What is an Associates Degree

An Associate Degree is an undergraduate degree that requires a minimum of at least 60 semester credit hours which is the equivalent of (2)two years or (4) four semesters study. This is the lowest academic degree offered in the US and Canada which prepares you for vocational(work) purpose or transfer to a four-year bachelor’s program.

The program usually consists of three (3) parts; general education requirements, major requirements and electives usually in area of major.

It can be done in-classroom (on campus) or out-of-classroom (Internet or distance education). Out-of-classroom can also include an on-line accelerated associate degree. The advantages of out-of-classroom study include doing it at your own pace and convenience.

This type of degree is awarded by community, junior and technical colleges and indicates that the completed program of study is broad based in general education with knowledge in a specific area.

There are four main types of associate degree programs:

1.Associate of Arts degree(AA)-this prepares for transfer to a four years
university bachelor’s program
2.Associate of Applied Science(AAS)-this prepares you for transfer to a four years
university program, career entry or job
3.Associate Degree of Science(AS)-this degree prepares one for transfer to a four
year university program
4.Occupational studies/Applied Degree (AOS)-this prepares one for entry into
workforce upon graduation or transfer to a
university four year program.

The Associate degree can also be categorized as follows

1. Transfer degrees; these allow the completion of general education
requirements to transfer to a four-year university program.
AAT (Associate Degree in Arts in Teaching)
AA (Associate of Arts)
AS (Associate of Science)

2. Career or Professional Degrees; intended for persons to enter the workforce,
upgrade professional status or transfer to a bachelor’s program.

AAS (Associate of Applied science)
AOS (Associate of Occupational Studies)
ABA (Associate Degree in Business Administration)

Some other names of Associate Degrees include

AF (Associate Degree of Forestry)
AT (Associate Degree Technology)
AE (Associate Degree in Engineering)
AET (Associate Degree in Engineering Technology)
AN (Associate Degree in Nursing)
AGS (Associate Degree of General Studies)
AIS (Associate of Individualized Study)
AGE (Associate in General Education)


An Associate Degree in the USA or Canada is equivalent to the first two years of a four year bachelor’s degree, to UK s foundation degree, France’s diploma d’etudes universitaires generales (DEUG), Hong Kong’s higher diploma and in Australia , it is similar to the USA.

Entry Requirements

Admission criteria vary for institutions and specific programs and therefore should be consulted on such when applying for a program.
However, generally is based on
-High school diploma/GED
-Good standing at previous school
-Previous Vocational Courses
-GPA-grade point average (usually 2.5-4.0)
-Military service
-Mature student (work experience )


The benefits of pursuing an associate Degree are
1. Start career path if do not have required qualification to enter four year
bachelor’s program for which you will then be ready for.
2. Smooth transition to a bachelor’s degree program.
3. Cheaper than a bachelor’s degree program yet can equip you to work.
4. Enable you to have professional job while completing your specific field of
5. Enter workforce at greater advantage to non-graduates in terms of knowledge
and earning power.