How Long Does It Take To Get An Associate Degree?

How Long Does It Take To Get An Associate Degree?

When considering the question, How long does it take to get an associate degree? Its important to understand that an associate degree is an undergraduate program that is often given by community colleges. It aims to produce students who have basic and technical knowledge and skills that would help in employment in their chosen field.

If you are a full-time student, this degree only takes about 2 years to obtain; however, for people already working, obtaining an associate degree might take longer since the candidate has to enroll in the part-time program. 

Associate degrees are pretty common in the United States but some options can be found in parts of Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, and the Netherlands. Unlike Master’s or PhD programs, this course requires the students to finish their secondary level education only. 

Why choose an associate degree?

There are various reasons to choose an associate’s degree. Obtaining this degree can help students enter the workplace more quickly. Moreover, this program is cost-effective when compared to a bachelor’s degree.  Some students also choose to study for an associate degree if they do not have strong enough grades to get admitted to a reputed university. 

Another major reason is many students prefer to pay lower tuition fees for a few years before applying for a transfer. This could essentially save thousands of dollars for the students. 

However, despite all this, the best way to consider an associate degree is by analysing the career the student would want to get into. It is always recommended to gain insights on the degree that could help in getting the position you want to pursue on the work front. 

It may even be beneficial for the student to look through job postings that are currently available in the nation where they wish to work and to learn more about the most sought-after credentials and abilities by potential employers.

What is the difference between a bachelor’s degree and associate degree?

Both bachelor’s degree and associate’s degree come under undergraduate programs which means any student who has completed secondary-level education can apply for these. However, there are some key differences between both of them. Some prominent ones are:

1. Timeline:

To qualify for either of these programs, students are expected to maintain a certain number of study hours or course credits. An associate degree usually takes around 2 years to get done however, this again depends on the institution and its location. In the United States, students are required to maintain 60 credit hours over 120 hours as required for a bachelor’s degree.

Moreover, a lot of students choose to do part-time courses which means the degree would take longer to complete. Additionally, some students choose the fast-track course and even study during vacations to finish the associate degree in a short period.

To decrease the time required for a bachelor’s degree, students who have earned an associate’s degree may be eligible to transfer certain applicable course credits.

2. Costs:

The tuition fee for an associate degree is lower since the course takes less time to get done. There is a considerable cost difference between an associate’s degree and a bachelor’s degree. Again, the cost difference depends on the university but on average, students will have to pay around two or three times less for an associate’s degree. 

3. Eligibility requirements:

Applications for associate’s degrees are typically lesser and less competitive than it is for bachelor’s degrees. Moreover, the admission deadline for an associate degree is much later than for a Bachelor’s degree. For students who don’t quite meet the prerequisites for a bachelor’s degree possibly because they took more vocational courses or didn’t quite earn good enough grades this can be an option.

How long does it take to get an associate degree?

The primary factor that affects the duration of the course is if it’s full-time or part-time enrollment. Typically, students need to earn 60 credits to graduate in associate programs. Every semester, a full-time student earns about 12-15 credit hours while a student enrolled in part-time earns less than 12 credit hours every semester. 

1. Full-time student duration:

Full-time students can easily obtain an associate degree in two years or around two and a half years. However, this could be a lot more for part-time students who tend to take fewer classes every semester. This could result in their degree extending by 48 months or sometimes, more. Other advantages of a full-time associate degree include:

  • Higher completion rate: Earning an associate’s degree with a full-time enrollment takes lesser time, students are highly motivated to graduate on time. 
  • Scholarship opportunities: Even though there are plenty of scholarships available for most part time students, many scholarships require the student to be employed full-time to be eligible.
  • Campus life experience: Enrolling in a full time program gives students various opportunities to participate in campus related events and activities. Additionally, this could help in building a connection with peers and allows extensive networking.

2. Part-time students duration:

If students would like to study at their own pace and have a reduced course load each semester, they can also gain from part-time enrollment. It is important for students to keep in mind that choosing part-time enrollment for their associate degree will result in an extension of its duration from 48 to 72 months. Some benefits of a part-time associate program includes:

  • Low tuition: Students enrolled in part time programs are required to pay credits on an hourly basis. For full time students, they have to pay per semester or year hence causing financial burden on the student. Part-time enrollment allows the students to plan their expenses and balance their tuition fee with other costs efficiently.
  • Earning while enrolled in a program: Full-time students often find it extremely challenging to strike a healthy balance between work and school. While at the same time, students enrolled in part time programs have freedom to work and study together. 

Career choices with an associate’s degree:

Careers with an associate’s degree could vary in terms of the type of associate’s degree and the subject of major. Various jobs in the market could pay relatively high and many highly skilled jobs can be applied for using an associate degree. These job opportunities can range in a wide range of sectors such as dental hygienist, web developer, nuclear technician, radiation therapist and air traffic controller among many others. 

Gaining a bachelor’s degree will probably lead to even more employment options, but before paying hefty tuition, it’s important to confirm that you truly need one to pursue your desired field of work. The number of skilled positions that only demand an associate’s degree may surprise you.

Furthermore, bachelor’s degree holders frequently need to complete additional professional training before they can begin working because many bachelor’s degrees are more intellectual than practical.

Where to get an associate degree?

Associate degree programs are mostly offered by community colleges. Apart from that, online schools and technical colleges can also provide these programs to students. Universities offering four-year undergraduate degrees could also sometimes enroll students for associate degree programs.

Many students complete their associate degree from a community college. These colleges offer a variety of associate degrees which prepare students to start their careers and transfer to a university to continue their education. There are plenty of benefits to picking a community college. Students are often recommended to check out the best community colleges in Florida since they have a huge range of major options available for the students. 

These colleges have affordable tuition costs and for students planning to continue their education at a four-year university, finishing two years of undergraduate study in a community college could help them save thousands of dollars. Moreover, these colleges could feel less intimidating owing to their small size and capacity than compared to regular universities. 

Community colleges are reputed for providing students with a comfortable learning environment as they move from their high school atmosphere to a college one. Since associate degree classes typically have less enrollment, students can get to know their professors during their academic career. An associate degree can also be completed by adult learners who return to school in a smaller, more individualized setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is an associate degree valid for graduation in the United States?

An associate degree is a skill-oriented program especially designed to allow students to enter the job market at an earlier stage. This program is considered equivalent to a bachelor’s degree in the United States.

2. Can students apply to Harvard with an associate’s degree?

Yes. If a student has an associate degree, it is possible to enter Harvard as a transfer student. However, it should be kept in mind that this could be very difficult since Harvard accepts very few transfer students every year.

3. Do UK universities accept associate’s degrees?

Yes. Many universities in the United Kingdom are happy to take associate degree holders to participate in their programs. 

4. What is an associate degree equal to?

In the United States, an associate degree is equal to the first two years of a four-year college or university degree. It is the lowest in the hierarchy of academic degrees after post-secondary education.

5. What is the meaning of an associate bachelor’s degree?

An associate degree is half of a bachelor’s degree and is often done at a community college. It is always permissible to carry on from there and work on a Bachelor’s degree by taking a transfer to another university. 


A bachelor’s degree can be started considerably sooner for students who pursue an associate’s degree, which also equips them to enter the job in their chosen sector much sooner. When choosing between full- or part-time employment, take into account your personal and professional obligations.

To shorten the time required to graduate, students can look at additional possibilities like online learning, accelerated programs, and credit transfer. It is worthwhile to pursue an associate degree because of its many advantages. But that doesn’t mean that pupils have to take a predetermined route. Their route may involve taking a year off to work to pay for living expenses, travel and experience new places, or pursue other interests. 

Generally speaking, obtaining an associate’s degree is less expensive and requires less time than a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, it can assist students in pursuing new career pathways in professional domains like computer science, engineering, and medicine.

Following the completion of their associate degree, students are presented with two options. They can continue their education by applying to bachelor’s degree programs, or they can work in a variety of disciplines, such as engineering, computer science, medicine, or law.

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