Cost and Length of Associates Degree Programs

There are many advantages to getting an associate degree online, from the flexibility of working at your own pace to the ability to earn a quality education from the convenience of your own home. But some students are still uncertain about the costs and time commitment required to obtain an associate degree.

The length of time required to get an associate degree is half that needed to obtain a bachelor’s degree: If you’re going to school full-time, you can earn an associate degree in two years instead of the four you’d need for a bachelor’s. However, it’s important to remember that the speed with which you can earn your associate degree will be affected if you’re working a full-time job while attending school online, meaning it might take three years to obtain the degree. However, certain online institutions offer fast-track programs designed to work with your job and also let you graduate in a timely fashion. Each online college and university is different, so you’ll need to check with the admissions office or degree counselors to determine what your best path would be.

Online institutions also vary in cost, though it’s not uncommon for an associate degree to wind up costing between $25,000 and $30,000. For instance, Kaplan University charges $353 per credit hour for most of its associate degrees, so a 90-hour associate degree will cost $31,770. That’s a good estimate for what you should be prepared to pay to earn an associate degree, but you’ll be able to defray some of those costs if you work while attending school.

You should also keep in mind that financial aid is often available. For example, many employers participate in tuition reimbursement programs that will provide you with financial assistance if your associate degree is related to your job. It’s also a good idea to fill out the FAFSA — the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — to see what kind of federal scholarships, loans, and grants for which you might be eligible. Getting your associate degree online is a serious undertaking, and though the work will be entirely in your hands, you aren’t necessarily alone when it comes to paying for your education. By talking to your school and applying for scholarships, the two or three years you spend getting your degree won’t be nearly as big a burden as some might think.