If you are planning to earn a college degree but cannot make a four-year commitment, an online associate’s degree is an excellent alternative. This two-year degree is much like the first two years of a online bachelor’s degree, but allows you to graduate with a college credential in a shorter period of time.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics and Unites States Census Bureau have reported some exciting news for students considering an online associate’s degree. The medium weekly salary for associate’s degree graduates increases almost 18% over individuals with just a high school diploma.
Additionally, individuals who have earned an associate’s degree are nearly 50% less likely to be unemployed than a high school graduate who has not gone on to receive a college degree.
Online AA Degree vs. Online AAS Degree
The two most common online associate’s degrees are the Associate of Arts (AA) and the Associate of Applied Science (AAS), with others such as the Associate of Business Administration (ABA) and the Associate of General Studies (AGS).
Students who have earned an online AA degree have typically selected an arts or humanities related major in areas such as English, design, theater, history, and sociology. Graduates who have received an online AAS degree have chosen a science focus, such as biology, nursing, engineering or information technology. Likewise, ABA holders have graduated with a business major, and AGS holders have received a broad degree in general studies.
Growth of Online Associate’s Degrees
Usually, an online associate‘s degree takes two years to complete. However, if students are choosing to attend class part-time, it can take longer to earn the 60- 64 credits typically required. Programs for online associate’s degrees generally provide flexible scheduling, where coursework can be completed at the students’ own speed.
The growth of online college classes for students wishing to receive an associate’s degree has been extremely rapid—fueled, in part, because so many people who want a college degree work, have families or lack the funds to take off four years to go to a traditional college.
From her observations about enrollment at Rio Salado College, Carol Scarafiotti, an executive consultant of online learning and VP Emeritus, has inferred that online associate’s programs are catching on. Rio Salado College had about 6,000 students in their online courses in 1996. By the spring of 2005, 24,000 students were enrolled.
Cynthia Maxson on the English faculty at Rio Salado states, “This is how I teach English composition 101 online: We make our courses meaty, in terms of content, and draw students into a particular topic they can explore and think about critically. We encourage students to choose a track they can write about throughout the course, such as the effects of mining in their communities, genetic engineering or racism. The students must do their research and dig deeply into a subject. The subject matter they choose is really important. We try to get them involved in something meaningful and they are responding well.”
Advantages of Online Associate’s Programs
If you are already in the workforce, online associate’s programs are a convenient way to earn your degree. Online degrees from accredited colleges offer flexibility, both in the subjects that are available, as well as the times that you attend class. Most online associate’s degrees can be earned part-time, making it easier to keep your job while you learn. Despite the negative rumors about online learning, it has begun to become a popular and respected format for those pursing higher education.
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