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What Are the Different Types of Accredited Online Associate's Degree Programs?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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There are a variety of accredited online associate's degree programs that allow students to complete their education from their own homes. In general, they are divided into a few different types of associate's degrees, such as the Associate of Science (AS) and Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees, as well as the Associate of Arts (AA) degree. Some of the most common degree programs include those in business, law, or accounting, though as more and more schools begin to offer online degree programs, there is a wider variety available than before.

One difference among accredited online associate's degree programs is the type of accreditation they have earned. Both regional and national accreditation exist, but some employers prefer schools that have earned regional accreditation because it is a more rigorous process. Regardless of the type, however, it is important to always verify ahead of time that the school is accredited. Otherwise, credits will not transfer to a four-year college, and some employers may not consider the education relevant to a future job.

The degrees earned from an accredited online associate's degree programs vary as well. Some people earn these two-year degrees because they want to eventually transfer into a four-year college, while others simply want to increase their skills and experience in order to qualify for a new job. As a general rule, AA or AS degrees transfer more naturally into an eventual Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) program. AAS degrees are generally intended to direct students right into an existing career; for instance, a paralegal or a nursing assistant, to name a couple. All three of these degrees will typically take about 60 credit hours to complete, though this can vary among different programs.

Some of the most common accredited online associate's degree programs are found in fields such as business or human resources, accounting, or law. These allow people to transition easily into entry-level positions in a number of different fields. Criminal justice is another common degree program, as well as information technology. Nursing programs may be found online as well. For those interested in simply earning a certificate rather than a degree, programs in fields like office administration or transcription are common. These are just a few of the many potential programs available, with the variety increasing all the time, so it is important to research options ahead of time to see what exists.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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