How Many Credit Hours for an Associate Degree?

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The number of semester credit hours required for an associate degree depends on the college and degree program. In general, an associate degree takes two years full time and represents half the work required for a bachelor's degree. Even though the typical bachelor's requirement is 120 credits, most two-year degrees require more than 60 credits, according to Complete College.

Range of Requirements

  • Complete College surveyed 104 associate degree programs in 2011. The organization found that the most-frequent degree requirement was 60 semester credits. However, only 14.7 percent of the programs in the survey required 60 credits, and no college had a median requirement of 60 credits for all its programs. Most programs required more than 60 units, and some required 70 credits or more.

Reasons for the Differences

  • Requirements for associate degrees vary, because community colleges are governed at the local state level, according to Complete College. In general, programs in business, sciences, education and liberal arts require a median of 61 to 63 credits. A variety of majors require a median of 64 to 66 credits, including computer and criminal justice majors. Programs in the technical and health professions typically have the highest median requirement of 67 hours or more. This is in part because of licensing requirements.

Semester vs. Quarter Units

  • Two credits on the semester system are equivalent to three quarter units. An associate degree requiring 60 semester credits is equivalent to one requiring 90 quarter units.

References

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