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An associate degree is a college degree awarded after the completion of about 20 courses. It either prepares students for a career following 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. 

Degree Statistics
According to the most recent U.S. Department of Education data, between academic years 200304 and 201314, the total number of postsecondary degrees awarded increased at all degree levels: associate's degrees by 51 percent (from 665,000 to 1.0 million), bachelor's degrees by 34 percent (from 1.4 million to 1.9 million), master's degrees by 34 percent (from 564,000 to 754,000), and doctor's degrees by 41 percent (from 126,000 to 178,000).

Accreditation
Several 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. Click here for more information about program accreditation.

Associate degree careers
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.


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