What are the Advantages of Earning My Associate’s Degree Online?

More community colleges than ever are letting students realize the advantages of earning an associate’s degree online. Associate’s degree programs take two years full-time, or 60 semester hours, for online students to develop career-specific knowledge upon a general education core. Many associate’s degrees are focused in skilled trades like dental hygiene, construction, air traffic control, and web development, but others align with traditional bachelor’s majors for transfer. Adding an associate’s degree to your résumé following a high school diploma can boost your bottom line. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, associate’s degree holders have a median weekly salary of $768 compared to $638 for non-college workers. High-paying associate’s jobs, such as radiation therapy and funeral service administration, have mean wages above $65,000. Here are the top four reasons why you should consider getting your associate’s online.

Flexible Scheduling for Work-School Balance

Virtual classroom platforms like Moodle, Canvas, and Blackboard allow associate students to log into course content asynchronously 24/7 without commuting to community colleges. Since there won’t be established meeting times, online learners can be early birds or night owls completing associate courses on their time. Students can hold down their full-time jobs or parental responsibilities while furthering their knowledge online. Associate’s degrees online will typically require six weekly hours of attention per credit taken but from the comfort and convenience of home.

Significant College Tuition Savings

Attending online community colleges is one of the cheapest methods for students to dip into post-secondary schooling. Online learners forgo the costs of room and board, transportation, parking permits, and perhaps childcare. That definitely outweighs the $10 – $100 per credit distance learning fee most colleges charge. According to College Board, the average tuition at public, two-year colleges for in-district students is $3,440 per year. Online associate’s degree students can also work more freely and keep incoming paychecks steady.

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Cheapest Online Colleges for Associate’s Degrees

Accelerated Courses for Faster Career Starts

Not only do associate’s degrees take just 24 months, but online schools frequently offer accelerated tracks for entering the skilled workforce even sooner. It’s not uncommon for online associate’s degrees to shorten the traditional 16-week semester into eight- or 10-week sessions for speed. For example, Fremont College in California offers five ACCSC-accredited online associate’s degrees from health information technology to digital marketing in 15 months. Graduates quickly start their careers with a lower unemployment risk of 4.8 percent compared to the non-college rate of 5.7 percent.

Stepping Stone into Online Bachelor’s Degrees

Online associate’s degrees are sufficient for many entry-level careers in fast-growing fields, especially nursing, web design, and telecommunications. However, another advantage of earning an associate’s degree online is transferability. Accredited online colleges allow associate-level credits to transfer seamlessly into baccalaureate programs. You’ll likely get 60+ credits to count toward your bachelor’s, which will increase your opportunity for career advancement and earnings. The Community College Research Center found that associate grads are 49 percent more likely to finish a B.A./B.S. in four years.

Picking the right online associate’s degree may be the toughest part. Make certain you find online colleges that are accredited for quality, meet credit transfer standards, align to your educational goals, have full-time faculty, and provide student support. Telling the good from the bad will help you steer clear of diploma mills and maximize the advantages of earning an associate’s degree online.