If you have decided to pursue your education online, you could choose to do either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree. Each option has its advantages, and there are a few factors to consider to choose the right one for you. An associate degree offers you an option that is usually quicker and more affordable; typically completing a program in under two years is common. A bachelor’s degree typically takes at least four years and involves more in-depth study, plus many general education courses such as math, science, and language. Some people also choose to start with an associate, and then later complete the remaining courses by transferring their college credits toward a bachelor’s degree.
How Long Do They Take?
An associate degree usually takes around two years to complete. However, at many colleges, especially online schools, they are often flexible and allow you to finish at your own pace. During your studies, you will take mostly courses related to your concentration or degree, with a few general electives such as college math, government, English or science. In contrast, a bachelor’s degree is normally a four-year program when you go full-time and includes many general courses in math, languages, science and humanities. Both degree types could take longer to complete if you wanted or needed to spend more time on them, especially if you attend part time. Some schools, especially online colleges, enable you to complete the program on an accelerated schedule, so you can graduate even sooner. For example, many of the online associate degree programs offered at the Institute of Medical and Business Careers can typically be completed in about a year-and-a-half, if you opt for no breaks between courses.
What Will You Pay?
Cost is clearly an important factor for many people who are considering an online degree. Due to the shorter amount of time and reduced number of courses in an associate degree, you can expect it to be a lot more affordable than a bachelor’s degree. Keep in mind that you can still apply for financial aid, for those who qualify, typically from accredited colleges. For some online degrees, and you might have access to scholarships and other helpful financial resources. It’s also important to remember that you will save money by completing your degree online as you will not have to commute or live at a campus. Attending college online can also enable you to work full-time while you are earning your degree.
How Much Will You Learn?
An associate degree is usually about half the length and credits of a bachelor’s degree. This means that you’ll cover less material, naturally. However, an associate degree is typically designed to cover your core concentration with a fair amount of depth, aimed at preparing you in your field with a mastery of the basics. A bachelor’s degree takes your studies even further, with the expectation that you will gain a more advanced understanding of your degree material.
Converting an Associate Degree to a Bachelor’s
It’s also possible to continue studying after an associate degree and turn it into a bachelor’s degree. If you’re not yet sure which one is right for you, starting with an associate degree could be a great idea. If you decide that you want to continue your studies, you can transfer to a bachelor’s program when you’ve finished your associate degree. Your credits can count toward your degree, so you only need to do another two years or thereabouts. However, not all credits (if any) earned at one school can be applied to a program at another. Therefore, it is very important that you check with your current school and your future school to ensure they have an articulation agreement allowing for the transfer of your credits. Some schools offer you the opportunity to complete your associate and bachelor’s, so transferring is less of a concern.
Both associate and bachelor’s degree can help you to further your career. Decide which one is right for you by considering your long-term goals.