General Education Associate Degree Overview
If you're unsure about what major or subject area you'd like to pursue, a general-education associate's degree program allows you to explore your options while earning credits toward a higher degree. A general-education associate's degree can often be transferred to a 4-year bachelor's degree program. Learn about program options and classes, along with data about how earning a degree can improve your job prospects.
What Is a General-Education Associate's Degree Program Like?
Some schools refer to these programs as transfer programs. You take courses in a broad range of subjects, including math, English, science and more. Typically, it takes about two years of full-time study to earn an associate's degree.
Many community colleges and technical schools offer these programs to meet the general-education requirements of nearby 4-year universities. This allows you to transfer your credits into a bachelor's degree program when you're ready. You may find programs that offer flexible scheduling or online courses, allowing you to work while earning your degree. There are also limited online program options for a general-education associate's degree.
|Online Degrees||Associate's degrees can be earned online|
|Common Courses||General course studies, including math, computer science, English composition|
|Other Requirements||Elective courses such as physical education may be required|
|Career Options||Entry-level job positions with more earning potential than with only a high school diploma|
|Job Outlook (2019-2029)||8% growth (for web developers)*|
|Median Salary (2020)||$77,200 (for web developers)*|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
What Courses Will I Take?
In a general-education associate's degree program, you take courses in a wide variety of subjects to gain basic knowledge required for university-level bachelor's degree programs. Topics often include biology, science, economics, math, geography and sociology. You also take English, history, philosophy and other humanities courses. Computer science and business courses are usually required, too.
This broad array of courses gives you a solid foundation of skills in many areas. You learn how to write for the workplace and school, understand practical mathematical functions, think critically and use computers. These skills are valued in both academia and the workforce. If you take online courses, you may use your school's Internet-based classroom interface to submit assignments and collaborate with classmates. Regular school deadlines and exam dates usually apply, but you can complete coursework on your own time.
What Can I Do With This Degree?
General-education associate's degree programs are appropriate if you know you want to pursue higher education but aren't sure what you'd like to study. It's also a cost-effective way of earning lower-level general-education credits that bachelor's degree programs typically require. While not all general-education associate's degree programs guarantee successful transfer to 4-year programs, many schools have arranged guaranteed transfers with nearby universities.
A general-education associate's degree can help you secure employment, too. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), those with higher education showed higher earnings than people with only a high school diploma from 2000-2018 (www.nces.ed.gov). The NCES report showed that people with a high school diploma earned a median of $27,900 per year, while those with a bachelor's degree earned a median of $34,900 as of 2018.