How Long Does It Take To Earn An Associate Of Science Degree?
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How Long Does It Take To Earn An Associate Of Science Degree?

Key Takeaways

  • An associate degree typically requires around 60 college credit hours and takes 2-4 years to complete. Full-time students can usually finish in two years, taking about 15 credits per semester.[1]

  • The time to complete an associate degree can vary based on enrollment status (full-time or part-time), transfer credits, the pace of the program, and personal circumstances.

  • There are various types of associate degrees, such as Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), and Associate of Fine Arts (AFA).

  • Different types of associate degrees have varying credit hour requirements, typically ranging from 60 to 64 credit hours.

  • Online associate degree programs generally offer the same duration as on-campus programs but provide more flexibility, which can lead to faster completion for some students.

  • Associate degrees open doors to entry-level positions in diverse fields and lay the groundwork for further education, like pursuing a bachelor’s degree.[2]

Obtaining an associate degree involves understanding various elements that impact the duration and structure of the program.

This comprehensive guide provides in-depth insights into the associate degree process and valuable information for prospective students. 

How Long Does It Take to Get An Associate Degree?

A typical associate degree program requires completion of around 60 college credit hours of coursework and can take 2 – 4 years to complete.[1] Full-time students can typically complete an associate degree in two years by taking around 15 credits per semester. However, there are several factors that can affect the length of time it takes to earn an associate degree, including:

  • Your Enrollment Status: Part-time students typically take fewer credits per semester, so it may take them longer to complete their degree than full-time students.

  • Your Transfer Credits: If you have any transfer credits from previous coursework, you may be able to apply them toward your associate degree, which could shorten the time it takes to complete your program.

  • Your Program’s Pace: Some associate degree programs are designed to be completed in a shorter timeframe, such as 12 or 18 months. These accelerated programs typically require more rigorous coursework than traditional programs.

  • Your Personal Circumstances: If you have other commitments, such as a job or family responsibilities, it may take you longer to complete your degree.

In general, it is possible to earn an associate degree in as little as one year or as long as four years, depending on the abovementioned factors. However, the average time to complete an associate degree is two years.

Enrollment Status

Typical Time To Completion

Full-time

2 years

Part-time

3-4 years

Fast Fact

“Some associate degree programs offer accelerated options, enabling students to complete their degree in as little as 12 to 18 months. ”

What Is An Associate Degree?

An associate degree is an undergraduate academic degree that is typically earned after two years of full-time study at a community college, technical college, or junior college. Associate degrees are offered in a wide variety of fields, including:

  • Arts and humanities

  • Business

  • Science and technology

  • Health care

  • Education

Associate Degree Credit Hours

The Typical number of credit hours required for different types of associate degrees:

Type of Associate Degree

Typical Number of Credit Hours

Associate of Arts (AA)

60

Associate of Science (AS)

60

Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

62-64

Associate of Fine Arts (AFA)

60-64

In general, full-time students can expect to complete an associate degree in two years by taking around 15 credits per semester. Part-time students may take longer to complete their degree, depending on how many credits they take per semester.

Enrollment Status

Number Of Credits Taken Per Semester

Typical Time To Completion

Full-time

15

2 years

Full-time

12

2.5 years

Part-time

9

3.3 years

Part-time

6

4 years

How Long Does It Take To Earn An Online Associate Degree?

An online associate degree typically takes around two years to complete if you are a full-time student taking 15 credits per semester. However, the actual amount of time it takes can vary depending on several factors, including your enrollment status, your transfer credits, your program’s pace, and your personal circumstances.

  • Enrollment Status: Full-time students can typically complete an online associate degree in two years, while part-time students may take longer.

  • Transfer Credits: If you have any transfer credits from previous coursework, you may be able to apply them towards your online associate degree, which could shorten the time it takes to complete your program.

  • Program’s Pace: Some online associate degree programs are designed to be completed in a shorter timeframe, such as 12 or 18 months. These accelerated programs typically require more rigorous coursework and have more frequent deadlines than traditional programs.

  • Personal Circumstances: If you have other commitments, such as a job or family responsibilities, it may take you longer to complete your online associate degree.

Fast Fact

“Associate degrees cover a wide array of fields, from traditional areas like arts and humanities to more specialized fields such as healthcare technology and environmental science.”

Factors Affecting The Number Of Credit Hours

Here are some factors that can affect the number of credit hours required for an associate degree:

  • The Type Of Associate Degree: Some associate degrees, such as AAS degrees, may require more credit hours than others.

  • The Institution: The number of credit hours required for an associate degree may vary from one institution to another.

  • The Program: The number of credit hours required for a specific program may vary depending on the specific courses required.

  • Prior Coursework: If a student has any prior coursework, such as AP or CLEP credits, they may be able to apply those credits towards their associate degree, which could reduce the number of credit hours they need to take.

Frequently Asked Questions

We’ve answered some of the most common questions about how long it takes to earn an associate of science degree to help you better understand this.

Can I Transfer Credits from Other Institutions to an Associate Degree Program?

Yes, most associate degree programs accept transfer credits from other accredited institutions. This can significantly reduce the time needed to complete your degree, depending on the number of credits transferred.

Are There Different Types of Associate Degrees Available?

Absolutely! Associate degrees come in various forms like Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), Associate of Applied Science (AAS), and Associate of Fine Arts (AFA), each catering to different fields and career paths.

Is It Possible to Work While Pursuing an Associate Degree?

Yes, many students work while studying. Part-time enrollment options and online programs provide flexibility for those balancing education with work or family commitments.

How Do Online Associate Degree Programs Compare to On-Campus Programs in Terms of Duration?

Online and on-campus associate degree programs typically have similar duration, but online programs offer more flexibility, potentially allowing for a quicker completion depending on the student’s pace.

What Kind of Career Opportunities Can I Expect with an Associate Degree?

Associate degrees open doors to various entry-level positions in fields like healthcare, technology, business, and arts. They also lay the groundwork for further education if you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree.[2]

How Can I Determine the Right Associate Degree Program for Me?

Consider factors like your career goals, the field of study, program accreditation, the flexibility of schedules, and the balance with personal commitments when choosing the right program.

Earning An Associate Degree 

Earning an associate degree is a journey tailored to each individual’s academic and personal circumstances. Whether through traditional on-campus classes, online learning, part-time, or full-time study, the path to an associate degree is versatile and accommodating. With careful planning and consideration of the key factors outlined in this guide, you can make an informed decision about your educational future. Remember, an associate degree not only provides a solid foundation for your career but also opens up opportunities for further education and professional growth. Start your journey today and pave the way to a brighter future.

Our detailed guide discusses the best colleges that offer an online Associate Degree in Psychology. Learn more by visiting Go Degree and exploring our comprehensive resources.