Do You Need an Associate’s Degree to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

By Dr. Brianna Anderson
Edited by Briana Sukert
Updated on July 4, 2024
Edited by Briana Sukert
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Do you need an associate’s degree to get a bachelor’s degree? This question is often asked by people researching undergraduate degree programs.

Do You Need Associate’s Degree to Get a Bachelor’s Degree

An associate’s degree typically takes 2 years to complete and introduces students to foundational concepts and skills in their chosen major. A bachelor’s degree covers more in-depth knowledge and usually takes 4 years to finish.

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This article explores the differences between these two degrees, the benefits of earning an associates degree, and whether this degree is necessary to earn a bachelors.

Do You Need an Associate’s Degree to Get a Bachelor’s Degree?

students taking their bachelors degree

Do you have to get your associate’s before bachelors? No, you don’t need an associate’s degree before enrolling in a bachelors program.

Many people pursue their bachelors degrees immediately after graduating high school or finishing their GED. There can be several benefits, though, to earning an associate’s degree before starting a bachelor’s program, including:

  • Career exploration. An associate’s degree can be a strategic way to investigate potential career paths before committing to a bachelor’s program. Say you’re interested in a business career, but you’re not sure which area you want to focus on. An associate’s program lets you to take foundational classes like accounting, economics, and marketing. Based on these courses, you might decide to major in marketing for your bachelor’s degree.
  • Financial savings. Many students earn their associate’s degrees at community colleges with affordable tuition rates. Later, they can transfer their course credits to a more expensive four-year school, reducing the overall cost of their bachelor’s degree.
  • Enter workforce faster. Earning an associate’s may enable you to start your career faster. Many associate degree holders then work while earning their bachelor’s degree. As a result, you could increase your income and gain work experience more quickly.

Considering your personal and professional goals could help you determine the best educational pathway for you.

If I Have an Associate’s Degree, How Long Will It Take to Get My Bachelor’s?

Bachelor degree students studying together in a university

What comes after an associate degree? You can enter the workforce or continue your education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Many four-year colleges allow students to transfer course credits from their associate’s degrees to meet the requirements for their bachelor’s degree. This process often enables students to graduate faster.

How long it takes to earn a bachelor’s degree after an associate’s varies based on several factors, including the number of credits transferred and specific program requirements. Typically, students can complete their bachelor’s degree in 2 to 3 years instead of the traditional 4 if they earn an associate’s first.

What’s the Difference Between an Associates vs. Bachelors Degree?

students taking their associates degree

Associate’s and bachelor’s degree online or on campus both allow students to gain foundational knowledge and skills, yet there are many differences between these two educational paths.

What is an associates degree?

  • At least 60 credit hours
  • Typically takes 2 years to complete if you enroll full-time
  • Covers basic concepts and skills in the major
  • Includes general education requirements
  • Designed to prepare students for entry-level jobs

People often pursue an associate’s degree to complete general education courses and prepare for a career.

What is a bachelors degree?

  • At least 120 credit hours
  • Usually takes 4 years for full-time students to finish
  • Explores more advanced approaches, theories, and skills
  • Can help prepare students for careers or graduate school

What can you do with a bachelors degree? A bachelor’s degree can help you develop transferable skills and may open up more career opportunities than an associate’s degree. But, it does require a more significant investment of time and money.

Do you get an associate’s degree while getting a bachelor’s degree? Some colleges have dual enrollment options that allow students to work on both degrees simultaneously, but most four-year programs only offer dual degree programs at bachelor’s or graduate levels. In addition, some students opt getting a second bachelor’s degree rather than furthering their education with a master’s degree.

Is It Worth Getting an Associate’s Degree Before a Bachelor’s Degree?

associate degree students meeting for a project

Yes, getting an associate’s degree before a bachelor’s degree is worth it for many students. An associate’s degree enables you to develop foundational knowledge and skills in your chosen discipline.

Numerous easy associate degrees online are available that can equip you with the necessary skills and knowledge for a variety of entry-level careers. Associate degree holders tend to have higher earnings and lower unemployment rates than those with only a high school diploma (Bureau of Labor Statistics). You can also choose to continue your education in a bachelor’s program.

Earning an associate’s first may help you save money in the long run. Community colleges and other two-year programs typically have affordable tuition rates, and you could potentially transfer your earned course credits to a four year college.

Can you get a bachelor’s degree at a community college? Certainly, the opportunity to get a bachelor’s degree at a community college is available in states where such programs are permitted, with state-specific policies governing these offerings.

Do I Need an Associate’s Degree to Get a Bachelor’s?

Do I Need an Associate’s Degree to Get a Bachelor’s

Do you have to have an associate’s degree to get a bachelor’s degree? No, you are not required to complete a two year degree before enrolling in a bachelor’s program.

But, earning an associate’s degree online or on campus first does offer several advantages. You can often reduce tuition costs by completing general education courses at a community college instead of a four-year institution. Also, an associate’s program allows you to explore potential career paths.

You can take the first step toward earning an associate’s or bachelor’s degree by researching quick degrees online or on-campus from accredited schools.

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