An associate's degree is typically a two-year college degree that is offered by junior colleges, technical schools, community colleges, as well as other private and public learning institutions. More online schools make it possible for students to earn their associates online. Associate's degrees have a large impact on students looking to advance their careers, particularly those who are entering a trade profession, technology field, or healthcare. Nearly 40 percent of the American population over the age of 25 holds an associate's degree (Wikipedia). Some common abbreviations for associate's degrees include AS (Associate of Science), AA (Associate of Arts), and AAS (Associate of Applied Science).
With an Associate of Arts degree, the focus is mainly on humanities and social sciences. This type of degree is typically given to students who have not yet chosen a major of study, or those whose are pursuing a general studies degree. An Associate of Science degree is usually geared more towards students who are pursuing programs such as mathematics, sciences, and technology. The AAS version of an associate's is tailored more towards students who plan to enter the workforce immediately after earning their degree. Because of this, Associates of Applied Science (AAS) provides more hands-on learning experiences, as well as some intern and externships to give students real experience they can use to succeed in their work life.
Around the 1970s, more and more people began earning their associate's degrees. By the beginning of the 1980s, the number had significantly increased to about 25 percent. Many people view associate's degrees as "vocational degrees", since the scope of learning is much more focused versus other degrees where students must be well rounded and spend a minimum of four years in study.
Other commonly chosen fields for those with an associate's degree include nursing and paramedic degrees, paralegal, mechanical, data processing, public service, computer related fields, and natural sciences. If you decide to get your online associate's and are considering transferring to a four-year college, talk to you advisor about which classes will transfer so you will not have to retake them. The associate's degree program is an important part of the higher learning landscape.