associate degree is a college degree awarded after the completion of
about 20 courses. It either prepares students for a
graduation or allows them to transfer into a bachelor's degree program.
Associate degrees are available from public community colleges, private
2-year colleges, for-profit technical institutes, and many 4-year
colleges and universities. An associate degree program can prepare you for
many exciting careers in science, technology, engineering, and
healthcare. Compared with those whose highest level of educational
attainment was a high school diploma, those with an associate degree
earn much more -- especially over the course of a career.
the most recent U.S. Department of Education data, a total of 728,114 associate degrees
were awarded in the U.S. during the 2006-2007 academic year by degree-granting
postsecondary institutions in the 50 states, the District of Columbia,
and outlying areas that year. Of these, men earned 34.3% and women
earned 62.5% of degrees awarded.
Between 2006–07 and
2018–19, in the middle alternative projections, the number of
associate's degrees is projected to increase 25 percent overall;
increase 16 percent for men; and increase 31 percent for women.
A December 2009 report, "Changes
in Postsecondary Awards Below the Bachelor's Degree: 1997 to 2007,"
describes changes in the number and types of postsecondary awards below
the bachelor's degree (certificates and associate's degrees) conferred
over the decade between 1997 and 2007. According to the report, about 47
percent of all undergraduates were enrolled in subbaccalaureate programs
in 2007-08, and in the previous year, subbaccalaureate awards accounted
for almost 40 percent of all undergraduate credentials awarded. Between
1997 and 2007, the total number of subbaccalaureate awards conferred
increased by 28
percent to a total of 1.5 million. While community colleges still confer
the largest number of subbaccalaureate awards, the rate of increase in
awards conferred by private for-profit institutions was greater,
especially in 4-year for-profit institutions, which more than tripled
the number of awards conferred between 1997 and 2007.
government-approved organizations evaluate and
accredit schools. The
approval of these organizations signals that a school meets basic
academic and financial standards. There are seven accrediting
organizations approved by the U.S. Department of Education, one for each
of seven regions.
Beyond broad school
accreditation, specific programs are also accredited.
Professional and industry associations or organizations -- such as ABET
for engineering, and the American
College of Veterinary Medicine for veterinary technicians -- also accredit
programs that train professionals for specific occupations.
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To be career-ready in 2 years, students need to choose an
occupational major early in their school career. And there are
plenty of options. Explore a wide range of careers that start with an associate degree.