Obtaining a degree has become more accessible than ever thanks to online education. Pursuing an online associate degree now is especially easy and can open up a wealth of opportunities and avenues for personal and professional growth. So, if you’re someone who’s considering an associate degree, but doesn’t know where or how to begin your search, don’t worry. CollegEnroll is here to help! 

This article offers useful insights into the steps and strategies you need to successfully pursue an online associate degree.

An online associate degree is a two-year undergraduate degree offered by colleges and universities that you can complete entirely over the internet. This type of degree covers general education courses and specific subjects related to your chosen field.

It’s a flexible option for students who need to balance studies with work or personal commitments. You can study at your own pace and often schedule your classes around your life. The credits you earn can sometimes be transferred to a four-year college if you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree later.

An online associate degree is definitely considered the most convenient and cost-effective way to get higher education and improve your job prospects.

Who Should Get an Associate Degree Online?

Wondering if an online associate degree is right for you? It might be if you fall into one of these groups who can benefit from getting an associate degree using the online mode of learning: 

High School Graduates

  • Cost-Effective Education: An online associate degree is typically more affordable than a four-year college, making it a good option for those concerned about the high costs of education.
  • Foundation for Further Studies: It provides a solid educational foundation, and the credits earned can often be transferred to a four-year program if they decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree later.

Working Professionals

  • Flexible Schedule: Online associate degrees allow working professionals to balance their job responsibilities with their education. Classes can often be taken at times that fit into their busy schedules.
  • Career Advancement: Gaining additional qualifications can open up new job opportunities or lead to promotions within their current workplace.

Career Changers

  • Acquire New Skills: Individuals looking to change careers can gain the necessary skills and knowledge through an online associate degree. This can be particularly useful for transitioning into fields like healthcare, IT, or business.
  • Earn While You Learn: They can continue working in their current job while preparing for a new career, minimizing financial strain.

Parents and Caregivers

  • Manage Family Responsibilities: Parents or caregivers could manage their education alongside their family duties. They can study during naptime, after the kids go to bed, or whenever they have free time.

Remote Residents

  • Access to Education: People living in remote areas might not have easy access to traditional colleges. Online associate degrees provide the opportunity to pursue higher education without relocating.
  • Overcome Geographic Limitations: They can choose from a wider range of programs that might not be available locally.

An online associate degree offers flexibility, accessibility, and affordability, making it a suitable option for those looking to further their education and improve their career prospects.

The different kinds of online associate degrees available for students to choose from include:

  1. Associate of Arts (AA): An Associate of Arts degree focuses on liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences, often used as a stepping stone to a bachelor’s degree.
  1. Associate of Science (AS): The main concentration here is on math, science, engineering, or technology, preparing students for careers or further education in these fields.
  1. Associate of Applied Science (AAS): An AAS degree mainly emphasizes practical skills and is geared towards immediate entry into the workforce, often in technical or vocational fields.
  1. Associate of Business Administration (ABA): The ABA focuses primarily on business principles and prepares students for roles in management, finance, marketing, and other business-related fields.
  1. Associate of Fine Arts (AFA): This degree program centers on developing artistic skills in areas like visual arts, music, theater, or dance, often serving as a foundation for a bachelor’s degree in the arts.
  1. Associate of Nursing (ADN): Designed for aspiring nurses, the ADN offers foundational knowledge and skills for entry-level nursing positions or further education in nursing.
  1. Associate of Applied Arts (AAA): This unique degree combines general education with specialized training in areas like graphic design, fashion design, or culinary arts, preparing students for creative careers.

These degrees can typically be earned entirely online, offering flexibility for students balancing work, family, or other commitments.

Enrolling in an online associate degree is simple if you follow and understand these detailed steps.

  1. Research Online Degree Programs
  • Identify Your Interests: the first step is to understand what field you are most interested in. This could possibly help you find an online associate degree program that best aligns with your interests and passions.
  • Accreditation: Next, make sure the online college courses and programs you are considering are accredited. Accreditation ensures the quality and recognition of your degree.
  1. Choose the Right Online College
  • Compare Schools: Start looking at different online colleges that offer the associate degree you want, and compare their programs, tuition costs, and student support services. Being mindful of these factors will help you take a decision that you won’t regret in the future.
  • Check Out the Reviews: Connect with current and former students to for reviews and testimonials. This will help you get an idea of the online college’s reputation and the quality of their online degree programs.
  1. Apply to the Program
  • Check Requirements: Carefully review the admission requirements for the online associate degree program. This often includes a high school diploma or GED, and sometimes standardized test scores.
  • Submit Application: Complete the application process, which may include filling out forms, writing a personal statement, and paying an application fee.
  1. Financial Aid and Scholarships
  • Explore Options: It’s a good idea to investigate financial aid options such as federal grants, student loans, and scholarships specifically for online degree programs.
  • Apply for Aid: Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and any other necessary financial aid applications.
  1. Plan Your Course Schedule
  • Full-Time or Part-Time: It is important to decide whether you will be studying full-time or part-time, as this decision will affect how long it takes to complete your degree.
  • Course Load: Next, it’s wise to plan your course load each semester, to make sure you balance it with your personal and professional responsibilities.
  1. Enroll in Online College Courses
  • Register for Classes: Once accepted, register for the required online college courses for your associate degree. Pay attention to deadlines and prerequisites.
  • Access Course Materials: Try familiarizing yourself with the online learning platform and access your course materials, such as textbooks, lecture notes, and assignments.
  1. Utilize Student Resources
  • Academic Support: Making the most of the academic resources provided by the online college, such as tutoring, writing centers, and academic advising.
  • Technical Support: It’s a good idea to access technical support if you encounter any issues with the online learning platform.
  1. Engage with Instructors and Peers
  • Participate in Discussions: Actively participating in online discussions and forums to engage with your instructors and classmates could be a great idea.
  • Network: Invest in building a network with peers and faculty that may prove to be beneficial for academic and career advice.
  1. Complete Coursework and Exams
  • Stay on Top of Deadlines: Keep track of assignment deadlines and exam dates. Use a planner or digital calendar to manage your time effectively.
  • Submit Assignments: Make sure you submit all assignments on time and prepare thoroughly for exams to succeed in your online associate degree program.
  1. Graduate and Plan Your Next Steps
  • Meet Graduation Requirements: Make sure you meet all the requirements to graduate with your online associate degree.
  • Consider Further Education: Consider if you want to study further and decide if you’d like to transfer your credits to a four-year institution to pursue a bachelor’s degree. Alternatively, you could consider entering the workforce to kick start your career.

Following these simple steps could help you successfully pursue an online associate degree, offering the flexibility and the opportunity you need to advance your education and career.

Now that we have a fair understanding of how you could pursue an online associate degree, let’s take a quick look at the benefits and shortcomings of earning this degree through an online medium.

Advantages of an Online Associate DegreeDisadvantages of an Online Associate Degree
Online degree programs allow you to study at your own pace and schedule, making it easier to balance work, family, and other commitments.Some online associate degree programs may lack practical, hands-on training, which could be crucial for certain fields.
Online college courses can be accessed from anywhere, eliminating the need to commute or relocate.To successfully complete an online associate degree, you may need to work on your time-management skills.
Degrees like the online AA degree, often have lower tuition fees and eliminate costs associated with commuting and housing.Online learning offers fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction with instructors and peers, which may impact networking and collaboration.
Many institutions offer a variety of online associate degree programs, providing options in numerous fields of study.Access to reliable internet and recent technology is essential, and technical issues sometimes, may disrupt your studies.
Credits earned in online college courses can often be transferred to four-year institutions if you decide to pursue a bachelor’s degree.As an online student, you may miss out on the full college experience, including extracurricular activities and campus resources.
Some online associate degree programs can be tailored to fit your learning style and needs.Receiving feedback on assignments and exams may take longer in an online setting compared to in-person classes.

Popular Career Options After an Online Associate Degree

The one true way of reaping the benefits of a higher education degree is to land a job that fulfills you personally and professionally. Let’s take a quick look at 7 such popular job roles that can set you up for success after you graduate with an online associate degree: 

Registered Nurse (RN)

As a registered nurse, your prime responsibility would be to provide patient care, administer medications, monitor patient health, and collaborate with healthcare teams. Typically, you could scout for job opportunities in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, and home healthcare services.

With the increasing demand for nurses across the globe, you could advance your career with further specialization and advancement through additional certifications or degrees.

Related: How to Choose a Nursing Specialty


If you choose to be a paralegal, you would get to assist lawyers by conducting legal research, drafting case-related documents, organizing files, and managing case details. In this profession,  you could be employed by law firms, corporate legal departments, government agencies, or non-profit organizations. With considerable years of experience, paralegals become eligible for opportunities that can advance their careers in areas like corporate law, criminal law, or family law.

Computer Support Specialist

Another interesting career option is to become a computer support specialist. If you choose to become a computer support specialist, you would be offering technical assistance to a company’s employees, troubleshooting their computer issues, installing software, and maintaining hardware systems. You would either be employed by the IT department of a company, or work at tech support centers. You could also start your own business and work as an independent contractor. The high demand for IT professionals comes with the possibility of moving into network administration, cybersecurity, or IT management roles.

Medical Assistant

As a medical assistant, you would be required to perform administrative and clinical tasks in healthcare settings like medical offices, hospitals or outpatient care centers. These tasks could include, but are not limited to scheduling appointments, taking patient histories, and assisting with examinations. The growth potential in this field is immense as medical assistants are often exposed to opportunities that help them advance into specialized medical roles or pursue further education in healthcare fields.

Human Resources Assistant

A human resource assistant is mostly required to support HR departments by handling employee records, assisting with recruitment, managing benefits administration, and coordinating training programs. If you choose this profession, you would be working in corporate offices, government agencies, non-profits, and various other industries. 

Recommended Read: All You Need to Know About Getting a Degree in HR Management

Web Developer

One of the popular job roles for those interested in technology is web development. As a web developer, you would be designing, building, and maintaining websites, ensuring functionality, performance, and user experience. You’ll get to work in technology companies, digital marketing agencies, do freelance work, and work with corporate IT departments. With the ever increasing demand for skilled web developers, you can earn well-paying opportunities if you specialize in areas like front-end development, back-end development, or full-stack development.

Radiologic Technologist

If you choose radiologic technologist to be your profession, you would be responsible for operating imaging equipment to perform diagnostic imaging exams, such as X-rays, MRIs, and CT scans, and ensure patient safety during procedures. You would get to work at hospitals, diagnostic imaging centers, and outpatient care facilities. 

These are just a few career options that highlight the diverse opportunities available to you with an online associate degree. With further advancement in education and considerable years of experience, each profession offers potential for growth and advancement within their respective fields.

Pursuing an online associate degree not only provides a flexible and accessible pathway to higher education, but also offers a solid platform for you to build a successful career.

With the convenience of studying from anywhere, an online degree program allows you to balance education with work or family commitments. These programs are generally more affordable than traditional on-campus options and can help enhance online learning as well as improve technological skills and self-discipline, which are valuable in today’s job market. The diverse range of available programs allows you to tailor your education to your interests and career goals. 

How long does it take to get an associate degree?

An online associate degree typically takes about two years to complete if you study full-time. This usually involves completing around 60 credit hours, which includes general education courses and specific subjects related to your major. Part-time students might take longer, depending on their course load each semester.
Some online degree programs offer accelerated options, allowing you to finish in less time by taking more courses per term. Conversely, balancing work, family, or other commitments might extend the duration.
Overall, the flexibility of online college courses allows you to tailor your schedule to fit your personal needs.

How can you make the most out of your 2 year college degree?

To make the most out of your two-year online associate degree, focus on a few key strategies. Engage actively in your online college courses by participating in discussions and connecting with professors and peers. Utilize all available resources, such as tutoring, career services, and academic advising.
Develop strong time-management skills to balance your studies with other responsibilities. Seek internships or part-time jobs in your field to gain practical experience and build your resume. Network through online platforms and professional organizations related to your degree.
Finally, consider your long-term goals and plan whether to transfer credits to a four-year program or enter the workforce directly, ensuring your online AA degree aligns with your career aspirations.

What are the admission requirements of an online AA degree?

To get an online Associate of Arts (AA) degree, you usually need a high school diploma or GED. Some schools may require standardized test scores like the SAT or ACT. You’ll also likely need to submit an application and pay a fee.
Some colleges might ask for letters of recommendation or a personal statement. Once admitted, you’ll need to complete a set number of credit hours, usually around 60, and maintain a certain GPA. Each school may have slightly different requirements, so it’s a good idea to check with the specific college you’re interested in.