Online Associate’s Degree

Online Associate’s Degree

An associate degree is the first step in college for many people. Associate’s degrees are relatively easy to obtain, and open the door to advanced education and certain job opportunities. Students who attend online community college earn an associate’s degree in about two years. But how is an online associate degree different from traditional programs? Here’s the breakdown of online community college associate degree programs.

An associate degree is a two-year degree program for high school graduates and GED holders. Community colleges offer these degrees to anyone who qualifies to attend classes. Students who earn an associate degree can transfer to a four-year university and earn a bachelor degree; usually within two years.

Here are the essential facts about online associate degrees.

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Associate’s degree programs cost about $4,000 per year on average.

Associate degree holders can transfer to universities to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Community colleges have lax admissions requirements.

Community colleges are accredited.

What Is an Online Associate’s Degree?

An associate degree, or AS degree, is a two-year degree program offered by community colleges and occasionally universities. The vast majority of associate degrees come from local, in-person community colleges. Today, many community colleges offer online courses and degree programs. Thanks to technology, it’s entirely possible to earn an associate degree online and attend classes remotely.

Online Associate’s Degree Benefits

Associate’s degree holders are, on average, 37% less likely to be unemployed. This is good news, especially because earning an associate degree is relatively easy and inexpensive (compared to a bachelor’s degree). The benefits of an online associate degree program are numerous, especially for students who work full-time or part-time jobs, or have other obligations. Students save money on transportation, and can often continue working and take flexible courses.

Additionally, an associate degree makes it possible to transfer to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree. If you complete the specific prerequisites to attend a university, you can graduate with a bachelor’s degree in just two years after completing your associate degree or other credit requirements.

Flexible Degrees

Programs available through online community colleges offer varying levels of flexibility, which is extremely helpful for many students.

Transfer Opportunities

Students who complete two years of community college can transfer to a university and complete an additional two years for a bachelor’s degree.

Cost-Effective Education

Community colleges can help students save a significant amount of money on their education. Thousands of students save when choosing a community college and transferring to a four-year down the line.

Multiple Programs

Students who attend online classes can work on multiple programs at the same time. Many students choose an associate degree program along with a job training program, such as a coding bootcamp.

High-Quality Education

Online-based programs offer the same high-quality education that’s available. Students learn the same material and graduate prepared.

Learn and Work

Students can take advantage of the flexibility of online courses, and work a full-time or part-time job while attending school.

Computer science is a booming career path with rapid growth and high salaries. There are numerous career paths to choose from with a computer science degree, and each offers unique opportunities in the field.

Computer Science Salary: $86,370
Computer Science Job Growth: 16%

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top computer science careers are growing much faster than average. The BLS predicts the field will grow 16% over the next decade, far outpacing the occupational average of 5.2%.

Computer science associate’s degrees are a great first step to a technology career. Degree holders have an advantage in the economy, and outperform high school graduates in the workforce. These benefits tend to increase if students pursue higher education, such as a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree.

As the number of computer science graduates increases, opportunities in the workforce are filled. However, as the chart above indicates, the number of jobs available far outnumbers the amount filled. Even with a stark increase in graduates over the last decade, there’s still and enormous (and exponentially increasing) demand for fresh talent in the field.

In short, computer science is a future-proof career field that’s worth considering. Computer science salaries are high, and opportunities are plentiful. An associate’s in computer science is an excellent way to test the waters and see if an IT career is right for you.

Computer science certifications are the next step in a successful tech career path. With the help of a computer science AS degree, you can prepare for and pass numerous certification exams and give your resume a spectacular boost. Plus, certifications aren’t just useful for finding a job; you can get certified after hiring and advance within the company. Certifications for computer science tasks can open the door to wide range of career possibilities, and expand your technical skills to a professional level. Here, we’ll go over six of the most valuable certification programs for networks, operating systems, cybersecurity, communication, and product support.

Cisco is a major supplier of communications equipment for businesses across the world, especially in the United States. If you live in a town with office buildings, chances are you’ll find Cisco equipment inside. To service its massive customer base, Cisco offers a certification program for individuals looking to install, maintain, and repair these systems. Cisco Certified Network Associates also provide customer support.

Network+ certification from CompTIA is an asset to any computer science degree holder. This globally-recognized certification is designed for people with network and internet communications training. The certification allows you to work with large-scale networks, and prove your qualifications to prospective employers.  The examination takes roughly 90 minutes to complete, and costs $319 total.

This certification should speak for itself. Apple offers a certification program for people looking to work with and troubleshoot its products. ACA certification also equips professionals with the skills they need to help businesses set up Apple-based infrastructure, and help employees train with and understand the product they’re using.

CompTIA offers A+ Technician certification programs for anyone looking to work in the tech industry. CompTIA’s A+ program is one of the most comprehensive certifications available, and covers everything from data management to cloud computing. The program is designed to cover all of the essentials of working in a modern IT environment, with an element of security mixed in as well. Companies like Intel and HP accept this certification.

Today, system security is more important than ever. Cybersecurity analyst positions also offer great salaries. CISSP certification is an excellent way to gain the qualifications necessary for one of these prestigious positions. CISSP is a global certification that leads the pack in the cybersecurity industry. If you want to become a cybersecurity professional, a CISSP certification is highly advisable.

Apple doesn’t corner the market on OS and brand certifications, as Microsoft also offers a similar program for professionals. This certification covers desktop and system infrastructure, cloud computing, messaging, communication, Microsoft data, and business intelligence among other things.

Online Associate’s Degree Jobs

An associate degree can help you get a job. Additionally, getting an associate degree can help you get a bachelor’s degree at a lower cost, which reduces the risks involved with college education. Your odds of getting a job with an online degree are the same as if you attended college in person. This is because, fundamentally, an online associate’s degree is the same as any other. In fact, online degrees almost never specify if a student attended in-person or online courses.

Computer Scientist

Computer science is the general occupation of the field, and many jobs with the title are available. Students who become computer scientists will work on numerous tasks that vary widely between employers. 

Computer science job responsibilities include programming, analysis, wireframing, system administration, troubleshooting, debugging, and other highly specialized computer-related tasks. In the United States, computer science is one of the most popular coding careers.

  • Computer Science Salary: $99,050
  • Computer Science Jobs Available: 41,760

Software Developer

Software developers focus specifically on coding and programming. These professionals use their knowledge of high-level programming languages to create and maintain software programs. Software developers work for numerous corporations; and occasionally from home.

Software developer job responsibilities include programming, outlining, creating applications, repairing (debugging) broken code, and solving various digital problems. Software developers, software engineers, and programmers make up a large portion of the tech industry.

  • Software Developer Salary: $76,526
  • Software Developer Jobs Available: 74,238

Data Scientist

Data scientists manage large amounts of data, which is extremely important in today’s information economy. These professionals earn some of the highest salaries in the industry, and perform some of the most complex tasks on a daily basis. 

Data scientist job responsibilities include managing databases, creating databases, interpreting large data sets, analyzing information, and turning raw data into usable information. At the end of the day, data scientists are responsible for helping companies make sense of their data.

  • Data Scientist Salary: $113,309
  • Data Scientist Jobs Available: 23,923

Computer Hardware Engineer

Computer hardware engineering is the most hands-on computer science field. These professionals are trained in computer science and various forms of electronic engineering. They must understand the physical and virtual characteristics that make computer work.

Computer hardware engineer job responsibilities include building computers, designing electronic devices and components, creating plans, upgrading existing hardware, and more. This profession is ideal for ‘builders’ who enjoy working with and creating physical devices.

  • Computer Hardware Engineer Salary:  $89,641
  • Computer Hardware Engineer Jobs Available: 19,520
TitleMedian SalaryEntry-Level SalaryMid-Career SalaryLate-Career Salary
Computer Scientist $99,050$68K$100K$134K
Software Engineer$92,046$63K$92K$134K
Hardware Engineer$89,641$70K$90K$115K
Database Administrator$78,779$59K$79K$107K
Data Scientist $113,309$83K$113K$154K
Web Developer$68,524$44K$69K$111K
TitleMedian SalaryLate-Career Salary
Web Developer$68,500$111,000
Software Developer$76,500$107,000
Computer Support Specialist$48,600$70,000
Systems Administration Specialist$64,800$93,000
Data Scientist$113,300$154,000
Information Technology (IT)$84,800$125,000
Network Administrator$63,000$85,000
Help Desk Technician$41,800$58,000
Support Analyst$69,00$95,000

Community College Accreditation

Accreditation is the process that community colleges go through to gain legitimacy for specific fields of study. All legitimate community colleges are accredited through independent agencies. Community colleges are accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. Generally speaking, accreditation for community colleges is a lot easier to grasp than universities. Four-year universities are either nationally accredited or regionally accredited, but the vast majority of public and private universities are regionally accredited.

Community colleges have lax emissions standards. This allows the whole community to advance their education. Generally speaking, community college students must be high school graduates or hold a GED. Here’s a breakdown of how to get into an online community college.

High School Diploma

Most community college students are high school graduates. A high school diploma is one of two ways to meet the minimum requirements at most community colleges. In some cases, current high school students can take classes at a community college to earn college credit before graduation.


A General Education Development (GED) is equivalent to a high school diploma. It allows students who didn’t graduate high school to prove that they qualify for a college program or a job. Anyone seeking a GED can take a test and earn one. Most community colleges will accept a GED in place of a high school diploma, but some four-year colleges require more. 

Community colleges are an economical way to earn a degree. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average associate’s degree costs $10,091 to complete. Some courses cost less; it all depends on the individual school. Online students often save money, as they don’t have to commute to school.

Other sources report lower costs for community college programs. For example, a survey conducted by the College Board found that most students pay around $3,730 per year, or $7,460 for the entire cost of community college tuition.

Scholarships for Online Associate Degrees

Scholarships are an excellent way to save money on tuition. Students often don’t realize how much tuition assistance is available, and that many of them already qualify for scholarships. Be sure to investigate these programs to see how much you can save.

Student Loans and Financing Rates

Student loans are a popular way to pay for college. Student loans are more common for bachelor’s degree programs, but they are also available for associate’s degree programs and online community colleges.

Student loans have benefits and drawbacks. For one, they can cover the high cost of education, but interest rates can be high. Also, some loans aren’t forgivable through bankruptcy. Be sure to know the facts and ask questions before taking out any student loan. 

Online associate’s degree curriculum varies widely between colleges and degree programs. However, the general course requirements of community colleges are the same throughout the country. Here are a few of the subjects you’re likely to encounter during any community college degree program; online or otherwise.

General Education and Humanities

General education and humanities courses take up a sizable portion of the community college curriculum. These classes often include subjects such as English, writing, and other skills that are essential in the modern world.


Most community colleges will require students to complete some level of mathematics training to earn a degree. The minimum requirements are usually relatively simple math courses, but many students take advanced classes.

Specialty Courses

Special degree-specific courses become the primary focus of an associate’s degree program after general education is complete. Special degree-specific online courses vary widely between schools and programs.


Regardless of what degree is chosen, students have the option to choose elective courses. These enrichment classes allow students to learn what they want, such as a foreign language or photography.

Online Degree Options

Online degrees are available across the board. Students can earn a two-year associate degree from a community college, a four-year bachelor degree from a university, and even advanced degrees from graduate school. Here are the most common online degree programs.

Bachelor’s Degree

Bachelor’s degrees are a very common degree, especially amongst people in the STEM field. In fact, a bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement for many high-paying jobs. Students earn a bachelor’s degree from a university.

  • Program Length: 4 Years
  • Average Cost: $20,000 / Year

Master’s Degree

After earning a bachelor’s degree, students who want to pursue additional education can enroll in a graduate school to earn a master’s degree. A master’s degree generally doesn’t take as long to complete as a bachelor’s degree.

  • Program Length: 1.5 – 2 Years
  • Average Cost: $40,000 Total

Advanced Degrees

Advanced degrees, such as a doctorate or PhD, are the most elite kind of college education. They offer the highest level of certification, and open the door to very high-paying positions. These degrees require years of work to complete.

  • Program Length: 3 – 7 Years
  • Average Cost: $48,900 Total

Coding Bootcamp

Coding bootcamps don’t offer degrees, but they are a route into a high-paying career. These specialized job training programs help students learn in-demand technology skills. Many bootcamps offer job placement guarantees. 

  • Program Length: 3 – 12 Months
  • Average Cost: $13,500 Total

Computer Science Professional Organizations

Joining a computer science professional organization can help jump-start your career and keep you up-to-date with the latest industry trends. Membership sometimes comes with additional perks, such as access to a strong peer network, coaching, job opportunities, and employment workshops. Computer science degree students benefit from mentoring opportunities in professional organizations.

The Association for Women in Computing, founded in 1978, is a computer science professional organization catered directly to women in tech. This organization provides a strong network, education opportunities, and support for female computer science professionals though its system of nationwide chapters.

The Association for Information Science and Technology is a popular choice for computer science graduates.  This organization offers an enormous amount of resources to technology professionals, and covers everything from jobs to legal information.  Additionally, the Association for Information Science and Technology welcomes current computer science students.

The Computing Research Association is a top organization for computer science professionals seeking networking opportunities and more. Additionally, the CRA offers opportunities and resources for computer science students and researchers, thereby delivering an all-in-one destination for the field. The organization focuses on technology, leadership, and networking.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology, or ITE for short, is a multinational professional organization for engineers and technology professionals in over 150 countries.  With over 160,000 current members, the ITE is one of the most popular and diverse professional organizations for students with a computer science degree.

The IEEE Computer Society is a technology-focused organization for software engineers, web developers, and all kinds of computer science professionals.  The IEEE Computer Society hosts dozens of annual conferences on some of the coolest technology developments, including virtual reality, artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and security.

The Association for Information Systems is a premier computer science professional organization with chapters located all around the world. This organization hosts conferences, offers career support, provides educational webinars, and gives computer science workers access to a vast global professional network.

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