The associate degree is a two year degree given by US colleges. The degree is awarded to students who have completed all the requirements of the program. There are three classes of these degrees in the USA: the associate of arts degree (also called the A.A. degree), the associate of applied science degree (the A.A.S. degree), and the associate of science degree (A.S. degree). These degrees are awarded by two types of colleges: community colleges, which are operated by the local government and financed by public funds, and junior colleges, which are generally privately run. Both are excellent options.
There are three general groups of students who will enroll in community or junior college. The first are students who do not want to pursue a bachelor degree, but prefer instead to complete an associate degree program. The second are students who eventually want to earn a bachelor degree, but choose to complete the first two years of their education at a community college before transferring to a four-year college or university. The third are members of the local community who want to take classes in various subjects without pursuing any type of degree or enrolling in a formal program (this is called "continuing education").
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At all public colleges in the US, including community colleges, the tuition paid by an international student will be higher than what is paid by a student living in the college's local community. The international student will pay the same tuition as an American student who lives outside the local area. Typically the cost of attending a community college will still be much lower than attending a four-year college or university, even a public one. Therefore completing an associates degree program at a US community college is a very cost effective way of obtaining an education. It also gives international students the ability to greatly reduce the cost of completing a bachelor degree if they choose to transfer to a four-year college upon finishing their first two years, even if they don't complete all the requirements for the associate degree.
Junior colleges offer associates degrees similarly to community colleges, but because they are privately funded they charge the same tuition to all students. Therefore, international students do not have to pay more than American students when attending a junior college. However, a privately run junior college may not be as economical as a community college. International students who are on a tight budget should carefully research the cost differences between all their options. This holds true whether the student is planning to complete a two year degree, or whether the student is planning to eventually transfer to a four-year college.
Another matter that should be carefully researched is whether the college you are considering is fully accredited to award associate degrees and whether the courses you complete at the college are fully transferable to another college. The best way to determine whether the college is fully accredited is to ask major universities if they would recognize an associate degree from that community college or junior college. Search our top US community colleges and junior colleges offering associate degree programs.
Advantages of an Associate Degree
Time savings: they can be completed in approximately two years.
Higher earning potential: many skilled professions and high-paying jobs require at least an associate degree in a specialized field or discipline.
Cost savings: tuition at community colleges is typically lower than at public four-year colleges.
Convenience: most cities in the USA have colleges that offer associate degrees so it will be easy and convenient to complete your degree anywhere. You can also complete a degree online from your own home.
Higher demand: associate degree holders are now in more demand than ever thanks to the increasingly favorable reputations of many community and junior colleges.