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How Many Credits Do You Need For an Associate’s Degree?
Most likely, you have heard a few things about associate degrees. Perhaps you heard that earning one takes less time and money than a four-year degree. But just how many credits do you need for an associate’s degree?
In this article, we’ll go over the college credits and time needed to earn an associate’s degree. We will also answer some other basic questions about types of associate degrees you can earn, how long it takes, and the benefits of earning one. Let’s start by answering our main question.
How many credits do you need for an associate’s degree?
We’ll start by answering the most basic question that most people ask:. How many credits do you need to earn an associate’s degree? A typical associate’s degree requires students to complete 60 credit hours. While 60 credit hours may seem a lot, your course load will roughly come out to 20 three-credit hour courses. The good news is, those credits don’t have to be completed within two years. If you want to pursue a college degree, but also have to work full or part time, you can take these classes at a slower pace.
While 60 credits is average, this number may change slightly depending on the college you choose to attend and what field of study you earn your degree in. Always double check with the school you plan to attend about what the exact requirements are.
How long does it take to earn an associate’s degree?
For many people, the appeal of an associate’s degree is how quickly you can earn one. Typically, it will take two to three years. However, as we mentioned before, not everyone has the luxury of being able to pursue their education full time. If you have to work full time, taking one to two classes a semester may be the most you can do at a time. If that is the case, that is entirely alright and it shouldn’t be something that discourages you from trying to pursue an associate’s degree.
There may be a sense that you need to finish your associate’s degree quickly, however, that is not true. An associate’s degree is still a college degree, so pursuing one is a big deal. Don’t be tempted to minimize this endeavor because it is one of the “faster” degree tracks. How long your associate’s degree takes you is based around you and how much time you have available.
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What if I already have some college credit?
If you already have some college credit, make sure your school knows. While not all colleges will accept credits from other institutions, most will. If you know where you would like to attend, you can usually find out if your credits will transfer by calling them or visiting their website.
Some college websites will have a transfer guide available that says what classes they accept. If you can’t find some of your classes on their list, it is always worth inquiring further about them.
There can often be a lot of different names for one type of class. Ask someone to look at your transcripts directly. Even if your class isn’t explicitly listed on a college’s website, they may still accept your credits. Transferology is a great tool to use to check with many schools about what credits they will accept.
What can you get an associate’s degree in?
Associate degrees come in a wide array of subjects. The three most common associate degrees are an Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and an Associate of Applied Science. Below are the basic outlines for what each of those tracks focuses on. For a more detailed description of each, check out our article about the basics of associate degrees.
Associate of Arts (AA)
Associate of Science (AS)
- Science and technical coursework
Associate of Applied Science (AAS)
- Occupational coursework focus
What is the purpose of an associate’s degree?
The purpose of an associate’s degree varies depending on the person who is seeking it. Some people want a more gradual introduction to college. Others may know that their future career choice does not require a four year degree and do not want to pursue more formal education than needed. Some people pursue an associate’s degree to make themselves more competitive job candidates.
Whatever the reason, pursuing higher education is always something that can be beneficial. Even if you don’t have an exact plan for your degree, that’s okay. Education is a tool that can unlock doors you don’t yet know about. You don’t need to have a firm plan in order to pursue further education. If it is something you are passionate about, that is a good enough reason to pursue your degree!
What does it cost to receive an associate’s degree?
An associate’s degree requires completion of the same type of college classes that you would if you were attending a four year university. So, funding an associate’s is similar to funding a bachelor’s degree. However, because an associate’s requires fewer credit hours, they usually will not cost nearly as much.
Federal financial aid and scholarships are both options that can help you fund your education. If you plan to file FAFSA, you should follow all the same deadlines as you would if you were in a bachelor’s or graduate program. And if you are applying for scholarships, make sure they can be used towards an associate’s degree and do not require you to be enrolled in a four-year degree program.
If you have a burning desire to earn your associate’s, take advantage of all the available resources to find out what kind of financial help is out there. Talk with the college you plan to attend about whether they have any degree payment programs. If they do have ways in which they can help you, they will want you to know and be happy to inform you.
Can an associate’s degree be put towards a bachelor’s degree?
A bachelor’s degree typically requires twice the number of credits that an associate’s degree does. The credits that you receive from an associate’s degree, however, can typically be used towards your bachelor’s. Regardless of if you plan to pursue a higher level of education, it’s a good idea to talk to your university or college about if they will accept the credits you already have towards a bachelor’s.
As we said earlier in this article, sites like Transferology will tell you what credits you earned will count towards your next degree. And as always, talk to advisors at your school about what pursuing your bachelor’s, after receiving an associate’s, will look like.
Frequently asked questions about associate degrees
Is an associate’s degree worth it?
Yes! Depending on the reason for pursuing an associate’s degree, there are plenty of positives. For some students, an associate’s degree is the ticket in the door career-wise. This is especially true of STEM and medical fields (think nursing and web development type careers). If a four-year degree is the goal, an associate’s degree can be a low cost stepping stone.
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How much does an associate’s degree cost?
That depends. First of all, students who attend community college (where the majority of associate degrees are earned) are eligible for financial aid (don’t forget to fill out that FAFSA!). College tuition varies from state to state, so where you attend college factors in. The nationwide average to earn an associate’s degree is $3,900 for a public college, which is pretty impressive!