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Associate degree programs take two years to complete and are offered by community colleges, private technical schools and junior colleges. Programs typically lead to an associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS) or associate of applied science (AAS) degree.
Students often choose associate programs when they want to receive a general arts and sciences education with potential cost savings over a four-year school. Another incentive is increased earning power in the job market. In most cases, students completing a high school diploma can apply directly to associate programs without having to take college placement examinations. Classes are comprised of instructor lectures, class discussions, projects, papers, quizzes and tests.
An associate education can represent a terminal degree in qualifying for specific careers, or it can satisfy general education requirements for transfers to a four-year school. Online associate degree programs provide a solid option for students with family or work obligations that preclude them from attending classes on campus. The purpose of this guide is to walk potential associate degree earners through the benefits, challenges and processes involved in earning this two-year credential.