How Long Does it Take Get an Associate’s Degree (And Why)?

Exact Answer: 2 Years or more

An associate’s degree is evaluated as half of a bachelor’s degree. Community colleges and vocational post-secondary institutions are known to provide these degree programs for interested students. An associate’s degree requires a lower number of credits than a 4-year bachelor’s course. Most associate degree programs stipulate the need to earn 60 credits to acquire the degree.

The flexibility of an associate degree program is the most appealing factor in opting for these degree courses over the traditional college curriculums. Both the efforts needed to achieve the degree as well as the expenses involved are significantly lesser than the conventional university graduate programs.

How Long Does it Take Get an Associates Degree

How Long Does it Take Get an Associate’s Degree?

Most colleges and technical schools offer associate degree courses. The flexibility of the curriculum in an associate degree program is the most distinctive feature of such courses. The time taken to complete such a course will therefore be determined by several causal factors. The rules of the institution, the schedule for the completion of the course, the time dedicated by the student, etc. influence the time frame of completion.

Most institutions require students to secure 60 hours of credits to qualify for the degree. Students can enroll themselves in full-time courses or they may also opt for part-time curriculums. Generally, the stipulated time frame for acquiring an associate’s degree is 2 years. Most students complete the course within a period of 24 months to get the degree.

However, the time frame may be different for students who opt for a more truncated course structure. Students who opt for completing the course on a part-time basis may take longer than 2 years to acquire the degree. Some part-time students may acquire an associate’s degree in 5-6 years.

Similarly, the performance of the individual student also has a significant bearing on the course’s time frame. If a full-time student is able to pass all the papers within the given time period, he will acquire the associate’s degree in 2 years. Alternatively, if a full-time or part-time student is unable to pass all papers in the first attempt, he will have to reappear for those papers. This process of appearing for arrears will prolong the time needed to actually acquire the degree.

In Summary:

Position of the StudentCourse Completion
Full-Time Student (Pass in All Papers)2 years
Full-Time Student (With Arrears in Some Papers)More than 2 years
Part-Time Student (Pass in All Papers)More than 2 years
Part-Time Student (With Arrears in Some Papers)Up to 6 years

Why Does it Take This Long to Get an Associate’s Degree?

The flexibility of pursuing an education is exemplified in the leeway granted to students enrolled in the various associate degree programs across the fields of arts, science, and professional disciplines.

Pursing an associate degree full-time can help reduce the total number of years needed to actually acquire the distinction. This is because a full-time student completes the entire course curriculum within 4 semesters, spanning a total of 2 years. By taking a total of 5 classes every semester, such students can complete the program within the stipulated time frame.

However, there are students enrolled in the associate degree programs who are employed and have a family to look after. This implies that they cannot pursue the course full-time. As part-timers, they complete the same credit hours requirement within a longer period of time. Some of these students opt for 4 or even fewer classes each semester. This increasing the overall time needed to earn the degree.

Moreover, some full-time students cannot always clear course papers on their first attempt. This necessitates supplementary examinations in the subsequent semesters. Such an event will automatically extend the time frame for acquiring the degree. The prolonged time frame will extend to almost 5-6 years for those who are enrolled in the part-time sessions of the program.

One must also cognize the fact that different associate degree courses may require their students to attain extra internship credits, apprentice experiences, etc. This would inevitably prolong the process of completing the course. In such a scenario, the associate’s degree will be awarded to the student only after these special requirements are sufficiently substantiated.


An associate’s degree is a good bridge for those aspiring to pursue a bachelor’s degree in the future. This is because the credits earned in an associate degree program can be transferred to the aspirant’s university or college for the bachelor’s course. This helps save time as well as effort.

The flexible curriculums of these programs help students return to the arena of education after a brief period of hiatus. One can easily earn this degree within a period of 2 short years. The ingenuity of the courses lies in the part-time commitment protocol that allows students to complete the course within a time spectrum ranging from 2 to 6 years.



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