Associate’s vs. Bachelor’s

What is the difference between an associate’s and bachelor’s degree?

You’ve decided to go back to college because you know it will better your career opportunities.

But what degree program is the best option for you: an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree?

Associate’s Degree vs. Bachelor’s Degree Curriculum

Associate’s Degree in Applied Science
The associate’s degree curriculum will vary depending on your major and interests. If you are getting your associate’s degree in applied science (AAS), it will allow you to obtain entry-level employment directly out of college. Transfer degrees, such as the associate’s degree in science (AS) are designed for students who wish to transfer to a 4-year university to eventually complete a bachelor’s degree program.

Technical Associate’s Degrees
Career or technical associate’s degrees are career focused, meaning that most, if not all, of the classes are geared specifically toward the student’s chosen profession. Producing job-ready applicants is the main goal of these programs.

Transfer Associate’s Degrees
Transfer associate’s degrees are typically designed to take the place of your first two-years of a bachelor’s degree program. Courses will be in general education, liberal arts, and sciences; so when your credits transfer to a four-year college, you’re able to focus only on courses related to your major.

Costs of Associate’s Degree vs. Bachelor’s Degree

When choosing a college, some of the main concerns are the costs of the school and the program. Many people find associate’s degrees to be the more lucrative option in the short term because they cost less money and have a higher starting salary.

Although bachelor’s degree earners may make a lower starting salary, they receive more of a well-rounded education, providing them with the skills needed to get raises and increase their salaries with gained experience.

College Board reports that the average four-year public university costs more than twice the amount of a two-year public college. Private four-year colleges offering bachelor’s degrees take a huge hike in costs, averaging over $21,200 each year.

Associate’s vs. Bachelor’s Degree Careers

There are many careers that have a minimum education requirement of an associate’s degree. Even if your career requires a bachelor’s degree, you might want to consider earning your associate’s degree at a community college or trade school first, and then moving onto higher education to cut the costs.

If you know what career your want to pursue, research the level of education required for an entry-level position in that field. Sometimes, only an associate’s degree is required, but your chosen profession might require a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree.

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