Affordable Online Associate Degrees

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Students pursue online associate degrees for various reasons. Many cite flexibility as one of the main reasons for enrolling in a two-year program rather than a four-year program. Online associate degree programs allow learners to access course materials and participate in class discussions from anywhere. Additionally, many schools offer asynchronous courses, which means degree-seekers can attend class from anywhere at any time.

Associate degree-holders often qualify for entry-level positions. Completing an associate degree means graduates enter the workforce -- and start earning -- much sooner than students in four-year programs. Accredited online two-year programs also provide a sound foundation for further studies.

Although postsecondary institutions confer fewer associate than bachelor's degrees (1.1 million versus two million), the advantages of two-year online programs continue to make them viable options for many American students.

What are the most affortable online associate degrees in 2020?

  1. Southwestern Community College - Sylva, NC
  2. Frontier Community College - Fairfield, IL
  3. Richmond Community College - Hamlet, NC
  4. James Sprunt Community College - Kenansville, NC
  5. Niagara County Community College - Sanborn, NY
  6. Copiah-Lincoln Community College - Wesson, MS
  7. Laramie County Community College - Cheyenne, WY
  8. Lenoir Community College - Kinston, NC
  9. Stanly Community College - Albemarle, NC
  10. Western Piedmont Community College - Morganton, NC

Most Affordable Online Associate Degrees 2020


Students researching the best online colleges for affordable online associate degrees can use this page as a guide.

The schools were evaluated according to several key factors, including accreditation, affordability, accessibility, and available online programs.

Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
1 Southwestern Community College Sylva, NC
$2,213 Tuition
41% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1964, Southwestern Community College offers degree programs in the arts and sciences, career technologies, and health sciences. The school offers many of its programs online, including nine online associate degrees. Students can pursue online associate degrees in areas such as cybercrime technology, medical office administration, and business administration.

While program requirements vary, most online associate degrees feature eight-week classes and require around 60-70 credits. Some online programs include on-campus requirements. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and submit SAT or ACT scores.

2 Frontier Community College Fairfield, IL
$9,743 Tuition
70% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1976, Frontier Community College is part of the Illinois Eastern Community College system. The school offers eight online associate degrees in areas such as certified medical assistant, sport management, and general studies. The school designed some of these programs as standalone degrees and some as transfer degrees to help graduates transition to a bachelor's program.

The programs typically comprise around 60-71 credits and feature fully online coursework, though some programs may require on-campus visits. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and submit SAT or ACT scores.

3 Richmond Community College Hamlet, NC
$2,516 Tuition
23% Graduation Rate

A member of the Carolina Community College System, Richmond Community College combines curriculum community college programs with workforce development programs. RCC has increased its online program offerings by more than 75% since 2010. The school offers eight fully online associate degrees in areas including healthcare management technology, cybersecurity, and accounting and finance. Students can also access a variety of online courses and hybrid programs.

At RCC, online courses run throughout the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Most of the online associate degrees require around 60-70 credits. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and submit SAT or ACT scores. Transfer students need a minimum 2.0 GPA to receive credit for prior academic work.

4 James Sprunt Community College Kenansville, NC
$2,570 Tuition
28% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1960 as a member of the North Carolina Community College System, James Sprunt Community College offers three online associate degrees: an associate of arts, associate of science, and associate of general education.

Most online classes run asynchronously, though some programs may require synchronous components. The online associate degrees comprise around 60-65 credits and offer courses in the fall, spring, and summer. The school features an open-door policy that admits all interested students.

5 Niagara County Community College Sanborn, NY
$4,923 Tuition
29% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1962, Niagara County Community College enrolls more than 5,000 students through over 60 programs, including several online associate degrees. Students can pursue online associate degrees in areas including health studies, psychology, and human services. Programs typically begin in the fall or spring. Many of the programs are designed to help students seamlessly transfer into bachelor's programs.

The programs comprise around 60-70 credits and take about two years of full-time study to complete. Online classes feature a flexible, asynchronous format. Some programs may require campus visits. Applicants need a high school or a GED diploma. Some applicants must submit SAT or ACT scores.

6 Copiah-Lincoln Community College Wesson, MS
$3,180 Tuition
45% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1928, Copiah-Lincoln Community College enrolls more than 3,000 students each year. Students can choose from over 30 online associate programs in the arts and humanities, social sciences, health sciences, education, and business.

Online programs run during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Fall and spring classes may feature eight-week or 16-week sessions. In the summer, classes span four or eight weeks. Online courses typically run asynchronously, but some courses may set scheduled meeting times. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores. Students can transfer up to 45 credits with a minimum 2.0 GPA toward an associate degree.

7 Laramie County Community College Cheyenne, WY
$3,426 Tuition
28% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1968, Laramie County Community College offers more than 85 associate degrees, including several online associate degrees. Online students can earn associate degrees in areas like small business management, early childhood education, and health information technology management. LCCC offers certification tracks in some disciplines.

Online associate programs typically comprise 60-70 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. Most online courses feature an asynchronous format, though some classes may require scheduled sessions. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED score.

8 Lenoir Community College Kinston, NC
$2,558 Tuition
19% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1960, Lenoir Community College hosts more than 16,000 students through diverse on-campus and online programs. The school offers 20 online associate degrees in areas like aviation management, emergency management, and network management.

The programs typically require 60-70 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. Classes run through the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants need a high school diploma or GED score. They may also need to submit SAT or GED scores or complete a placement examination. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

9 Stanly Community College Albemarle, NC
$2,673 Tuition
48% Graduation Rate

Since 1971, Stanly Community College has helped students gain professional training and credentials. The school offers 10 online associate degree programs in areas like human services technology, criminal justice technology, and early childhood education. Programs start in the fall, spring, and summer.

The associate degrees typically require 60-70 credits, and students can study part time or full time. Online courses may span four, eight, 12, or 16 weeks. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and complete a placement test. SCC holds transfer agreements with several four-year universities, allowing associate degree graduates to seamlessly transfer to a bachelor's program.

10 Western Piedmont Community College Morganton, NC
$2,577 Tuition
32% Graduation Rate

A member of the North Carolina Community College System since 1864, Western Piedmont Community College enrolls more than 7,000 students, nearly 60% of whom take online classes. The school offers online associate degrees in business administration, information technology, and paralegal technology. All three programs include core, major, and concentration courses.

Programs start in the fall, spring, and summer, and classes typically span eight weeks. Associate degrees require 65-67 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Transfer applicants may receive credit for courses with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

11 Mid-Plains Community College North Platte, NE
$3,210 Tuition
48% Graduation Rate

Established in 1973, Mid-Plains Community College enrolls more than 16,000 students across seven campuses and online. The school offers five online associate degrees in areas like library technical assistant, business administration, and criminal justice. Graduates can pursue entry-level employment or a bachelor's degree.

Programs typically start in the fall and spring, but classes run through the winter and summer sessions as well. Most courses span eight weeks. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to complete a placement exam. Transfer applicants may receive credit for previous training with a minimum 2.0 GPA.

12 Madisonville Community College Madisonville, KY
$4,248 Tuition
40% Graduation Rate

Established in 1968, Madisonville Community College offers two-year degrees and diplomas to Kentucky residents through five campuses and an online division. MCC offers online associate degrees in areas like mining technology and surgical first assistant. Students typically need a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate.

Classes feature an asynchronous format, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Most programs require around 60-70 credits. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and submit SAT or ACT scores.

13 Roane State Community College Harriman, TN
$4,443 Tuition
35% Graduation Rate

Established in 1971, Roane State Community College hosts over 6,000 students through nine campuses and an online division. Students can choose from three online associate degrees in computer information technology, geographic information systems, and health information management.

The online programs require 60-70 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. Online classes combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores. Graduates can pursue a bachelor's degree or entry-level employment.

14 Vance-Granville Community College Henderson, NC
$1,948 Tuition
28% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1969, Vance-Granville Community College offers more than 40 programs, including 10 online associate degrees. Students can pursue online associate degrees in areas including information technology business support, supply chain management, and medical office administration. Some of the online degrees prepare students to sit for professional certification examinations.

Most online courses run asynchronously, but some synchronous sessions and on-campus visits may be required. The associate degrees typically require 60-70 credits, and students can graduate within two years. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores.

15 Seward County Community College Liberal, KS
$3,200 Tuition
43% Graduation Rate

Established in 1969, Seward County Community College offers more than 45 programs, including five online associate degrees. Online students can pursue associate degrees in areas like chemistry, biology, and business administration.

The online associate degree programs feature mostly asynchronous formats and comprise 64 credits. Programs run throughout the fall, spring, and summer semesters, and full-time learners can graduate in less than two years. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to complete a placement test. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

16 Holmes Community College Goodman, MS
$3,110 Tuition
38% Graduation Rate

Established in 1911, Holmes Community College is one of the largest community colleges in Mississippi, enrolling more than 6,000 students each year. The school offers a variety of online associate degrees in areas including medical office technology, paralegal technology, and medical billing and coding technology. Learners can also pursue individual courses and certificates online.

Online courses run throughout the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Full-time students can graduate within two years. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. The college also helps aspiring bachelor's students acquire the maximum transfer credits after graduation.

17 Shoreline Community College Shoreline, WA
$3,873 Tuition
35% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1964, Shoreline Community College enrolls more than 10,000 students through over 100 programs. The school offers 10 online associate degrees in areas like health information technology, criminal justice, and purchasing and supply chain management,

Online courses at Shoreline feature a flexible, asynchronous format, and enrollees can start during any of the 12-week fall, winter, spring, and summer quarters. Each program requires 90 quarter credits, and full-time learners can graduate in less than two years. Graduates may receive full transfer credits when pursuing a bachelor's degree with a partner institution. Graduates may also qualify to sit for professional certification examinations.

18 Wytheville Community College Wytheville, VA
$4,725 Tuition
35% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1963, Wytheville Community College hosts more than 3,400 students through general education, transfer, and career and technical programs. The school offers an online associate degree in general administrative support technology with an optional legal assistant specialization.

The fully online program features asynchronous courses. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They must also submit SAT or ACT scores or complete a placement test. While out-of-state students pay higher tuition rates than in-state students, nonresident online students receive discounted tuition rates compared to on-campus students.

19 State Fair Community College Sedalia, MO
$4,320 Tuition
47% Graduation Rate

Established in 1968, State Fair Community College hosts seven physical locations and an online division. Students can pursue two fully online associate degrees: a general associate of arts and an associate in business management. Online learners can also complete online degrees with on-campus and local clinical requirements in areas like health information technology, medical assistant, and healthcare specialist.

The online associate degrees require 60-70 credits and feature a mostly asynchronous format. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They must also submit SAT or ACT scores or complete a placement test.

20 Hillsborough Community College Tampa, FL
$2,506 Tuition
30% Graduation Rate

A member of the Florida College System, Hillsborough Community College was founded in 1968 and enrolls more than 47,000 students each year. The school offers 10 online associate degrees in areas like fire science technology, education teacher preparation, and business management.

The online programs feature a mostly asynchronous format, though some may feature synchronous sessions. Classes run in the fall, spring, and summer semesters, and learners usually complete the 60-credit degrees in less than two years. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores. All online students enjoy access to support resources, such as academic advising and career services.

21 Spartanburg Community College Spartanburg, SC
$5,742 Tuition
34% Graduation Rate

Established in 1963, Spartanburg Community College hosts over 5,000 students through more than 70 programs. The school offers an online associate of arts degree that allows graduates to seamlessly transfer into many of the nation's bachelor's programs.

The fully online associate degree requires 60-66 credits. Classes typically begin in the fall, spring, and summer. SCC offers a variety of class schedules, including five-week, 7.5-week, 10-week, and 16-week sessions. Online classes feature an asynchronous format. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Students can transfer up to 75% of a program's required credits toward the degree.

22 Pennsylvania Highlands Community College Johnstown, PA
$8,130 Tuition
18% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1994, Pennsylvania Highlands Community College offers five online associate degrees in areas such as entrepreneurship, paralegal studies, and medical coding and billing. Some programs deliver career-oriented training, while others prepare students to transfer into a bachelor's program.

Most programs require 60-70 credits and feature a flexible, asynchronous format. Some programs offer accelerated timelines that allow students to complete the degree in less than 16 months. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Online learners gain access to student support services and career services.

23 Ulster County Community College Stone Ridge, NY
$5,340 Tuition
31% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1968, Ulster County Community College offers more than 60 programs, including five online associate degrees. Enrollees can pursue associate degrees in areas such as computer science, criminal justice, and individual studies.

Online classes feature an asynchronous format. Some programs offer accelerated pathways that allow students to graduate within 17 months. Most programs start in the fall and spring, but summer and winter sessions are available. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and complete a placement test. Transfer applicants may receive credit for previous training.

24 Hutchinson Community College Hutchinson, KS
$3,520 Tuition
35% Graduation Rate

Established in 1928, Hutchinson Community College hosts more than 5,000 students through diverse online and on-campus programs. The school offers a variety of online associate degrees in areas like art, business administration, biological sciences, and automation engineer technology.

Most classes feature an asynchronous format, but some classes may require scheduled sessions. The 60-credit programs typically run throughout the fall and spring semesters, though some summer sessions may be available. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Some programs may feature additional application requirements.

25 John Wood Community College Quincy, IL
$8,190 Tuition
29% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1974, John Wood Community College offers a variety of online associate degrees. Online students can earn an associate of arts, associate of science, or associate of general studies. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

Online classes feature an asynchronous format. Some classes may require on-site testing, but students can complete the rest of their coursework entirely online. By taking two classes at a time, most students graduate within two years. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma.

26 Genesee Community College Batavia, NY
$4,640 Tuition
38% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1967, Genesee Community College offers more than 65 programs, including over 40 online associate degrees. Students can complete fully online associate degrees in areas like teaching assistant, business administration, and computer systems and network technologies.

Online classes combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery formats. Students can take classes during the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores or complete a placement test. Graduates can seamlessly transfer into bachelor's programs from other State University of New York colleges and universities.

27 Cochise County Community College District Douglas, AZ
$2,040 Tuition
36% Graduation Rate

One of the first community colleges in Arizona, Cochise County Community College District was founded in 1964. The school enrolls more than 10,000 students in over 90 programs, including eight online associate degrees. Online students can pursue associate degrees in areas including economics, computer programming, and intelligence operations studies.

Online classes typically span eight weeks and feature an asynchronous format. Programs start in the fall, spring, and summer. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Graduates can seamlessly transfer to a variety of in-state and out-of-state bachelor's programs.

28 Brunswick Community College Bolivia, NC
$2,532 Tuition
44% Graduation Rate

Established in 1979, Brunswick Community College offers more than 80 programs, including 14 online associate degrees. Students can pursue online associate degrees in areas like early childhood education, criminal justice technology, and health and fitness science.

Online programs require 60-70 credits and feature mostly asynchronous formats. Some programs may require on-campus visits or on-site testing. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They also need to submit SAT or ACT scores or complete a placement test. Online learners gain access to library and career development resources.

29 Kirtland Community College Roscommon, MI
$5,880 Tuition
32% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1966, Kirtland Community College offers more than 35 programs, including five online associate degrees in areas such as business administration, cybersecurity, and health information technology. Most programs require 60-70 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete.

Online programs feature a mostly asynchronous format. Some programs require an on-campus orientation at the beginning of the program. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to submit SAT or ACT scores or complete a placement test. Online learners gain access to the school's student and career support resources.

30 St Clair County Community College Port Huron, MI
$8,178 Tuition
26% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1923, St. Clair County Community College offers eight online associate degrees in areas like marketing, management, and computer information systems. Some degrees offer concentrations and some offer seamless transfers to bachelor's programs.

Classes combine asynchronous and synchronous components. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They may also need to complete an assessment test and/or satisfy additional requirements. Online students gain access to academic and career advising services.

31 Middlesex Community College Bedford, MA
$6,110 Tuition
35% Graduation Rate

Established in 1970, Middlesex Community College hosts over 12,000 students through more than 70 programs, including over 10 fully online associate degrees in areas including fashion merchandising, hospitality management, and fire protection and safety technology. MCC also offers a variety of hybrid programs that students can complete partially online.

Online associate programs typically require 60-70 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. Some programs may require students to complete labs or clinical components on campus. Classes feature a mostly asynchronous format. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and complete a placement test.

32 Surry Community College Dobson, NC
$2,540 Tuition
19% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1964, Surry Community College enrolls more than 18,000 students in over 45 programs, including eight online associate degrees. Online students can pursue associate degrees in areas like digital media technology, medical office administration, and management information systems. Most programs require 60-70 credits and take two years of full-time study to complete.

The programs feature a mostly asynchronous format, but some classes may require scheduled sessions. Courses run throughout the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. Some programs may feature additional application requirements. SCC provides free online tutoring for students through a third-party service.

33 Lansing Community College Lansing, MI
$6,680 Tuition
25% Graduation Rate

One of the largest community colleges in Michigan, Lansing Community College enrolls more than 23,000 students through over 200 programs, including four online associate degrees. Online students can pursue associate degrees in areas such as e-business, psychology, and sociology.

The fully online programs feature mostly asynchronous formats. Classes typically start in the fall and spring and span 8-16 weeks. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They must also submit SAT or ACT scores or complete an assessment test. Graduates can seamlessly transfer to a variety of in-state and out-of-state bachelor's programs.

34 Clinton Community College Plattsburgh, NY
$6,222 Tuition
21% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1969, Clinton Community College hosts more than 2,500 students through over 30 programs, including eight online associate degrees. CCC students can pursue online associate degrees in areas like health services management, computer information systems, and business accounting. Most degrees run entirely online, but some may feature on-campus requirements.

Classes run throughout the fall, spring, and summer. Applicants need a high school or GED diploma. They must also submit SAT or ACT scores or complete a placement test. Graduates can seamlessly transfer to a variety of bachelor's programs.

35 Richland Community College Decatur, IL
$6,060 Tuition
30% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1972, Richland Community College offers two online associate degrees: an associate of arts and an associate of science. The programs offer concentrations in areas such as psychology, history, and English. Graduates can seamlessly transfer to a variety of in-state and out-of-state bachelor's programs.

Most online courses feature a flexible asynchronous format, allowing students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. Both online degrees require 60 credits and a minimum 2.0 GPA to graduate. Applicants must hold a high school or GED diploma and submit SAT or ACT scores.

36 Waubonsee Community College Sugar Grove, IL
$8,334 Tuition
19% Graduation Rate

A public institution founded in 1966, Waubonsee Community College emphasizes personal, experiential learning in its programs. On campus in Sugar Grove, Illinois or through the college's online associate programs, students can earn a college degree at an affordable price at WCC.

WCC offers online majors in anthropology, biology, chemistry, and astronomy. The college also offers programs in education and early childhood education, which prepares graduates for jobs as a childcare worker or teacher's assistant. Programs in geography, health information technology, and sustainability also prepare learners for the workforce or advanced studies. For example, the associate program in website development trains students to create web content.

Many programs at WCC offer a transfer route in which students meet general education requirements for a bachelor's degree through the community college. This option helps students save money on tuition while pursuing a four-year degree.

37 Washtenaw Community College Ann Arbor, MI
$4,104 Tuition
40% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1965, Washtenaw Community College operates as a public institution in Ann Arbor, Michigan. At WCC, students can earn an online associate degree in over 25 programs. These flexible programs help students prepare for a new career or to advance their current career.

At WCC, students can transfer into a four-year college or university after completing an online associate degree, which saves them a significant amount on tuition costs. For example, the general studies or liberal arts transfer programs at WCC meet the general education requirements for many bachelor's programs. The general studies option lets students customize an interdisciplinary program around their interests.

Distance learners also study accounting, business administration, management, and secondary education at WCC. The college offers financial aid and credit for prior learning, and many classes provide free online textbooks.

38 Ozarks Technical Community College Springfield, MO
$4,640 Tuition
29% Graduation Rate

A public institution in Springfield, Missouri, Ozarks Technical Community College offers degrees on campus and through OTC Online. OTC offers courses on an eight-week, 14-week, or 16-week schedule while providing support and resources for online learners and delivering all coursework asynchronously.

OTC's online programs include degrees in business and marketing, behavioral science, English, and fire service administration. Students can also earn an online business degree to learn foundational business practices and skills. OTC's degrees in criminal justice, social work, and teaching prepare graduates for careers requiring an associate degree or for transfer into bachelor's programs.

In addition to offering flexible programs, OTC prioritizes affordability. OTC charges only a fraction of typical four-year college tuition.

39 Columbus State Community College Columbus, OH
$4,284 Tuition
38% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1963, Columbus State Community College offers on-campus degrees from its Columbus, Ohio, campus. In addition, CSCC offers online associate degrees as one of the best online colleges. CSCC offers hundreds of online colleges, allowing students to pursue dozens of degrees online. Students receive personalized attention while earning a degree on their schedule at CSCC.

CSCC offers an associate of arts degree for students interested in a four-year degree. The program meets the general education requirement for many bachelor's programs, allowing students to lower tuition costs on their degree. CSCC also offers online associate programs in business management, criminal justice, accounting, and supply chain management.

In addition to programs commonly offered at other online colleges, CSCC provides unique programs like associate degrees in digital design and graphics and digital photography. Degree options at CSCC also include geographic information systems, health information management technology, sport management, and recreation and leisure studies.

40 Piedmont Community College Roxboro, NC
$2,544 Tuition
31% Graduation Rate

Located in Roxboro, North Carolina, Piedmont Community College operates as a public institution. Through PCC's distance learning programs, students can earn an associate degree online. PCC primarily delivers online coursework asynchronously, providing maximum flexibility. The community college offers a significant tuition discount for North Carolina residents.

At PCC, distance learners seeking a bachelor's degree can earn an associate of arts or an associate of science designed for college transfer. During the program, students take core classes and pre-major courses designed around their college major. After completing the online degree, graduates transfer into a four-year college to earn a bachelor's degree. This option can save students thousands in tuition costs.

PCC also offers online associate programs in accounting and finance, business administration, early childhood education, human services, and public safety administration.

41 Cuyahoga Community College Cleveland, OH
$4,322 Tuition
17% Graduation Rate

The oldest community college in Ohio, Cuyahoga Community College offers degrees from its Cleveland campus. Tri-C also provides online associate degree programs for students who require a flexible schedule. Many programs deliver coursework synchronously, meaning online learners connect with faculty members and fellow students through live webinars and lectures.

Online programs at Tri-C include degrees in applied business that provide career-ready training in many areas. For example, students can earn a degree in captioning and court reporting to pursue careers in the justice system. Tri-C also offers a focus in programming and development for learners interested in tech careers. In addition, online students can pursue a business management degree with a concentration in international business.

Tri-C supports students through free online tutoring services. Advising and counseling services help learners meet graduation requirements and prepare for careers after graduation.

42 Central Community College Grand Island, NE
$3,000 Tuition
29% Graduation Rate

Located in Grand Island, Nebraska, Central Community College also operates campuses and learning centers throughout the region. CCC offers online associate degrees for students who require a flexible learning format.

At CCC, distance learners take courses through the college's virtual campus, which reports over 15 years of experience in online learning. Students choose from 22 degrees, including associate degrees in business administration, business technology, health information management services, and quality technology. These programs prepare graduates for the workforce or for further education.

CCC offers two academic transfer options: an associate of arts and an associate of science designed to meet the general education requirements for bachelor's programs. By paying community college tuition rates for two years, students save on the cost of a bachelor's degree. CCC offers a tuition discount to Nebraska residents.

43 Forsyth Technical Community College Winston-Salem, NC
$2,199 Tuition
23% Graduation Rate

A public institution in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Forsyth Technical Community College offers programs for students interested in earning an associate degree online. All distance learners at Forsyth Tech complete an orientation to learn more about the online learning environment, success strategies, and computer skills.

At Forsyth Tech, students can earn an associate of arts designed for college transfer. The program includes general education requirements and saves students money by charging a lower tuition rate than four-year colleges and universities. Distance learners can also pursue an associate degree in business administration, with concentration options in import-export compliance, international business, and logistics management.

Forsyth Tech also offers online degrees in criminal justice technology, emergency management, entrepreneurship, healthcare management technology, and project management technology. The college supports distance learners through career services and a student success center.

44 Walla Walla Community College Walla Walla, WA
$4,455 Tuition
37% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1967 in the foothills of the Blue Mountains, Walla Walla Community College grants degrees from its 130-acre campus in eastern Washington. WWCC also offers online associate degrees that prepare graduates for in-demand careers or for a bachelor's program. The associate of arts transfer degree, for example, lets students complete general education coursework through WWCC before transferring into a four-year school.

WWCC also offers a human and social services transfer program and a business administration degree that introduces students to foundational business concepts. Graduates can transfer into a bachelor of business administration program. Distance learners build technical skills through the turf management degree, which prepares graduates for entry-level and mid-level positions in the turf maintenance industry.

WWCC supports distance learners through the Advising and Counseling Center, which offers advising appointments by phone. Completion coaches help online students access resources and complete their degree.

45 Northeast State Community College Blountville, TN
$4,248 Tuition
19% Graduation Rate

A public institution in Blountville, Tennessee, Northeast State Community College offers online associate programs for students seeking a flexible schedule. At Northeast State, online learners can select from an associate of science general degree or an associate of science in sociology degree. These degrees prepare graduates for careers that require an associate degree and also meet the transfer requirements for many four-year colleges and universities.

In the general associate degree online at Northeast State, students take courses in English composition, communication, macroeconomics, and statistics. The curriculum also includes coursework in biology, American literature, U.S. history, and psychology.

At Northeast State, students can complete a fully online program or mix their online courses with on-campus classes. Distance learners are eligible for financial aid. Northeast State supports online learners through the Advising Resource Center, which offers academic, career, and transfer advising.

46 Lincoln Land Community College Springfield, IL
$6,480 Tuition
41% Graduation Rate

From its campus in Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln Land Community College offers online and on-campus diplomas, certificates, and associate degrees. LLCC also offers online associate programs that prepare graduates for careers in several fields or to transfer into a bachelor's program.

At LLCC, distance learners pursue degrees in accounting, business administration, criminal justice, and liberal arts. The computer information systems program offers tracks in programming, networking, computer science, and cybersecurity. Online students at LLCC can also earn a degree in philosophy, psychology, or sociology. Some programs require at least one on-campus course.

Distance learning programs at LLCC help students reach their education and career goals while balancing school with work or family responsibilities. LLCC supports online learners through its Center for Academic Success, which operates a learning lab.

47 Suffolk County Community College Selden, NY
$5,792 Tuition
19% Graduation Rate

Founded in 1959, Suffolk County Community College enrolls 26,000 students as a public institution in Selden, New York. In addition to its on-campus programs, Suffolk offers associate degrees online. These programs let students earn a college degree without ever visiting campus.

Suffolk offers career options and transfer options for several of its online programs. For example, accounting majors can choose a track focused on career-ready skills or a track that meets the general education requirements for a bachelor's degree in accounting. Suffolk also offers career and transfer tracks in business administration, in addition to concentrations in marketing and management.

Distance learners also earn degrees in criminal justice, psychology, mathematics, or sociology at Suffolk. The humanities associate program includes concentrations in English, philosophy, foreign language, creative writing, and cinema studies. In addition to fully online associate degrees, Suffolk offers hybrid programs.

48 Edgecombe Community College Tarboro, NC
$2,640 Tuition
41% Graduation Rate

A public institution founded in 1967, Edgecombe Community College operates from a 120-acre campus outside of Tarboro, North Carolina. ECC also offers associate degrees online. ECC's distance learners benefit from access to the library, student services, and the bookstore.

ECC offers online associate programs in accounting, business administration, health information technology, and geospatial technology. The business administration curriculum introduces students to core business concepts in accounting, economics, management, and marketing. The degree prepares graduates for careers in business.

Students can also pursue a college transfer degree online at ECC. The community college offers an associate in arts and an associate in science program designed for students seeking a bachelor's degree. In addition to its fully online courses, ECC offers hybrid courses where students complete some requirements online with regular in-person meetings. ECC delivers online coursework asynchronously.

49 Cayuga County Community College Auburn, NY
$5,290 Tuition
29% Graduation Rate

Part of the State University of New York system, Cayuga County Community College dates back to 1953. From its campus in Auburn, Cayuga offers on-campus and online associate degrees.

Cayuga offers online programs in business administration, event and tourism management, and liberal arts and science. Within the liberal arts and science program, students can concentrate in literature, psychology, writing, or mathematics and science. These programs offer a strong foundation for students planning to transfer into a bachelor's program.

Distance learners can also earn a criminal justice degree with concentrations in police or corrections. In addition to fully online programs, Cayuga offers hybrid programs in computer information systems and mathematics. Cayuga's online students can access veteran's services, transfer services, and career services.

50 Northwest Iowa Community College Sheldon, IA
$6,120 Tuition
34% Graduation Rate

A public college located in Sheldon, Iowa, Northwest Iowa Community College grants degrees from its 269-acre campus. NCC also offers online associate degrees for students seeking a flexible learning environment. Distance learners choose from over 750 courses at NCC and can complete a fully online degree or a hybrid program.

Online associate degree programs at NCC include options in business, accounting, and business management. Students can also choose a concentration in financial and insurance services. NCC also offers online degrees in agriculture, healthcare management, virtual administration management, and web and graphic design. The web and graphic design program blends artistic skills and technological applications, preparing graduates to design and manage websites.

NCC helps students save money on tuition by offering several transfer programs designed for students considering a bachelor's degree. After earning an associate degree, graduates can enter the workforce or transfer into a four-year college or university. Online learners pay a flat tuition rate regardless of their state residency.


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What Are the Highest Paying Online Associate Degrees?

Online associate degrees can lead to jobs with higher entry-level salaries than the current national median wage of $38,640. Associate degree-holders in the field of computer science and engineering can earn an early career salary of $40,600, while physician assistants can earn as much as $55,600 per year. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that educational attainment directly impacts salaries. For example, associate degree-holders earn about 18% more than high school graduates with no college education ($836 and $712 in median weekly earnings, respectively).

Major Median Early-Career Salary Median Mid-Career Salary
Physician Assistant Studies $55,600 $98,300
Radiation Therapy $61,400 $93,300
Software Engineering $48,100 $90,700
Project Management $48,900 $89,300
Computer Science and Engineering $40,600 $83,700

Source: PayScale

What Are the Most Popular Associate Degrees to Earn?

Business

An associate degree in business allows students to develop a range of skills that they can apply to jobs in banking, accounting, medical insurance billing, or finance. This degree also helps graduates start or expand their own business.

Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, and Firefighting

Jobs in this sector range from administrative work to on-the-ground positions. An accredited associate program can provide students with the knowledge base and skills to establish a career in either arena, while also laying the foundation for further education, advanced training, and special certification.

Health Professions and Related Programs

The healthcare field needs workers at virtually every professional level, making an associate degree an excellent starting point. Associate degree-holders can begin as caregivers, licensed practical nurses (LPNs), or healthcare administrative assistants.

Liberal Arts and Sciences, General Studies, and Humanities

An associate in liberal arts typically allows students to choose a concentration in a field such as business administration, criminal justice, accounting, or hospitality management. Graduates can usually find entry-level employment in an area related to their concentration.

Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services

There are computer and IT jobs in nearly every professional arena. An associate degree in this field prepares students to tackle jobs in computer programming, hardware configuration, software design, and installation. Graduates can further specialize by working for different types of industry-recognized certifications.

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Are Online Associate Degrees Cheaper?

Pursuing an associate degree online often yields significant savings since learners do not incur lodging, transportation, food, and other on-campus expenses. However, online learning comes with its own list of expenses, some of which you can learn more about below.

Tuition

How much your online associate degree costs largely depends on your chosen school. Public institutions charge less than private for-profit and private nonprofit schools. Sometimes states enter into a reciprocity agreement that allows online out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition when they pursue a degree that is not offered in their home state. Some states simply charge online learners the same tuition as resident enrollees, no matter where they live.

Type of School Average Tuition and Fees
Public Institutions $3,600
Private Nonprofit $17,800
Private For-Profit $14,200

Source: National Center for Education Statistics

Housing and Transportation Costs

As on-campus housing and boarding costs continue to rise, online programs present a cheaper alternative. Not having to pay for additional housing and transportation over a two-year period can result in substantial savings. However, keep in mind that some online programs require students to spend a portion of time on campus. Courses with laboratory components usually require periodic onsite presence.

Additionally, some schools only administer tests in person or require learners to come to campus for orientation or special presentations. Be sure to check whether your desired online associate program features any onsite requirements.

Distance Learning Fees

Some two- and four-year institutions charge online enrollees distance learning fees, which is the same as the technology fee for many schools. However, some schools treat these costs separately. They charge all students a technology fee whether they are enrolled off or on campus and require online students to pay an additional distance learning fee. Some schools collect a flat one-time distance/technology fee at the beginning of each enrollment period, while others charge students a per-credit fee.

Broadband Internet and Computer Expenses

Most schools expect students pursuing an associate degree online to have their own computers and pay for their own internet service. For classes that require special software, students must often cover the expense on their own. Schools offering online programs install firewalls for the protection of their internal systems. However, they hold students accountable for the protection of their personal computers. Some schools require degree-seekers to install antivirus software or pay for some type of online security service.

Can You Get Financial Aid for Online Associate Programs?

Students pursuing an associate degree online can usually apply to the same financial assistance programs as their on-campus counterparts. However, this holds true only if they enroll in an accredited institution. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) channels federal college funds solely through accredited two- and four-year institutions.

Types of Financial Aid Available for Online Associate Students

Scholarships

Scholarship funds usually come from businesses, special-interest groups, college departments, alumni, or community organizations. Scholarship programs typically require applicants to meet some type of criteria, such as exceptional athletic ability or outstanding academic performance. Some scholarship programs cater to applicants from specific ethnic backgrounds or group affiliations.

Grants

Like scholarships, grants do not require repayment. However, most grant monies come from federal programs that are channeled directly through accredited colleges and universities for disbursement to qualified applicants. Grant programs are often based on financial need and reserved for in-state applicants only.

Work-Study

Work-study programs provide another source of funding for both undergraduate and graduate students. Whenever possible, schools place students in work settings that align with their academic field of study, thus simultaneously providing financial aid (in terms of wages) and relevant work experience.

Loans

The ED supports several low-interest student loan programs. Degree-seekers can apply for these loans by completing the FAFSA. Students can often defer loan payments until after graduation. The ED offers loan forgiveness programs for some professionals such as teachers, social workers, and nurses.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Associate Degree Online?

Learners typically take two years to earn an online associate degree. However, this timeline depends on several factors, including students' educational background and enrollment status. For example, if you completed a one-year nursing diploma and you currently practice as an LPN, you may only need one year to complete an associate degree in nursing.

High School Preparation

You can prepare for your associate program while still in high school. Some associate programs feature minimum GPA requirements, so maintaining good grades in high school can give you an edge over other applicants. Enrolling in AP classes and achieving high marks demonstrates your academic abilities, discipline, and determination. In addition, some schools credit qualified AP classes toward an associate degree. You may end up taking fewer courses, which can save you time and money in the long run.

Year 1

The first year of an associate program usually covers general education courses such as English, composition, mathematics, and history. An associate in science program may include more science courses, while an associate in arts degree often includes language courses.

Academic counselors typically advise students who plan to continue to a four-year bachelor's program to enroll in more general education courses rather than major-specific classes. On the other hand, students who plan to enter the workforce after completing their associate program may want to enroll in classes directly related to their concentration area. Doing so provides them with ample training and prepares them for immediate employment.

Year 2

During the second year of an associate program, most students enroll in classes directly connected to their major. The second year of study prepares learners for licensure, if required. For example, nursing students in their second year enroll in classes that prepare them to take the National Council for Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses. Students who plan to enroll in a four-year undergraduate program after graduation often prepare for the transfer during their second year of enrollment in an associate program. Be sure to check the transfer credit policy of the receiving school to ensure that you meet transfer requirements.

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Transferring to a Bachelor's Degree Program

Every school follows a transfer credit policy that supports their academic objectives. Therefore, students transferring from an associate program to a bachelor's program should understand a prospective school's transfer policy. Several factors can affect the transfer process, including the location of the receiving school (interstate transfers are sometimes more complex) and whether or not the receiving institution observes a transfer credit limit. Additionally, some four-year schools impose GPA restrictions on transfer credits, accepting only courses for which the applicant received the minimum specified grade.

Most regionally accredited schools only accept transfer credits from a school with the same type of accreditation. While most schools provide information about transferring credits on their website, you can learn more by contacting admission offices directly.

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