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What is an associated degree?


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2013-03-13 21:16:43
2013-03-13 21:16:43

Associates (Community College Level) vs. Bachelors (Four Year College or University)

Community College Level

An Associate degree (two year community college) is designed as a two year program of study as a full-time student provided the student takes the degree as prescribed by the college. Evidently it would take longer as a part-time student. Within the United States, the associates typically falls into three main categories; Associates of Arts (AA), Associates of Science (AS), and Associates of Applied Science (AAS). An associates of arts (AA), and associates in science (AS) degrees are typically designed for transfer to a four year college or university. Therefore, these degrees have a strong liberal arts emphasis and include a good balance of humanities, social science, and written communication along with the exact sciences especially in higher level math. They also have the foundational course work needed as prerequisites for the higher level courses at the four year institution. The AAS was typically designed as a terminal degree giving the student all the expertise needed to enter the workforce after completion of the degree. However, today, many AAS degree are transferable, but the student should meet with the transfer counselor for appropriate direction when it comes to the AAS degrees. Depending on the program of study and state mandates, the associates can take anywhere from 60 to 64 credits to complete. Some programs of study (usually within the health related fields) may take a bit more in credits.

Four Year College or University Level

The bachelors degree (four year college or university) is designed as a four year program of study provided the student takes the degree as prescribed by the college or university. Again, part-time students will take longer to complete the degree. How long it would take depends on the credit load taken per semester. Basically, within the United States there are two common categories; Bachelors of Arts (BA), and Bachelors of Science (BS). It depends on the institution and department within the school as to which focus they prefer.

The BA has a broader scope, with a strong emphasis on the humanities, theoretical and general knowledge in a recognized discipline, interdisciplinary field, or of a professional study.

The BS is more of a focused approach with a science base to include a balance of liberal arts, technological knowledge, math and computer oriented skills, and practical skills needed for a particular discipline within the field.

The number of credits required depends on the program of study. In general, the bachelors can take between 120 and 128 credits to complete. Some programs of study may take more. For example, architecture. The following are some differences between community colleges, and four year colleges and universities.

Community College

Many individuals start at the community college level for a variety of reasons to include:

  • Community colleges are less expensive to start out with. You can cut the cost of a four year degree almost in half by starting at a community college first, and then transferring to four year college or university to finish up the last two years.
  • There are typically smaller classroom sizes at the community college with a better professor to student ratio, which means more individualized attention.
  • Some students do not meet the entrance requirements of the four year college or university, thus they start at the community college first, then transfer later.
  • The community colleges are typically more family oriented, with a strong sense of community.
  • Some students like to be close to home, thus they start at their home county community college.

Four Year Colleges and Universities

  • Four year institutions are usually larger, with a number of activities not offered at the community college level. For example, fraternities, and sororities, college football, etc.
  • Some colleges may have top name lecturers, within large lecture halls which are preferred by many students.
  • Some individuals like the four year institutions environment (the university atmosphere).
  • There are students who can major in special program curriculums not offered by the community college.

In the end, it is a matter of preference. Do you like being a big fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a big pond? Whichever you choose, you must be happy with your school, its offerings, the services provided, and environment. If you're not happy, you will not fair as well.

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