Associate Degree vs Bachelor Degree


Associate Degree vs Bachelor Degree

A bachelor’s degree can be seen as an extension of an associate’s degree.

The bachelor’s degree normally takes twice as long to complete and can open up more possible careers.  There are additional differences.  An associate’s degree can also lead to a specific career, whereas a bachelor’s degree may be more of a general studies course.

Associate’s Degree vs Bachelor DegreeDifferences Described

Associate’s Degree

  • 2 years
  • 20 classes
  • AAS (Associate of Applied Science), AA (Associate of Art), AS (Associate of Science) or AFA (Associate of Fine Arts)
  • Generally a 2 year preparation for a career or a transfer to a bachelor’s degree.

Bachelor’s Degree

  • 4 years
  • 120 hours
  • BA (Bachelor of Arts), BS (Bachelor of Science), BBA (Bachelor of Business Administration), B.Arch (Bachelor of Architecture), and BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts
  • generally provide a more advanced study in a particular area

How to make the decision – Associate Degree vs Bachelor Degree

  1. The biggest difference is the amount of time taken for each. Studying full-time for 2 years a student can gain an associate’s degree and 4 years full-time study will gain you a bachelor’s degree.

Part-time study will increase the amount of time needed to graduate.

Remember, credit from an associate’s degree can be transferred to a bachelor’s degree, decreasing the amount of time needed to graduate with your bachelor’s degree.

  1. Tuition costs for an associate’s degree will be less than that for a bachelor’s degree. The shorter time needed is the main reason for this, but in addition the schools that do offer associate’s degree are generally cheaper than those offering bachelor’s degrees.
  1. Levels of study and course work differ. An associate’s degree leads to two pathways. One pathway is preparation for a specific career, by studying a highly skilled vocational or technical program.  This includes areas such as nursing or culinary arts.

The second pathway is more general, which allows you to earn credits that can be transferred to a bachelor’s degree program and the associate’s degree at the same time.  If you choose this option, a major (that is a specific area of study) is not required.

When you transfer to a bachelor’s degree course, you mostly need to select a major and also complete a project.  In most cases the first two years are about general education and then you can select your major.  Following the completion of an associate’s degree, you can transfer directly to a bachelor’s degree, and select your major.  Bachelor programs also give you the opportunity to study additional elective studies, which become minors and can complement your major.

  1. An associate’s degree will help you get into your career quickly, particularly if you are interested in a technical or skilled labour industry. Some examples include dental assistant, nursing, beauty and health provider, computer programmer and many others.

One drawback could be that you will be competing for these jobs with others who have completed a bachelor’s degree.  In these cases many employers will select the applicant with the higher qualifications.

If you are interested in accounting, finance or business management, then you will probably need a bachelor’s degree, and that is often the very minimum required.  There is often more opportunities in these fields for promotion in your chosen career.  Some companies only want to employ candidates with a 4-year degree and are not too interested in the major, but having a major that relates to your career choice will give you an advantage.

If you want to continue onto graduate studies, a bachelor’s degree is essential.  All master’s and doctoral programs, require a bachelor’s degree.

  1. Future earnings and unemployment statistics show that those with a bachelor’s degree are more likely to earn more than those with an associate’s degree. They are also less likely to become unemployed in the future. The earnings gap between different degrees is also widening.  These figures come from US government agencies.

Popular Schools for Associate’s Degrees in the US

 Herzing University

  • Keiser University
  • American InterContinental University
  • Lincoln Tech
  • Brightwood College
  • Virginia College
  • Fortis College
  • Colorado Technical University

Hopefully this article Associate Degree vs Bachelor Degree helped you making the decision. You may also see Bachelor Degree vs Associate Degree for more comparisons.


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