What Classes Do I Need to Get an Associate's Degree?

The classes you'll need to take earn an associate's degree will vary depending on the type of program in which you've enrolled. Typically, you'll need to take around 60 credit hours and meet your program's general education and concentration requirements.

Overview of Associate's Degree Programs

All associate's degree programs are similar in structure. They usually require about 60 credit hours, with half of these being general education classes and the other half being related to your area of study. For example, if you decide to pursue an associate's degree in accounting, many classes will be predetermined and relate to law, taxes and business mathematics, whereas if you decide to earn a general associate's degree in the arts, you'll have more flexibility in choosing your classes and your overall program goals.

General Education Requirements

Regardless of the associate's degree program you enter, you'll have to complete general education requirements to gain a basic competency in foundational areas including math, writing and reading. General education requirements usually include courses in the social sciences, the humanities, mathematics and communication. Most schools give you some choice as to the exact classes you'd like to take in these areas.

Transfer of General Education Classes

Because many students continue their studies in bachelor's degree programs, some states have agreements that facilitate transfer between their 2-year and 4-year public schools; individual colleges and universities may also have similar articulation agreements. In these cases, completing the general education requirements of an associate's degree program will meet the general education requirements of a bachelor's degree program.


Each associate's degree program has a concentration in an area of study with its own course requirements. These requirements focus on topics related to the area of study and help you gain the knowledge and skills you need to work in that field upon graduation. If you chose to study business, for example, your concentration classes might include marketing, management, economics and accounting.


Even though many of your classes will be planned for you, some degree programs leave room for electives, or classes that you choose. In many cases, you'll choose elective classes from a set of approved classes that relate to your area of study. In this way, you can customize your program to meet your specific interests while furthering your knowledge of a broad area of study.

Popular Schools

  • ITT Technical Institute

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  • Sanford-Brown

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      • Associate - Allied Health

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  • Le Cordon Bleu

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