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One of the most common methods for obtaining an associates degree in this day and age is through the online educational setting. Online associates degree programs can provide students with the option of completing their courses via a convenient online platform, which allows for virtual communication, submission of homework online, and even non-proctored test taking.
Overview of the Online Associate Degree
Online associates degrees typically consist of around 60 credit hours, which can be completed in 2 years or less for full-time students. Completion of the online associates degree can lead you into entry-level careers or even potentially prepare you for future learning in higher degree programs.
The associates program is comparable to the first 2 years of a bachelors program, so your investment in this degree could benefit you if you plan to move forward to a bachelors program at some point in your future. If you would like to learn more about these incredible online programs, read more in our educational team's guide below.
Associates Degrees in the Online Environment
Over the last 10 years, the field of education has been influenced tremendously by technology and the internet. People have found innovative methods for achieving higher education, making degree acquisition much easier than ever before. At the associates level, students can location and enroll in degree programs to help promote success in their futures.
The constituents of online degree programs mimic what can be found in traditional programs, without the in-person requirement that students may have to work around. Online associates degrees can be attended from the comfort of your very own home. Most programs require that students log in to the course room at least 1 or 2 times per week and complete assignments before pre-determined due dates. Most courses online provide students with an outline of expectations and due dates so that students can plan their schedules accordingly.
Popular aspects of online associates programs are the discussion and email tools, which make communication with instructors and other students easier than ever before. While some students still prefer an on-campus experience for their degree, others may find it necessary to take advantage of the convenience allowed by online educational programs. Full-time workers and those busy with a full family life may find that online associates programs can be the best for their schedule, since the flexibility of these programs cannot be found in the traditional environment. Take a look at a more in-depth comparison of traditional and online programs below.
Online Vs. Campus-Based Associates Programs
Logging In Vs. Attending
One of the most profound differences between campus and online programs is the attendance requirement. Most courses in on-campus associates programs require that students attend class in-person 1-3 times per week. While there are sometimes day and night classes available, this can still take a strain on busy professionals trying to balance work, family, and a full schedule. Online courses in the associates program typically require students to log in at least once a week – at times that are convenient for the student.
In the online setting, students may find that they can navigate through their course outline, review the syllabus, and schedule due dates from their first day. This advance knowledge can make it easier for students to plan their work, which is one attractive perk of online education. In the traditional environment, students may receive the syllabus on their first day of class, but receive assignments as they progress through the course.
Due Dates/Assignment Submission
While some traditional programs have implemented some online features to their courses, there are still a large number of programs that rely on paper and pencil assignments in the classroom. In the online setting, nearly everything you do can be submitted via the online system. Papers, discussions, and exams are all done via the online classroom, which can be helpful when keeping up with multiple courses and assignments during your experience.
One of the greatest concerns of students considering online associates programs is the quality. Traditional on-campus programs have long been the standard for professionals interested in becoming licensed in their future. In recent years, accreditation agencies have started to review and accredit online programs in the same manner that traditional programs are graded. Associates programs that have receive accreditation can be an equally reliable resource as on-campus programs providing the same major.
Applying to an Online Program
If this is your first experience with online degree programs, it might be helpful to learn more about what to expect during the initial application process. Universities can have different application requirements depending on the type of program you are enrolling in and the number of applicants the program receives.
The school that you are applying to may consist of all of the following elements, or only a few. Your collegiate application is a representation of your self and your academic accomplishments up until this point, so it is important to document all information accurately and honestly.
Check out some of the common elements of the online associates degree application below.
Most online schools have a link to an online application for new learners. This step may require you to create an account, providing personal identifying information, and list any previous schools or work experience you have related to your degree program.
Before officially submitting your application for enrollment, some schools may require you to submit tests scores from the ACT or SAT as part of your application process. Some universities may also require that you submit a statement regarding your professional intentions or an essay on a specific topic.
Letters of Reference:
Schools with higher enrollment rates may resort to extra methods of determining who is accepted into their program. One of the common methods for extending the application process is through the letters of reference requirement. These can come from former teachers or even potentially employers that can provide a recommendation for your acceptance into the program.
Official Transcripts: Official transcripts can provide your institution with better insight into how you perform academically. If you are applying to an online associates degree program, you should be prepared to have official transcripts sent directly from your high school, as well as any colleges that you may have attended previously.
Timeline to Graduation
As you delve into the realm of online education, you should consider what type of timeline to expect in your program. A lot of different factors can come into play when determining how quick you can be graduated and looking for a career in the field. One of these factors is the amount of time you have to spend working on your education. Some online associates programs allow you to enroll at a full-time or part-time status, which can greatly influence the length of time it takes you to graduate.
Students enrolled full-time in an online associates program with a 60 credit hour requirement may have the ability to graduate from their program within 12-15 months if classes are attended year-round. Students that wish to take the summer off from their program can finish an online associates program in around 2 years – which is the average length of time it takes to complete this level of degree. Hard-working adults that are already dedicated to a full-time work schedule can choose to pursue their degree at a part-time rate.
The number of credit hours you take while in a part-time program can vary, with some programs providing students with 6-9 credit hours per semester. Depending on how many or how few classes you take each semester, the length of time it takes you to graduate can be extended significantly. If you were to enroll at half-time status, it could take up to 4 years to complete your program.
Cost Considerations for Online Associates Degrees
The costs of online education should be a factor that all students consider when searching for the right university and program. While tuition is one of the most prominent costs associated with obtaining your degree online, there are other costs that you should factor in to your overall expenses. In the list below, you can read about some of the most common costs associated with enrollment in an online associates degree program. Take a look at what you can expect.
- Application/Technology/Student Access Fees: One of the first fees that you could possibly see when enrolling in an online associates degree program is the application fee. This fee can vary depending on where you apply, with some schools actually waiving the fee for qualifying prospects. Before enrolling in classes, you should be sure to locate fees associated with technology, student access, and even student insurance.
- Tuition: Tuition rates may be one of the most variable costs for your online degree program. Some universities charge by the semester, while others charge per credit hour. Be sure to weigh the total costs of each school in order to be aware of your total bill.
- Books: In the online environment, it is possible that you will still be required to purchase books outside of the virtual environment. College textbooks can sometimes come with a heavy price tag, so get your quotes prior to enrollment.
In order to give you a better idea of what types of rates to expect when searching for your program, our team has pulled together a few schools in order to showcase the differences in tuition that can be present in different locations. Once you have located a school that you may want to enroll in, you should review the tuition and fees charged by the school in order to get a solid grasp on the total charges you can expect to incur throughout your program. Check out some common tuition rates below.
- Ashworth College: Online Associates Degree – $899 per semester with full-pay option, $1299 per semester with monthly payment plan
- Southern New Hampshire University: Online Associates Degree – $320 per credit hour or $960 per course
Now that you have a better grasp on what the online associates degree program could cost you, you should take the time to review your options in terms of funding your education. Most college students find it beneficial to file an annual FAFSA each year to determine whether or not they qualify for federal student aid.
These different types of financial resources can come in the forms of grants – which do not have to be repaid, loans – which can be deferred until after you graduate, and work-study programs – which can exchange funding for on-campus job assignments. There are requirements associated with receiving each type of aid, some of which may be fitting for your current financial or independent status.
Another alternative for funding your education is scholarships. Scholarships can be found through private organizations interested in supporting higher education, at universities interested in supporting incoming students, or even through state agencies willing to lend a hand to college students on the path to success. These types of funding can be found for students with high academic honors, students that have shown courage or strength within their communities, or even for students with exceptional athletic or artistic talent.
Things to Remember
It took a long time for online degree programs to prove their worth in today’s society. Since a lot of people are now using the internet and other technologies to perform everyday functions and even when learning new things, more people may be looking for online programs to help promote success within their own lives. Before you make the transition into online educational programs, you should consider some of the components of these programs and how they can benefit you along the way.
The online environment can be a great place to take advantage of flexibility and convenience in learning. However, the lack of physical presence can sometimes allow for procrastination and even stagnation in some students. Before you ever make the decision to enroll in these fascinating and advanced programs, you should consider if you have the determination and readiness needed to be successful in the online environment.
Once you have determined that you have the self-control and motivation to complete an online program, you should take your time choosing the right school. While there are a large number of universities offering online associations programs all over the country, there are some schools that lack the right type of accreditation for certain fields. Our advice to you is to review the accreditation requirements for your chosen degree path and compare this information with the schools you are considering. It is worth the time and effort to ensure this level of quality.
Finally, after you have analyzed yourself and your intended program, it can be a good idea to research methods of progression beyond your online associates degree. A large amount of students that successfully complete their online associates degree move forward into a bachelor’s or even master’s program. If you have a good idea of what you want to pursue in terms of a career, check out some degree paths that can eventually lead you there. Start planning before your initial enrollment to maximize the utility of your associates degree.
Schools to Consider
You have read about the costs, the courses, and the comparisons associated with the online associates degree program. If you are ready to find the right program, our team encourages you to check out some of the example schools provided in the list below. Online degree programs at this level can be found at universities all over America with degree concentrations in a wide variety of specialized fields.
- Penn State University: Online Associates in Business, Criminal Justice, Family Studies, Information Sciences and Technology, Labor and Employment Relations, Letters, Arts, and Sciences, and Turfgrass Science and Management
- Colorado Technical University: Online Associates in Business, Management, and Accounting
- Purdue University: Online Associates in Veterinary Technology