busy schedules and increasing commutes. Some of the benefits to completing online associate degree programs include:

  • Higher weekly pay: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.gov) reports that adults with an associate degree have a higher median weekly pay that those with only a high school education or those without a high school diploma.
  • Better job security: Adults with an associate degree also have a lower unemployment rate that those with only a high-school education or some college training (BLS.gov). In fact, the Lumina Foundation (LuminaFoundation.org) reports that four out of five jobs lost during the Great Recession were low-skill jobs and required a high school education or less.
  • Flexibility and freedom: Online associate degrees allow students to save time and money that others spend on commuting. Students also have the freedom to complete homework and assignments at a time that suits them -- as long as they meet class due dates, of course. Some online programs even have rolling admissions, meaning students can find different start dates throughout the year.
  • Promotion/Work opportunities: The BLS estimates that two-thirds of job openings by 2020 are expected to require postsecondary training. Even today, many employers prefer to hire candidates who demonstrate the needed education for the position and/ or the initiative to go back to school to build their skills. An associate degree program can be the perfect way for working adults to advance their education.

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