Associate Degree Programs

by Nancy

Choosing the best associate degree program for you is one of the most important decisions to make regarding your education. What is your primary choice of career? What associate degree program and what schools give you the best chance of success?  Selecting an associate degree program is a big step for your future. Read on for tips on selecting the best associate degree program for you today.


There are other important choices to make between online and traditional in-class schooling, especially in current times. It is also important to choose an accredited and not merely an accepted associate degree program. What does it mean to be accredited and why is it important?

There are so many options for associate degree programs in today’s world it is perhaps challenging to know which is best. There are ways to determine if your degree program of choice is accredited and the best options for your needs. Read ahead for tips on how to research the best associate degree programs and select the best degree for you today.

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How Do I Select an Associate Degree Program?

Selecting the best associate degree program for you is one of the most important decisions to make for your higher education and future career. How do you select the best program and school for you? Your degree-selection experience is a tiered process with multiple steps. The primary, most integral part involves understanding your projected career path before making any other decisions. 7 hot tips for selecting the best associate degree program for you are:

  1. Choose your preferred career path.
  2. Research the education requirements needed to achieve your career goals.
  3. Research schools offering associate degree programs suitable for your needs.
  4. Determine if your school of choice offers accredited degrees.
  5. Research the cost of tuition, books and total expenses.
  6. Assess your budget and financial risks vs. rewards.
  7. Apply for financial aid and admission to your school of choice.

1. Choosing Your Career Path

Choosing your career path is essential prior to applying for associate degree programs. The most important factor to consider is your desire for one career field or another. For example, is it your desire to become a nurse? Are you good with numbers and wish to become an accountant or financial adviser? Do you have a passion for helping people and want to become a counselor? Choosing your career also involves assessing potential salaries and growth rates for your future job. For example, nurses are currently in high demand. A degree in nursing offers potential job security and higher salaries. It is also important to have a backup career choice. Earning a degree takes time and is often expensive. Financial aid is available but having a backup career choice gives you options if your primary degree choice is not obtainable due to various possible circumstances.

2. Researching Education Requirements for Your Career

There are many careers obtainable with an associate degree-level of education. Associate degree programs most commonly take two years to complete. Many higher paying vocations also require Bachelor’s degrees, which are one step beyond an associate degree program. Knowing what level of education is required for your career helps you choose an associate degree program in line with your goals and also best-suited for advancement into a potential Bachelor’s degree program.

3. How to Find Schools & Associate Degree Programs

Online search engines are the best first-steps for finding schools with online and on campus associate degree programs. Google, Bing and Yahoo are three credible and easily accessible modern search engines. It is also possible to use Yelp to get perspectives on how former students feel about their previous experiences at your school(s) of choice. Relevant criteria to enter into the search fields includes:

  • Associate degree programs.
  • Your career choice or desired field of study.
  • Online or on-campus options.
  • The state or states where you are willing to relocate.
  • Accredited.

4. Accepted vs. Accredited Schools

Different U.S. states accept schools and approve them operating as businesses inside state borders. Accredited schools offer degree programs widely respected by potential employers. Simply put, an accredited degree improves your probability of being hired. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation determines a school’s accredited status. You are able to research the status of your school(s) of choice via information provided on the Accredited Online Schools website.

5. Assess Your Tuition & Total School-Related Expenses

It is important to assess the cost of tuition for your associate degree program. Other expenses for books, room/board and miscellaneous costs apply as well. Knowing how much your education will cost you in totality is a necessary part of selecting an associate degree program.

6. Make a Budget and Compare Risks vs. Rewards

Once you know the total costs of your education it is important to make a budget. How will you afford the costs? Are you eligible for financial aid? Next, research potential salaries and job placement for your career choice. Will you make enough money to justify the cost of your degree program? How long will it take to pay back student loans if applicable? This tier of the degree selection process might not be fun but it is important and necessary.

7. Applying for Financial Aid & Admission

Applying for financial aid is done using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Federal Pell Grants and other scholarships are also potentially available. Applying for admission involves communicating with a school adviser and admissions officer from your school of choice. The process is different for each school.

The Affects of COVID-19 on Traditional In-Class Degree Programs

Online and traditional in class associate degree programs offer almost the entirely same curriculum choices and quality of education. Expenses are also similar although online classes eliminate the need for room/board. Online classes increased in popularity before 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many schools to convert entirely to online degree programs, however. Deciding between the two options might be dependent on virus-related restrictions for the foreseeable future. Consult with your school of choice to determine whether traditional in class degree programs are available and, if so, what safety requirements are involved.