What Is An Associate Degree And How Long Does It Take?

An associate degree is much like any other academic program and also known as an undergraduate degree. This degree is awarded to students once completing the 2 year program at any community colleges, technical or vocational institutions. The duration of the course may vary depending on the pace of study and it is half the workload of a bachelor’s degree. It is one of the fastest and effective ways of getting students into the job market. It aims to provide students with the basic academic skills, knowledge and technical abilities that are required for a specific career field. An associate degree can either be used as a stepping stone towards a  bachelor’s degree or it may just be a qualification on its own.

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The different types of associate degrees

This can be classified into 4 distinctive categories namely:

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Applied Arts (AAA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

Studying an associate degree is becoming more flexible and cost-effective for students today. The applied courses mainly focus on practical skills which prepares students for their chosen career field. Whereas the Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Arts (AA) courses are more theory-based and targeted at students who want to further their studies towards a bachelor’s degree. 

What career pathways can you go into when studying an associate degree?

This question goes without saying that it varies depending on what type of associate degree you choose and the subject that you are majoring in. In society today, there are a wide variety of high-paying and highly-skilled jobs that students can pursue. For example; dental hygienist, web-developer, beauty therapy, veterinary technicians, paralegals and legal assistants and many more. 

However, students studying a bachelor’s degree will mostly likely have a vast variety of professional career pathways to choose from. Many students would be surprised by how many skilled positions only require an associate degree. Therefore, it would be worth doing research into your career field to check whether you require a bachelor’s degree or an associate level qualification. 

Transitioning between an associate degree to a bachelor’s degree:

The move between the two is quite simple and easy. An associate degree usually takes 2 years to complete which makes it easy to transition to a bachelor's degree. Students will then have 2 years of education along with foundation-level coursework completed. This means that students will only be required to do 2 additional years in order to qualify for a bachelor's degree. Students need to ensure that they have the necessary course credits that are relevant and accepted by the institution offering the bachelor's degree. 

What are the benefits of an associate degree?

  • It provides students with flexibility as the course can be done online 
  • It is cost-effective 
  • Provides a wide range of career opportunities 
  • Focuses on a specific career field which equips students with the knowledge and skills required for their career field 
  • Provides an increased opportunity to graduate as the duration of the program is 2 years and more skilled-orientated

There are many benefits and opportunities related to this degree. When considering this educational path, this is one of the easiest ways to identify the career field you want to pursue. This degree is a powerful tool when heading into the job market as it provides you with all the skills and hands-on experience you need for your career. 

IT'S IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT ASSOCIATE DEGREES ARE NOT OFFERED IN SOUTH AFRICA.

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