ACCREDITED ONLINE ASSOCIATE DEGREES

Best Online Associate Degree Programs for 2017

An online associate degree program allows students to pursue their education in a way that best fits their schedule. Upon successful program completion, students may be eligible to begin an entry-level career or continue their education at a four-year institution. To help students kick-start their education, we have analyzed schools across the country based on factors such as average class size, financial aid opportunities and access to student services. Explore the best schools that offer online associate degree programs for 2017 below. .

RankSchool Title Net Price Financial Aid Total Programs Student-Teacher ratioRanking Score School Description Additional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1 East Mississippi Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
78%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
64
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
27%
Ranking SCORE 99.80
Read more

East Mississippi Community College is the perfect institution for a student interested in beginning their college career in an affordable manner. Affordability is ensured by low tuition rates—for both in-state and out-of-state students—and a wide selection of financial coverage opportunities, including grants, merit-based scholarships, and federal aid. Students attending EMCC will be a part of the traditional college experience, including participating in student organizations and campus events, but with the added benefit of small class sizes. EMCC offers a large selection of degree emphases, helping to guarantee that all students will find the program they’ve been looking for.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
2 St Philip's College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
15%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
92
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
4%
Ranking SCORE 97.41
Read more

Whether a student is interested in transferring to a four-year institution after completing an associate degree, or they're planning on completing two years of education and entering the workforce, St. Philip’s College has a program that will pair well with all students’ life goals. The majority of St. Philip’s courses are fully transferrable, allowing students that need to relocate the benefit of not having to backtrack; likewise, St. Philips will also accept transfer credit coming from a different institution to satisfy their degree requirements. Staying on the right path to graduation is made easy with St. Philip’s academic advising services, who help students to pick the right courses for their degree.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
3 Allen County Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
68%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
75
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
23%
Ranking SCORE 96.74
Read more

With forty different degree tracks ranging between transferable associate of arts or science degrees and vocational associate of applied science degrees, Allen County Community College gives students the opportunity to design their own future, starting with a quality education. In addition to Allen’s full degree programs, they also offer a variety of certificates and licensure programs that can be helpful for achieving career advancement in a short amount of time. Students will be able to socialize with one another on either of Allen’s primary campuses, participating in campus events, physical fitness activities, and community service events.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
4 San Antonio College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
9%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
83
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
7%
Ranking SCORE 95.68
Read more

Judson College offers a bachelor’s degree in psychology which may be a worthwhile pursuit for any student with aspirations of achieving a counseling-based career. The small student-to-faculty ration at Judson College allows students to be certain they will receive the academic and emotional support that will ensure the successful completion of their education. Judson College also helps students to learn the importance of peer engagement through close-knit campus residence communities. Student-run clubs and organizations are also available to fill the hours between classes; organizations include intramural sports, mentoring programs, and special interest groups.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
5 Holmes Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
37%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
46
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
25%
Ranking SCORE 95.47
Read more

Holmes Community College offers a large selection of associate degree emphases that can lead to successful careers and possible transfer into a four-year bachelor’s program. One of the most notable benefits to starting an education at Holmes is the low tuition rates. The pairing of this low cost with Holmes’s goal to award financial aid to the majority of its students results in a college education for which students are charged at little to no cost. Online learning is also an option for students who feel they work better from home. The same faculty members that teach traditional courses also teach online sections, guaranteeing the most equal distribution of knowledge in both formats.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
6 Barton County Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
71%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
33
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
30%
Ranking SCORE 95.44
Read more

Beginning a college education at Barton County Community College provides students with the opportunity to get a feel for the college experience without paying too much money in their early semesters. The selection of programs and degree types available at Barton is diverse, ranging from transferable to non-transferable, and includes several certificate programs. Students may enroll in online courses so they are better able to manage their schedules. Online classes award the exact same credit as is awarded in traditional courses, and offers all the same opportunities for transfer. Students who excel in their work may be eligible to apply for merit-based scholarships.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
7 Western Nebraska Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
60%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
23%
Ranking SCORE 95.39
Read more

A cost-friendly alternative to beginning a college education at a 4-year school is to pursue an associate’s degree at Western Nebraska Community College. Students will be able to immerse themselves in a traditional college atmosphere and earn credits that will later transfer into a bachelor’s program, but without having to pay heavy tuition prices common to upper-level schools. WNCC provides a set of student services that keep its learners on track to graduation, including advisement services and individual tutoring. Students will enroll in small classes, allowing them to maintain as much teacher-student dialogue as they wish.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
8 Western Wyoming Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
39%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
32
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
53%
Ranking SCORE 95.18
Read more

Not only is earning an associate degree at Western Wyoming Community College cheap, it is also convenient. Several degree programs that WWCC offers can be completed either partially or completely online. Online learning is a perfect opportunity for students with obligations outside of their schoolwork, or even students who are living out-of-state. WWCC is home to a thriving community, and offers state-of-the-art student housing, dining facilities, and even an aquatic center. Students who are interested in pursuing a bachelor’s degree post-graduation will have the chance to transfer their WWCC credits to an upper-level school.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
9 Kansas City Kansas Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
22%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
24
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
20%
Ranking SCORE 94.70
Read more

At Kansas City Kansas Community College, prospective students can choose from various degree programs offered at the associate level along with other options including certificate, enrichment and Adult Basic Education programs. Most associate degree programs can be completed in two years and are designed to prepare students for entry-level work placement or may allow them to transfer to a four-year institution to continue their academic career. KCKCC provides various resources for students including academic advising, a child care center, student health services and career planning services.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
10 Maysville Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
9%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
23
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
30%
Ranking SCORE 94.69
Read more

Students interested in earning their associate degree from a quality academic institution may consider enrolling in one of Maysville Community & Technical College’s associate degree programs. MCTC offers Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, and Associate of Applied Science degrees that give students the opportunity to study a field that interests them. The school also offers diploma and certificate programs for additional academic advancement. MCTC also offers a Student Support Services program that is designed to help low-income, first-generation college students meet their academic goals.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
11 Hutchinson Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
59%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
18
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
29%
Ranking SCORE 94.63
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
12 Odessa College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
32%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
24
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
20%
Ranking SCORE 94.58
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
13 Three Rivers Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
17%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
40
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
17%
Ranking SCORE 94.51
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
14 Lamar Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
62%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
28%
Ranking SCORE 94.48
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
15 Frank Phillips College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
30%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
16
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
25%
Ranking SCORE 94.39
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
16 Tulsa Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
39%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
21
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
14%
Ranking SCORE 94.32
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
17 Southwestern Oregon Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
51%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
18
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
20%
Ranking SCORE 94.08
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
18 Pamlico Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
11%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
31
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
67%
Ranking SCORE 94.05
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
19 Central Texas College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
13%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
43
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
14%
Ranking SCORE 93.98
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
20 Albany Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
2%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
27
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
41%
Ranking SCORE 93.90
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
21 Bluegrass Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
2%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
30
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
18%
Ranking SCORE 93.83
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
22 West Kentucky Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
1%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
27
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
38%
Ranking SCORE 93.82
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
23 Rio Salado College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
4%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
44
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
17%
Ranking SCORE 93.80
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
24 Central Georgia Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
47
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
31%
Ranking SCORE 93.72
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
25 Gateway Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
9%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
27
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
34%
Ranking SCORE 93.66
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
26 Yavapai College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
15%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
16
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
17%
Ranking SCORE 93.65
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
27 State Fair Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
14%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
28
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
21%
Ranking SCORE 93.64
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
28 College of Southern Idaho Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
46%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
18
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
18%
Ranking SCORE 93.59
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
29 Pitt Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
11%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
31
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
13%
Ranking SCORE 93.59
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
30 Mesa Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
25%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
24
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
12%
Ranking SCORE 93.55
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
31 Metropolitan Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
20%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
22
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
12%
Ranking SCORE 93.52
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
32 Williston State College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
74%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
37%
Ranking SCORE 93.50
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
33 Haywood Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
9%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
20%
Ranking SCORE 93.49
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
34 Dakota College at Bottineau Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
40%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
20
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
28%
Ranking SCORE 93.48
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
35 New Mexico Junior College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
34%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
18%
Ranking SCORE 93.46
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
36 Somerset Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
8%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
26
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
25%
Ranking SCORE 93.45
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
37 Crowder College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
18%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
21
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
22%
Ranking SCORE 93.44
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
38 Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
11%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
12
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
16%
Ranking SCORE 93.40
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
39 Western Oklahoma State College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
63%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
8
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
20%
Ranking SCORE 93.39
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
40 Henderson Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
22%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
12
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
21%
Ranking SCORE 93.36
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
41 Columbus State Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
20%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
28
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
8%
Ranking SCORE 93.36
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
42 Lake Region State College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
63%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
40%
Ranking SCORE 93.22
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
43 Tyler Junior College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
17%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
19
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
15%
Ranking SCORE 93.22
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
44 Arizona Western College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
20%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
18%
Ranking SCORE 93.20
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
45 Madisonville Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
22%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
25
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
30%
Ranking SCORE 93.16
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
46 Palo Alto College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
20%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
45
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
13%
Ranking SCORE 93.15
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
47 Lenoir Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
13%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
25
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
12%
Ranking SCORE 93.13
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
48 Trinity Valley Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
30%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
23%
Ranking SCORE 93.12
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
49 Northeast Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
38%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
16
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
43%
Ranking SCORE 93.10
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
50 Sinclair College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
28%
TOTAL
PROGRAMS
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
GRAD
RATE
17%
Ranking SCORE 93.08
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes

An associate degree is a two-year credential with versatile application. Students who earn the degree do so either to (1) reach a specific occupational goal or (2) to earn introductory credits in a more affordable environment before transferring to a university. Classes are co-educational and include a variety of instructional models, including lectures, laboratory sections and research assignments. Students who find it difficult to attend courses on campus may prefer to enroll in online associate degree and career-training programs. This guide was created to assist students in their evaluation of associate degree programs and help illustrate why college accreditation is worth special consideration.

Does an Associate Degree Pay?

Salaries earned by associate degree holders vary considerably by their chosen career field, their experience, their employer, and the region in which they live and work. The value of the associate degree in financial terms can also be pegged to job growth and employer demand. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has reported a 2013 median weekly wage of $777 for workers with associate degrees. In contrast, employees who have not completed a post-secondary degree made only $651 per week in 2013. The BLS has identified 80 occupations with median annual salaries over $50,000. At the top end of the earning scale are many health care related jobs requiring two-year degrees, followed closely by occupations in electrical and mechanical engineering.

Associate Degrees: The Basics

An associate degree is typically conferred by junior colleges, community colleges technical or trade schools and, on rare occasion, four-year universities. The schools may be public or private, for profit or not-for profit, on campus and online. Benefits of enrolling can include lower financial and academic admissions barriers than at four-year schools, the opportunity to experience courses in the major without dedicating four-years to it, and the opportunity to complete training for a career. Degree programs include a core undergraduate liberal arts education as well and specialized courses in a direct path to careers such as nursing or criminal justice. The table below serves as an introduction to associate degree coursework, combining general education classes with more advanced studies in a specific career field.

COURSE NAME DESCRIPTION
Basic Computer Literacy This course is to introduce first-year students to the use of digital resources to conduct online research, prepare written work for class, and protect their data.
Elementary Spanish Through the use of class discussions and foreign language laboratory hours, students learn Spanish language vocabulary, sentence structure, pronunciation and culture.
Introduction to Anthropology An introduction to human development in diverse biological or environmental conditions. Satisfies one social science requirement.
Early Childhood Education II Continuing from ECE I, this course includes a historical view of early childhood education, cultural diversity, classroom ethics, special needs, and teaching curriculum.
Advanced Managerial Accountig This class focuses on the interpretation of cost information and data used in planning or controlling business organizations. Instruction of accurate report formatting.

When an Associate Degree Makes Sense

An associate degree program is an attractive option for students who are not ready to commit to a four-year education, or for those who are still looking over their choices for a major field of study. Some students cannot compete academically for a bachelor’s degree program and find the associate degree a solid opportunity to raise their grades and acclimate themselves to the rigors of a college education. In many states, major four-year schools form partnerships with junior and community colleges to ensure that general education credit hours of their associate degree will transfer smoothly for students moving on to a bachelor’s degree. Finally, an associate degree program provides the direct training and credential for students to enter professions immediately upon graduation.

TWO YEARS TO A CAREER

Two-year associate degree programs offer a unique opportunity to take the fast track toward a first career or to train for a new profession. Rest assured, community and junior college courses are designed for college-level students and are not dumbed down for easy graduation. Students graduating high school or returning to college following experience in the workplace will find courses in associate degree programs structured to increase in difficulty from general overviews to more detailed studies in specific areas. Vocational or occupational-focused programs are often taught by professionals in the field. For example, nursing courses are led by experienced nurses in the varied specialties of in health care. In some cases, students in one field will add an associate degree that broadens their credentials.

Professional fields that hire entry-level graduates from associate degree programs include:

Health Care Office and Technical Support

Medical assistants, Medical Billing and Insurance Technicians, Dental Assistants, Physical Therapy Assistants and Aides.

Health Care Practitioners and Technicians

Diagnostic Medical Sonographers, Dental Hygienists, Radiation Therapists and Registered Nurses.

First Response and Legal Professionals

Paralegals, Police Officers, Firefighters, EMTs, Court Reporters, Forensics Technicians, Homeland Security Officers and Correctional Officers.

Technology and Technical

Computer Support Specialists, Civil Engineering Technicians, Electronics Technicians and Construction Trades Technicians.

TRANSFER TO A FOUR-YEAR COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY

According to a Community College Research Center (CCRC) 2013 study, 45 percent of all undergraduate students were attending community colleges. In addition, the study found that 64 percent of community college students transferred to four-year colleges before completing their associate degrees.

Community and junior colleges offer such a solid cost-cutting option for students seeking to complete core general education requirements that many four-year college students are taking “reverse transfers” to finish their first two years. Depending on the institution, the general core classes are built on the same curriculum used at four-year institutions. Consequently, the CCRC found that 72 percent of students completing their associate degree and transferring to four-year schools completed bachelor’s degrees within six years.

Students must take utmost care before, during and after entering an associate degree program to ensure that their credit hours will transfer successfully if they go on to a bachelor’s degree program. They should interview academic counselors at their prospective community college and four-year transfer school to determine the classes that satisfy general education and major requirements. Counselors can map out course equivalencies. Colleges that share transfer agreements offer students the most academically (and financially) pain-free systems of credit transfer. Students would do well prior to enrolling to see if the target colleges or academic departments will offer written documentation on how the transfer will take place. The process of articulation completes the process when the registrar at the target school transcribes the associate degree courses into the four-year student transcript.

Online Associate Degree Programs

Online associate degree programs are available almost everywhere in the country and accessible from any location that has a connection to the Internet. In addition to community colleges – the most common choice – students can participate in distance learning at private, for-profit colleges and trade schools. Transfer students considering private schools should be especially meticulous in searching for four-year schools that accept credits from those institutions.

All transactions at online colleges are completed on computers or smart devices, including applications, enrollment, registration, course selection, financial aid applications, tutoring, academic counseling, and posting of grades and transcripts. The courses themselves are customized for delivery online, mirroring on-campus curricula and academic quality but tailored for distance faculty/student interactions. Classes and course materials are presented and stored online for 24/7 access, allowing students to set the time and place for their studies.

Digital courses take advantage of well-tested, reliable technologies for course lectures, student participation, and research. Tools include an interface that works on all browsers and types of computers, providing email systems, chat rooms, instant messaging, conference calls and video programs such as Skype.

Online schools provide active technical support for students who need assistance using the interface, email, or a particular teaching tool. Some private and public colleges provide students with a laptop computer. Students can also log on from home computers, at work (where permitted), in public cafes and libraries.

Online Learning Q&A

How do students get hold of their professors when classes are not in session?

Many online schools require instructors to maintain daily contact with all students via email and discussion threads. Faculty members also establish regular online hours for student contact.

Is it necessary to be online every day when you’re in an online degree program?

Most online students dedicate a certain number of hours a day or week for logging into their classes. There may be required student discussions or conferences built into the schedule that all must join online. Students that maintain regular online hours have the best success.

How can online classes compare to the interactions students get in a regular classroom?

They compare favorably. For instance, students who are too insecure to share in a crowded classroom find it easier to participate. Students also work in peer groups or on collaborative assignments, communicating by email, chat, cell phones or conference calls. Many graduates form lifelong friendships and career mentors.

If online degree programs take less time to complete, are they inferior degrees?

Online degree and career programs are as strenuous and academically demanding as those of their campus cousins. A shorter time-to-graduation is typically accomplished by students enrolled in accelerated programs who have the drive and focus to succeed.

Are all online degree programs eligible for financial aid?

Formal accreditation is one way a college satisfies Federal and state requirements for offering financial aid. Public community colleges typically offer qualified students the full range of aid in Federal and private loans, grants and fellowships. Students that cannot otherwise afford to pay for tuition, fees and supplies should communicate with prospective college financial aid representatives as a key component in choosing a school.

Community College Accreditation

Accreditation is a voluntary system by which schools, colleges and universities set, regulate, and address academic policies and educational quality. Campus-based and online colleges offering associate degrees seek accreditation from national and regional agencies that make an independent, non-partial assessment of the school. All accreditation agencies must be approved by the U.S. Department of Education.

Most community colleges seek accreditation from one of seven regional accrediting bodies or commissions. In the Western part of the country, for example, associate-degree granting institutions typically volunteer for accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges (ACCJC). Departments within two-year degree-granting schools may also seek accreditation for specialized programs. Nursing degree programs at community colleges typically seek programmatic accreditations from state boards of nursing.

Accreditation is the governing factor whether colleges may offer financial aid packages (loans, grants, work study) from the Federal government. Because of their unique course delivery system, online schools may also seek accreditation from agencies such as the National Distance Learning Association to vouch for the quality of their online degree programs.