Best Online Associate Degree Guide

Lyss Welding
Lyss Welding
October 13, 2021 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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According to theNational Center for Education Statistics在美国,2019年有超过700万名学生参加了在线学位课程。自那时以来,疫情打乱了教育,导致更多的人采用在线学习。

This new landscape for education has some benefits for adults interested in pursuing degrees. Today, more people can complete degrees from anywhere. And shorter degree options, such as associate degrees, can help students avoid debt while joining a rapidly shifting workforce faster.

If you're one of the millions of people interested in earning an associate degree online, you'll need to know some basics. Read on to find out what makes the best associate degree programs.

What is an Associate Degree?


Unlike certificates, diplomas, or othervocational and technical credentials在美国,副学士学位被教育界和雇主视为高等教育学位。通常,你在副学士学位课程中获得的学分会转到学士学位课程中。

But not all associate degree programs are equivalent. Here's an overview of the different types:

Associate of arts degrees have three defining traits:

  1. 他们让学生接受通识教育,这是一门全面的核心课程,包括心理学、数学、科学、英语和更多科目的介绍。
  2. 它们包括几门侧重于人文学科的课程:语言、艺术、哲学、历史和文学。
  3. They can be a precursor to a bachelor's degree in the humanities.

Completing your associate of arts degree can shave time off getting your bachelor's degree since some of your courses will transfer. You also might be able to save money by starting your postsecondary education in an associate program at a local community college.

Like the associate of arts degree, an associate of science helps students gain general education credits and some more specific coursework to transfer into a bachelor's program. The difference is that an associate of science degree focuses on mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, and social sciences rather than the arts.

The one word "applied" makes a big difference in degree types. Associate of applied science (AAS) degrees typically guide students through a curriculum specifically designed with a career in mind.

Take these degrees as examples:

These degrees still include general education requirements, but as you can see, they are more specific. They're meant to enable you to start working right after completing your two-year degree.

Why Get an Associate Degree Online?


Learn From Anywhere

If you pursue your associate degree online or partially online, you complete your courses via an internet connection from your home or anywhere else.

Learn on Your Schedule

Some discussion-based programs will be on a schedule, while others may be self-paced.

When it comes to exams, different programs and instructors will use varying protocols. Typically, it will look something like one of the following:

  • 老师将通过视频会议平台在考试期间监控你和你的同学。
  • A software program will track your computer activity during the exam.
  • You might go in-person to the school or a local testing center.
Online Degrees Can Cost Less

Do online degree programs cost less than in-person degrees? That depends on your school and program. But often, online learners can avoid certain significant costs. Consider the following:

  • Online degree programs help you avoid paying extra for transportation, room, and board.根据美国大学理事会的《2020年大学定价和学生援助趋势报告》,两年制公立大学学区学生的平均学费为每年3700美元。加上食宿费,这个数字会飙升到每年12850美元。这意味着食宿费用比学位本身还要昂贵。
  • Cost per credit hour could be lower.从你的项目中找出在线学习者的每学分费用是否不同。For example, Illinois’ Elgin Community College statesdifferent credit costs for out-of-state online learners— their credits are more than $30 cheaper than the cost for in-person out-of-state learners.
  • 在线学习的费用各不相同。When you’re looking at online associate degree programs, you might discover an additional fee for distance learning — for example, $20 for every online credit hour. This can be considered a technology fee to cover the costs of videoconferencing software or other requirements for the program. It’s similar to paying a lab fee for an in-person class, which can be $100-$200 per credit hour.
You Can Use Your Associate Degree Credits Toward a Bachelor's

An associate of arts, science, or general studies enables you to complete the general education requirements that you would complete in your first year or two of a bachelor's degree — and it might be cheaper. Plus, an online associate degree allows you the flexibility to start your higher education from home.

How to Earn Your Associate Degree Online

Step 1
Get a High School Diploma or Equivalent


Step 2
Determine Your Education Budget

Knowing what you can afford will help you narrow down programs. Your budget will also help you ask informed questions to college admissions counselors regarding tuition, payment schedules, and scholarships.

We recommend usingLantern's affordability calculatorto get started. It will ask you to think about your current income, cost of living, and savings to determine what you can spend on education.

Step 3
Apply for Financial Aid (Complete the FAFSA)

Whether or not you're applying to any scholarships, you should complete theFree Application for Federal Student Aid申请学校的前一年。这个申请会告诉大学你是否有资格获得经济援助来帮助支付你的教育。它也可能使你有资格从政府贷款,比私人贷款利率更低,宽限期更长。

Step 4
Collect Your List of Questions — and Get Help


Collect all of your questions to present them in an organized manner in an email or during a conversation.

Your questions might include:

  • Can I enroll as a full-time or part-time student? When do I need to decide?
  • 如果我没有特定的标准化考试成绩怎么办,比如SAT或ACT?
  • Will I need to attend any in-person classes or events?
Step 5
Gather Your Application Materials

Visit the website of the college of your choice and build a checklist for everything you need to submit your application on time.

Most colleges require:

  • An online application with your information
  • A personal statement or short essay answering why you chose the program
  • Proof of your high school diploma or GED

Some colleges require:

  • Scores from the SAT or ACT
  • Your high school GPA
  • An application fee (less than $50)
  • Letters of recommendation that can replace or supplement test scores or a low GPA


Step 6
Apply to Programs

Once you gather all the necessary information, you're ready to apply online. Apply early to avoid any last-minute technical difficulties.


Step 7
Decide How Many Classes to Take Per Semester


Step 8
Work Toward Your Degree

Once you're accepted into an online associate degree program, all that's left to do is the work. Choose your classes, gather the equipment you'll need, and start studying and participating in your courses.

Step 9
Continue Learning to Advance Your Degree

Today, you can complete all sorts of degrees online. We compiled guides foronline bachelor's degree programs,online master's degree programs, and evendoctorate programs online,这样你就可以继续学习。

Financial Aid and Scholarships for Online Associate Degrees

You can reduce the cost of your online associate degree through scholarship opportunities available for two-year students. Here are a few examples:

Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship

The American Association for Women in Community Colleges (AAWCC) National Board Scholarship Associate's Degree Scholarship

University of the Aftermarket Foundation Scholarship

What Jobs Can You Get With an Online Associate Degree?

If you love distance education, you might considergetting a remote jobsuch as virtual office administration or technical support. Try looking in thesetop cities for remote workers.

In addition, earning your associate degree online can set you up for a number ofcareers that only require a two-year degree.

Some of the top-paying fields for associate degree jobs include:

Lyss Welding
Lyss Welding
Contributing Writer

Lyss Welding is a staff writer who covers career and education topics for Become with Lantern. Since graduating from the University of Chicago with a bachelor's degree in linguistics, Lyss has worked in 21st century skills programs and for companies writing curriculum and training resources for students and job seekers. Her writing has also appeared on Best Value Schools and Grad School Hub.

Latest Posts is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.