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Associate degree programs are a great short-term training optionfor people who want to move quickly from the classroom to the jobmarket. They’re available at many community and local colleges andoften have course schedules that accommodate working adults.Depending on your field, you can qualify to pursue many entry-leveljobs with an associate degree to your name.

But sometimes, an associate degree is not enough. If you’re anassociate degree holder who’s been working for a while, and you’vedecided it’s time for more training, you might be wondering if youcan count your associate toward a bachelor’s degree. There are nowbachelor’s degree completion programs that can help you build onyour associate degree. These degree completion courses may beavailable online as well as on-campus.

Here is some general information about what you need to knowbefore you enroll in a bachelor’s degree completion program.

All schools accept credit differently

First, you need to make sure that the college or online schoolyou’re planning to apply to will accept your associate degree.Individual colleges and universities have the right to accept orreject your previous credits for any reason, so it’s important todiscuss your situation with a representative at the institution youwant to attend.

If you earned your associate degree at a community college, trycalling a counselor there to find if they have articulationagreements with any colleges or universities. Articulationagreements are a defined set of terms that create a partnershipbetween community colleges and four-year schools. These agreementsexplicitly lay out terms for transferring credits from the two-yearschool to the four-year school to complete a traditional oronline bachelor’sdegree, often by telling you exactly which courses thefour-year school will accept credits from.

Depending on the courses you took, you may need to make upcredits before you can start earning your bachelor’s degree. Thisis especially true if your associate degree was a career degreerather than a transfer degree.

Transfer degrees versus career degrees

Typically, an associate degree program requires about 20courses, or 60 credits to graduate, and involves a mix of generaleducation and career-specific classes. “Transfer degrees” areassociate degree programs designed to prepare a student for abachelor’s degree down the road. To that end, transfer degrees havemore general education requirements built into the curriculum. Ingeneral, if you earned an Associate of Arts, Associate of FineArts, Associate of Arts in Teaching or Associate of Science, you’veearned a transfer degree.

A “career degree” drops most of these general education coursesto focus entirely on training graduates to compete for a specificjob. This degree may be called an Associate of Applied Science,Associate in Occupational Studies or Associate in IndustrialTechnology. You won’t usually undertake enough general educationcourses to count many of the credits earned with one of thesedegrees toward a bachelor’s degree program.

The Associate of Business Administration degree straddles bothworlds: It is generally intended as a career degree, but could beused to transfer to a business degree program at the bachelor levelat some four-year schools.

Claiming non-traditional credit

If you find you need to make up general education courses beforeyou can start your bachelor’s degree completion program, don’t bediscouraged. It’s possible to earn college credit based on materialyou’ve learned in your working life or during military deployment.You’ll have to prove you understand the material at acollege-degree level by taking a standardized test. Testsinclude:

College-Level Examination Program (CLEP): These exams areaccepted by 2,900 colleges and universities in the United States.Depending on the transfer institution (and on your score) CLEPexams can earn you up to three credits per exam. Fees apply, unlessyou are an eligible enlisted military servicemember, militaryveteran, or military family member. CLEP is owned by the CollegeBoard, the company that also administers the SAT to high schoolstudents.

DSST Exams (formerly Dantes Subject Standardized Tests):Prometric designed the DSSTs to offer credit for experientiallearning. About 2,000 colleges accept this alternative creditoption. Fees apply, unless you are an eligible enlisted militaryservicemember, military veteran or military family member.

Before you decide to take any test, make sure the school youwant to attend will accept the credits if you pass. And find outwhat the school’s limit is for accepting non-traditional credits -most schools will only let you pass out of a few classes in certainsubjects this way.

Online bachelor degree completion programs

It’s possible to pursue certain bachelor degree completionprograms online. This adds an extra element of convenience andflexibility to your study. You can access your online classes fromanywhere at any time, enabling you to attend school while you workfull-time or care for family members. Online education offersadditional benefits, such as the ability to play back lectures morethan once, and the opportunity to meet students from all over theworld, as online programs often have a broad geographicalreach.

Whether you decide to study online or on-campus, most bachelordegree completion programs should last about two years, providedyou’ve met all the requirements before hand. Choose a programhosted by a regionally accredited institution – accreditation is avoluntary process that ensures schools maintain a certain level ofquality in their degree programs.

Information in this article was provided by Colorado TechnicalUniversity. Contact CTU today if you’re interested in developingmarketable knowledge and career-relevant skills with anindustry-current degree program. (CTU does not guarantee employmentor salary.)

Courtesy of ARAcontent