Learn How to Earn an Associates Degree Online

Prospective students interested in pursuing an undergraduate education have various options available online. Online associate degrees are among them.

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When Roberto Rodriguez of Virginia saw that Pennsylvania State University—World Campus provided this type of accreditation, he decided to apply.

“I never believed I’d have the opportunity to acquire a degree,” Rodriguez adds. “Once I got admitted to Penn State and saw that I would have that opportunity, I wanted to have something in my hands – I wanted to have a diploma to be able to look at and say, ‘Hey, I accomplished this; I finished this.'”

Rodriguez, now 41, finished the online associate degree program while serving on active service in the military for several years.

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on for my bachelor’s,” he recalls, “so it kind of bought me time to think about it.” He received his online associate degree in letters, arts, and sciences in 2018 and then went on to earn his online bachelor’s degree in digital journalism and media from the same university, which he completed this year. He expects to leave the Marine Corps at the end of the year and be accepted into multiple online masters programs in sports management at several colleges.


Online associate degrees are available at both community colleges and four-year universities. Here are some facts concerning this academic certificate that potential students should be aware of.

What Exactly Is an Associate Degree?

According to Caroline Simpson, vice president of student and alumni relations of the online, for-profit American Public University System, which offers associate degrees, an associate degree can serve as a beginning point for someone interested in eventually pursuing a full bachelor’s degree. According to experts, the credential can also assist a person in developing in their job.

“The simplest way to think of it is that it’s effectively half a bachelor’s degree,” Simpson adds.

“It might be the first two years of a bachelor’s education, or it can be a terminal degree in a career or technical program,” says Tiffany Ray, vice president of student services at Germanna Community College in Virginia, which provides online associate degrees.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Associate Degree Online?

According to experts, associate degrees usually take around two years to finish for many full-time on-campus students, but bachelor’s degrees often take about four.

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