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How do Associate's Degree Credits Compare to Other College Degree Credits?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Often, the subject of comparing associate's degree credits with other college degree credits comes up for individuals who are seeking associate’s degrees and hoping to transfer to a four-year institution later. Associate’s degree credits are usually equal to those obtained in pursuit of another type of degree. The difference typically lies, however, in the number of credits required to obtain an associate’s degree versus the number required for obtaining a bachelor’s or master’s degree. Additionally, community colleges often grant associate’s degrees and may offer courses that result in fewer credits than one might earn while working toward another type of degree.

In general, associate’s degree credits are not different from college degree credits when it comes to comparing the amount of time spent earning a credit. Credits are usually assigned for a course based on the amount of time a person spends in the class or working on classwork. Usually, this is assessed on a weekly basis. For example, a one-credit course usually meets one hour per week while a four-credit course usually meets for four hours each week. This is typically true regardless of whether a person is working on an associate’s degree or another type of credential.

Associate degrees can transfer to most four-year colleges without loss of credits.
Associate degrees can transfer to most four-year colleges without loss of credits.

The main difference in associate’s degree credits and credits provided for other degrees lies in the total number of credits required to earn each degree. For example, some schools require a person to earn 62 credits to obtain an associate’s degree. A person may have to earn twice as many credits, however, to earn a bachelor’s degree. This doesn’t have anything to do with how much each credit is worth.

Associate's degrees require fewer credits than university degree programs.
Associate's degrees require fewer credits than university degree programs.

Another difference in the way associate’s degree credits are handled may involve the number of credits assigned to each class. In many cases, associate’s degree programs often provide slightly fewer credits per class than one might expect to earn in a bachelor’s degree program. For example, a composition course that lasts an entire semester may only provide three credits when someone is working toward an associate’s degree. Often, however, the same type of course in a bachelor’s degree program will result in the granting of four credits instead. Whether this is true, however, typically depends on the school and program in question.

It is worth noting that a three-credit course taken in pursuit of an associate’s degree and a four-credit course taken as part of a bachelor’s degree program are a bit different. The four-credit bachelor’s program course requires more of a time commitment and translates into more work. As such, a four-credit bachelor’s degree course may be seen as more intense than a three-credit course in the subject. An associate’s degree program may offer some four-credit courses, however, and a bachelor’s degree program may offer classes that provide fewer credits as well.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a WiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a WiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

Learn more...

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    • Associate degrees can transfer to most four-year colleges without loss of credits.
      By: Monkey Business
      Associate degrees can transfer to most four-year colleges without loss of credits.
    • Associate's degrees require fewer credits than university degree programs.
      By: pixelrobot
      Associate's degrees require fewer credits than university degree programs.