How Does an Online Associate Program Work?

Those who would like to pursue a short-term, post-secondary degree may be interested in an online associate degree program. With an associate degree, graduates may enter the workforce or continue their studies and earn a bachelor's degree. Read on for more information about how an associate degree program works.

Online Associate Program Overview

Online associate degree programs are designed for students who would like to pursue a post-secondary degree but are unable or unwilling to commit to on-campus study. Working professionals who are unable to leave their jobs may find online programs to be a convenient option. These programs generally allow students to complete their coursework entirely online and at their own pace. Most associate degree programs can be completed in two years or less.

Important Facts about Online Associate Programs

Degree Fields of Study Many areas of study are available, such information technology, business administration, and health and sciences.
Concentrations Varies depending on major
Continuing Education Credits are transferable to bachelor's programs
Possible Careers Vary depending on major. For example, a minimum of an associate's in nursing is required to begin a career as a nurse.

Completing Coursework

Students enrolled in online associate programs receive and complete their coursework electronically; therefore, students who are interested in such a program must have a computer with high-speed Internet access. Coursework and lectures are accessed online, allowing students to work on class assignments as their schedule permits. Once completed, work is submitted electronically to the professor, and students may begin working on the next assignment. The curriculum of most online associate's degree programs matches the curriculum offered through on-campus degree programs.


Most online associate's degree programs require students to complete several hours of general education coursework, including English composition and psychology. Students then complete a particular number of courses required for their major. Candidates may also have the opportunity to choose a certain number of elective classes and internship opportunities.


Most online associate programs offer students the ability to interact virtually with fellow classmates and faculty. By using message forums, e-mail and chat software, students can communicate with the professor about questions or concerns they may have about a course lecture or assignment. These forums may also be used for discussion among students.


Some online associate degree programs allow students to complete exams at home and submit them electronically. In such cases, students log into an online system so that the exams can be timed. Other programs require students to take exams at a testing site under the supervision of a proctor, ensuring that the exams are completed honestly.

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