Associate's degree is a degree, which is awarded after two years of study at a college or university. This term originates from the United States, but today the Associate's degree is also awarded in some other countries: for example, in Canada (British Columbia), Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and the Netherlands. As a rule, students do not stop at the Associate's degree. After obtaining a degree, you can study for two more years and get a bachelor's degree. However, there are areas in which obtaining an associate's degree is enough to build a successful career. Some US educational institutions like community colleges only award Associate's degrees. Classes usually start in September and January.

Benefits of obtaining an Associate's degree

  • By obtaining an Associate's degree, you can find a job and continue your education if necessary;
  • Colleges that train associates often have agreements with universities. Under such agreements, graduates have the opportunity to transfer to bachelor’s studies at the appropriate university, bypassing the complex admission procedure. This, for example, can help students who have not scored enough points for the SAT exam (a standardized test required for admission to higher education institutions in the USA) to enter a prestigious university;
  • Many educational institutions exempt international students from passing TOEFL if they already have an associate’s degree. In addition, during the training program, you can take an English course;
  • The cost of studying at community colleges is much lower than at other colleges or universities in the United States. Many students first receive an Associate's degree, and then complete 2 years of bachelor’s studies, thereby significantly reducing the total cost of study;
  • Classes for the associate degree program are held in small groups of 15-20 people, so teachers always pay attention to each student in the group;
  • Students receiving an associate degree at a higher educational institution can live on campus and use the entire infrastructure of the university, including special foreign student support services created at major universities and colleges in the United States.

In what specialties can I get an Associate's degree?

There are several types of Associate's degrees:
  • AA (Associate of Arts) is awarded in the field of arts (more precisely — the humanities);
  • AS (Associate of Science) — in the field of natural sciences;
  • AAA (Associate of Applied Arts) — in the field of applied arts;
  • AAS (Associate of Applied Science) — in the field of applied sciences.
  • Individual variants may also exist: AAS, AAB, ABA, AAT, AAET, AE, AEng, AF, AGS, AIT, AN, AOS, AS-CAD, AT.
The main areas of study for Associate's degrees are: business, commerce, data processing technologies, medical services (in the USA, obtaining an associate degree for subsequent work as a nurse is especially in demand), engineering, and natural sciences.

Requirements for admission to an Associate's degree program


  • Many educational institutions do not accept foreign students under the age of 17. But still this rule does not apply to all educational institutions. There are colleges where Associate's degree programs have been taking students as young as 16 years old;
  • Sometimes foreign applicants are required to successfully pass TOEFL or IELTS, but this is a rather rare occurrence;
  • To apply for the program, you need to provide a certificate of a completed secondary education.
Associate's degree
Duration of study2 years
VariationsAA, AS, AAS, AAB, ABA, AAT, AAET, AE, AEng, AF, AGS, AIT, AN, AOS, AS-CAD, AT
Previous cycleSecondary education (the equivalent of a local) / Foundation Program
Next cycleBachelor's (3rd year)
CountriesUnited States, South Korea, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands