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How many credits do you need to complete an associate degree?

    There are many reasons you might be looking to secure an associate degree. You may be looking to complete the degree to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Or you may be looking to enter a particular vocation and are therefore looking to secure an associate degree. Or you may simply want an associate degree to further your education while deciding what to do next.

    Whatever your reason for pursuing an associate degree, it’s important to understand how many credits you’ll need and the requirements to complete the degree.

    In this article, we’ll cover why people choose to get an associate degree, what types of schools offer associate degrees, the various associate degrees, and how many credits it takes to complete the degree. Keep reading to get some of these commonly asked questions answered.

    Why do people get associate degrees?

    An associate degree aims to provide individuals with the necessary education, skills, and credentials to enter the workforce or continue their education at a higher level. This degree is often considered a stepping stone towards career or education goals. Some students use the degree to pursue a particular career path, like nursing. Others use the degree to set the foundation for their undergraduate education, and after they complete their associate degree, they go on to complete a bachelor’s degree.  

    What schools offer associate degrees?

    You can enroll in an associate degree program through several post-secondary institutions such as community colleges, vocational colleges, technical colleges, and some traditional four-year colleges.

    How many credits are required for an associate degree?

    Generally, 60 credit hours are needed to complete an associate degree. These 60 credits typically consist of general education courses and program-specific courses. Remember that the requirements can vary depending on your field of study, program, and school.

    For reference, bachelor’s degrees typically require 120 credit hours (although, again, this will depend on the school and program).

    How long does an associate degree take to complete?

    Associate degrees typically take around two years to complete. However, this depends on how many classes you take each semester and whether you’re a full-time or part-time student. Check with your school and program about the requirements you’ll need to meet, and the time required to complete the degree.

    As a point of comparison, bachelor’s degrees typically take four years to complete. Students who want to complete a bachelor’s degree after they obtain their associate degree are likely able to use the credits they accumulated completing their associate degree to put towards their bachelor’s degree. In other words, students can complete an associate and bachelor’s degree in four years.

    What are the different kinds of associate degrees?

    You can get your associate degree in many fields of study. Below, you’ll find the most common types of associate degrees. It’s important to note that all of these degrees can help you transfer into a bachelor's degree program. That being said, many differentiate these associate degrees by those that prepare students for the workforce and those that prepare students for bachelor’s degrees.

    Associate of Arts (AA)

    This degree typically focuses on liberal arts and humanities subjects such as English, psychology, sociology, history, and fine arts. This degree is often considered a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree like a bachelor of arts.

    Associate of Science (AS)

    An AS degree is geared towards science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Requirements for this degree can include biology, chemistry, and computer science classes. This degree is often considered a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree like a bachelor of science.

    Associate of Applied Science (AAS):

    An AAS degree is designed to provide practical skills and knowledge for specific professions. An AAS degree is meant to prepare students for fields such as healthcare, business, technology, culinary arts, automotive technology, and criminal justice.

    Associate of Business Administration (ABA):

    An ABA focuses on preparing students for business-related careers such as marketing, management, accounting, and finance. It provides a foundation for entry-level positions in the business field.

    Associate of Fine Arts (AFA)

    An AFA degree centers on creative disciplines such as visual arts, performing arts, music, theater, and design. This degree is commonly pursued by individuals aiming for careers in the arts or as a foundation to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program focusing on the arts.

    Associate of Nursing (ASN)

    An ASN is specific to the nursing field and prepares students for entry-level positions as registered nurses (RNs). Coursework can include nursing theory, clinical practice, and healthcare sciences.

    Final thoughts

    If you’re interested in attaining an associate degree, do your research to make sure the degree aligns with your education or career goals. If you feel it does, start putting a plan in motion to realize this goal.