Reviewed by Julie Vandekreke
Our students ask us all the time, “Can I get an associate degree online?” Yes, you sure can, and it’s easier than you might think. Here’s how you can earn a two-year degree online just by using your computer and setting your own schedule.
- First, choose a college that has an associate degree program that lines up with your career goals and dreams. Many students want an associate degree that can give them a lead-in to their bachelor’s degree, and that’s great. However, there are several associate degrees that are more specialized, especially toward the business, medical, criminal justice, and legal fields. Before you sign up, make sure you’re in the right program.
- Review the courses you’ll need to take to complete the program. A thorough review of the course progression can give you a good idea of where you challenges will lie and what courses will be easier for you. You can also identify how many elective hours you’ll need and start thinking about what you’d like to take that will compliment your career interests and goals.
- Apply for admission through the admissions office. This can often be the most intimidating step, but admission staff is literally there to help you navigate the process. Ask questions, form relationships and feel confident about how you’re starting your academic journey.
- Apply for student aid, using grants, federal loans and private financing. You’ll want to stay on top of your financial aid package, even after you start classes. The financial process never stops, and you want to be in-the-know every step of the way.
- Upon being accepted, decide which courses you’ll start with. You’ll have your course catalog and access to an academic advisor, so this isn’t something you have to do alone. You can take things one term at a time, and you should also develop a long-term plan that shows you what classes, in a perfect world, you should take to finish the degree.
- Only take as many classes as you have time for. If you’ve planned your courses, it can be easy to feel overwhelm in order to meet that goal. Being realistic about how much you can do given the classes you’re taking can ease the stress. Whether you have a family, a job, or both, don’t sacrifice the quality of your work along the way.
- Stay disciplined and finish your class assignments and homework. School requires the discipline to study and complete homework on time. Online degree programs can be more challenging in this way because you’re not in a physical classroom. Set boundaries and timelines for yourself and use these tips to help you succeed.
- Study for the exams and pass your courses. Exams are the culmination of the course’s experience and one way your professors will know what you’ve learned. If you’ve been diligent throughout the course, the exam should be a low-pressure situation, given what you already know and accomplished in your assignments.
What Are the Benefits of Earning an Online Associate Degree?
You can earn your degree online and enjoy these benefits along the way:
- Did you know that 98% of colleges and universities allow you to enroll with a GED? Many unexpected detours happen over the years, so it’s good to know there’s no excuse for not reaching your goal and moving toward the next.
- Save money by enrolling at a community college – classes are usually cheaper by design. Community colleges sometimes get a bad rap for no good reason. There’s nothing wrong with getting your education at a price you can afford. Many 4-year colleges have agreements with their local community colleges to accept students who graduate, making this a legit pathway to your Associate degree and beyond.
- Schedule your course work so it fits your work and home life. Granted, on-campus classes can be harder to navigate in his respect, so online classes can definitely adapt to your schedule in a way that makes them a good first choice. Make sure everyone in your family and work-life who can assist is on board as you start your classes to avoid any surprises.
- Save money on transportation costs since you’re not driving to a physical location. It almost goes without saying that you can save money on travel and fuel by taking online classes. Save the wear and tear on your car, save time and earn college credit? Sounds like a winning combination.
- Many associate degree programs allow you to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree. As noted above, these agreements can be beneficial, but your credits should be transferrable regardless with a grade of "C" or higher on all college-level course work.
- If you learn fast, you can earn your associate degree in less than two years. Depending on the program you choose, you could cut time off the completion of your degree by taking online classes. If this is appealing to you, look for self-paced courses that allow you to complete courses on your own personal timeline.
What Can I Do After I Earn My Online Associates Degree?
You’d be amazed at what you can with an associate degree. Once you’ve reached this goal, you can:
- Continue your studies at a four-year university to get a bachelor’s degree. This is the goal of many students who start by earning an Associate degree and gives a feeling of accomplishment before starting additional work.
- Start a career with your new associate degree in fields such as accounting, business administration, information technology and marketing. Contrary to popular belief, there are many career areas that require some college, but not a bachelor’s degree. This can be a way to get your start in a career or try a field you’re unsure of before making a bigger commitment.
- Start work with your associate degree and then work with your employer to have them pay to continue your education. Many employers will empower their valued employees to continue learning by providing tuition assistance.
- Fill gaps in your associate degree by taking classes at StraighterLine, like Nena LaScala, who had started a degree right out of high school and wanted to complete her work years later only to learn requirements had changed. “I was grateful I was admitted, but I had a lot of holes in my degree plan. Fortunately, my counselor -- knowing that I wanted to move as quickly as possible through my degree program -- provided me with some flexible options.”
- By taking steps toward an Associate degree, you can increase both your marketability and earning potential. It’s well-known that salaries rise as you gain more education. But so do opportunities. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCSE) says the employment rate is also higher for those with higher education levels.
Whether you’ve never started college or want to return and finish, you can earn an online college degree starting with an associate degree. You will finish faster and spend less money if you start with courses at StraighterLine or use StraighterLine to fill in general education course gaps in your past education. Explore StraighterLine’s unique partnerships today to complete your associate degree on your terms. Then, use your new degree to jumpstart a career or pave the way to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree and make your career dreams come true.
Enroll today in a StraighterLine college course. If you’re unsure, why not try one of our online lessons for free? See what our online courses and support look and feel like, then move forward with confidence toward earning your associate (or bachelor's) degree.