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The Main Differences Between an Associates and a Bachelor's Degree


The first step to deciding between an associate degree and a bachelor’s degree is to consider the differences that exist between them. While there are multiple differences between the two paths, which we will discuss in the following paragraphs, it is important to understand that getting either one will help to boost your career significantly if you currently have neither.

Associate Courses Take Less Time to Complete

Although the exact time to complete an associate’s degree may vary from course to course, it can be said without a doubt that getting an AAS degree is much faster than completing a full-time bachelor’s program. While most bachelor’s degree courses take about four years to be completed, an associate’s course could be finished in roughly half that time.

Additionally, the credits from the associates degree can also be utilized to shorten your bachelor’s course, should you decide to complete that as well in the future. You will need to check with your college to understand what their policies are regarding the credit transfer.

Bachelor’s Courses are More Expensive

The education costs in the United Kingdom is not cheap by any means and even bachelor’s degree courses can get quite expensive, depending on the particular program in question. This is where an associate degree has a significant advantage over a bachelor’s degree because the tuition fees are a lot cheaper.

As you can guess, this has a lot to do with the fact that the courses are much shorter as well, but if you are looking for a way to quickly boost your present CV or salary, the AAS is a good place to start. It is recommended that you opt for an online associates degree which has all the necessary affiliations from the concerned governing bodies to further cut down on the expense. Besides, an online associate’s program is perfect for those who need the flexibility to work as well as study simultaneously.

Associate’s Programs Can be of Two Types

Unlike bachelor’s degrees, associate programs can be divided into two main categories as follows.

  1. The general studies approach – This is quite similar to a bachelor’s program, only shorter. If you complete an associate program that takes the general studies approach, the focus will be on credit transfer and the qualification itself. Selecting a main subject is unnecessary in this case.
  2. Specific vocational/technical program – More specific and targeted than the latter, specific vocational or technical associate programs are ideal for those that are looking to enter a specific field of specialised work like nursing for example. It’s also very helpful for working professionals who already have some experience but are looking to improve and enhance their skill set.

The bachelor’s course, on the other hand, isn’t as diverse and generally requires for the student to choose their main subject. If you have already completed an associate’s degree with a general studies approach, the good news is that you will likely be able to skip the first two years of the bachelor’s degree, which involves general education.


By now it should be clear that associate programs have their own unique advantages, but the qualification itself is more like a pre-step before you complete your bachelor’s or go for a graduation degree directly. Now it leaves us with the question, what does it mean in terms of career opportunities?

Associate’s programs are a good way to quick-launch your career into a field which requires technical know-how or skilled labour. You don’t need a bachelor’s degree to get started here, but having said that, it can be useful. For example, even when you are applying for a job which doesn’t need applicants to have a bachelor’s, the ones that do might be favoured nevertheless.

If you are looking to land a job with only an associate’s degree, which has the best prospects in terms of growth, prestige, and salary, you should be looking at fields such as nursing (RN), dental assistantship, coding, engineering technician, police, mechanic, and paralegal. This is an exhaustive list by any means, but it’s meant to give you an idea regarding what to expect.

On the other hand, if you have a bachelor’s degree, the opportunities are vast, and they become even better when you complete a master’s in the same field. Although the opportunities are far too many to list, a few lucrative categories to consider after you complete your undergraduate degree include finance, accounting, engineering, business management and PR.

Now that you know about the main differences between the two, it’s all about your own particular situation. If you can’t go for a bachelor’s right now, opt for an associate’s program in the same field. If you do that, you will always have the opportunity to get the bachelor’s in half the time later on when the time is right, but you will also have boosted your career in the interim.


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