An associate degree is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting two years. It is considered to be greater level of education than a high school diploma or GED. The first associate degrees were awarded in the U.K. (where they are no longer awarded) in 1873 before spreading to the U.S. in 1898. They have since been introduced in a small number of other countries.
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Associate_degree