Associate Degree & Online Degree Guide

TBS Staff Writers
Updated February 26, 2024
Discover the best associate degrees in education available online, along with how this degree can prepare you for entry-level careers in

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Considering an associate degree? Educate yourself on popular majors and career expectations using these guides, rankings, and resources.

An associate degree can lead to dynamic job opportunities. These resources from TheBestSchools can help you navigate your education by providing insight on online colleges and programs, career projections, cost/benefit considerations, and available majors.

We also answer questions like how COVID-19 is affecting online learners and why a community college education might benefit you.

Deciding to Pursue an Online Associate Degree

If you are considering an associate degree, outside resources may offer guidance. For example, you can use rankings and online guides to clarify your questions around school choice or degree level.

The links below can help you pick the right college and online program. They can also direct you to ranked community colleges and popular online schools.

Featured Online Associate Degrees

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Choosing Your Major

Your major influences your career path, salary expectations, and future education plans. So be sure to do your research into majors for associate degrees.

The following links provide information on lucrative jobs for associate graduates, popular associate majors, and how to choose the right major for you. Associate degrees offer many majors, but our online guides can help you narrow down your top choices.

Accounting Associate Degrees

An associate degree can lead to entry-level accounting careers like accounting assistant, clerk, or bookkeeper. An associate in accounting can also help you earn credit toward a bachelor’s in accounting or another accounting degree. With a bachelor’s in accounting, you can work toward becoming a certified public accountant.

Art and Design Associate Degrees

The field of art and design offers creative careers for associate degree graduates. While you can become a graphic designer or web designer through work experience alone, an associate in art and design builds your credentials and lays the groundwork for career advancement.

From there, you can earn a bachelor’s in art and design or strengthen your resume with additional certifications.

Business Management and Administration Associate Degrees

Associate degrees can help people looking for entry-level work in business management and administration. Earning an associate in business administration or a management associate degree qualifies you for low-level manager or administrative assistant positions.

You can also pursue specialty roles. For example, an associate in healthcare management can qualify you for work in healthcare. Associate degrees in marketing qualify you to work as a sales manager, and an online entrepreneurship associate prepares you to start your own business.

Computer Science and Information Technology Associate Degrees

Computer science and information technology associate degrees can secure you entry-level positions in technology companies. For example, an associate in computer science qualifies you to work as a computer support specialist, web developer, or programmer.

An associate in information technology can help you get a job as a computer support specialist or a network administrator. Associate degrees in network security prepare you for IT work.

There are many kinds of criminal justice and legal studies degrees at the two-year level, and many criminal justice and legal studies professionals hold associate degrees. For example, you only need an associate in criminal justice to work as a bailiff, correctional officer, or victim advocate.

Likewise, you only need an associate in legal studies to become a legal assistant, and many paralegals also hold degrees from paralegal programs.

Education Associate Degrees

If you want to teach, you can start with an associate degree. Many schools offer online associate degrees in early childhood education, qualifying graduates to work as preschool teachers.

An online associate in elementary education can lead to work as a substitute teacher or early childhood educator. Finally, an online associate in education can prepare you to pursue an education bachelor’s or a paraeducator job.

Medical, Dental, and Nursing Associate Degrees

Many healthcare-related jobs require advanced degrees, but you can also pursue specialized jobs in the medical, dental, and nursing fields with an associate. Many associate-level healthcare jobs focus on administration, management, and IT. For example, specialized healthcare associate degrees that can lead to entry-level work in medical office administration, medical assisting, healthcare administration, medical billing and coding, and health information technology.

In addition, you only need an online certificate in dental assisting to work as a dental assistant. A pre-nursing program can help you become an LPN, while an associate qualifies you for RN licensure in most states.

Psychology, Human Services, and Social Work Associate Degrees

The psychology, human services, and social work fields all employ associate degree-holders. An associate in social work qualifies you for work as a general caseworker or to enroll in a social work bachelor’s.

Similarly, an online human services associate or psychology associate qualifies you to work as a social services assistant, research assistant, or youth counselor. Psychology associate graduates often go on to earn a graduate degree in psychology.

Theology and Religious Studies Associate Degrees

It is common for aspiring religious leaders to earn associate degrees in theology and religious studies. An online associate in theology or religious studies can lead you to both secular and religious careers in education and human services. More advanced degrees in theology prepare you for specific secular and religious roles.

Associate Degrees for Career Paths in the Trades

To work a trade, you often only need a certificate from a trade school and professional experience. However, an associate degree can increase your chances for career advancement. Many skilled trade careers, like construction work, welding, and plumbing, pay well.

Some trade careers require a college degree. For example, an online associate in homeland security qualifies you for specialized law enforcement jobs. It’s important to weigh the value of trade school vs. college, depending on your career needs.

Pursuing an Online Associate Degree

While pursuing an associate degree, you may wonder what online colleges are like or what to look for in an online college. There are many advantages to online learning, but it helps to be prepared. You can use our online learning checklist to get started.

The links below also cover online college basics, helping you find the right tools for success in an online classroom. You can also learn about asynchronous and synchronous online learning and the advantages of community colleges vs. for-profit schools.

Paying for Your Associate Degree

Paying for online college can be difficult, and nobody wants to be in debt from student loans after graduation. Our financial aid and scholarship resources can help you find financial support for your associate degree — or for your online bachelor’s, if you continue your studies.

The following links cover essential financial aid topics for college students, including online college scholarships, college finance management, and affordable online bachelor’s degrees.

Getting a Head Start on Your Degree

If you are in high school and planning to pursue an associate degree, you can get a head start with dual enrollment and early college credit programs. Our online guides explore how high schoolers can earn college credit in high school.

You can also learn how to leverage your senior year and transfer credit to online college.

Recent Publications for Prospective Associate Degree Students

There are always new developments for prospective associate degree students. You can learn about them through magazine articles, blog posts, and scientific studies on contemporary issues, such as distance education in the age of COVID.

Here are a few of our news resources relevant to associate degree-seekers.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pursuing an Associate Degree

Can You Earn an Associate Degree Online?

Yes. Many community colleges and four-year universities and colleges offer fully online and hybrid associate degrees. These programs typically take 60 credits and two years to earn.

Are Online Associate Degrees Worth It?

An online associate degree from a regionally accredited school is worth just as much as a traditional associate degree. However, you should avoid associate programs from for-profit or unaccredited institutions.

What Are the Best Two-Year Degrees to Get?

An associate of science or associate of arts are the most transferable to a bachelor’s program, while an associate of applied arts is often the fastest way to an entry-level trade career. Which option is best depends on your career and education goals.

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