Associate Degree in US and Canada

An Associate Degree is a college program that typically takes two years to complete and is considered the minimum qualification for entry-level employment in many fields. In the United States, Associate Degrees are typically offered by community colleges and other educational institutions, while in Canada they are offered by colleges, institutes, and universities. Associate Degrees are available in a variety of subject areas, such as business, healthcare, technology, and the humanities. With an Associate Degree, graduates can pursue entry-level positions, transfer to a four-year institution to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree, or gain additional technical skills to advance in their field.

What is the difference between a two-year associate degree earned in the United States and a two-year diploma programme earned at a Canadian college? It’s an important question to ask, especially for prospective students from the United States. It’s also a reasonable question to ask given the costs of studying abroad and the time commitment that will require you to spend time away from family and friends. As close as Canada and the United States are (both physically and historically), there are many differences between the two countries, so make sure you have all of the information you’ll need before making a decision.

Difference Between the Degrees in the US and Canada

Undergraduate students can pursue both bachelor’s and associate degrees, but there are some key differences to be aware of before deciding which to pursue:

Basis Bachelor’s degree Associate degrees
Time A bachelor’s degree is typically a four-year full-time course. The associate degree is typically a two-year full-time course.
Cost The cost of a bachelor’s degree is typically two to three times that of an associate degree. Tuition for associate degrees is typically less than that for a bachelor’s degree. You can also save money for two years.
Entry The entry requirements are specified ahead of time, and they are generally stringent. The entry requirements for associate degrees are less competitive and flexible, and they also serve as a stepping stone to a desired bachelor’s program.
Part-time option There is no part-time option for this degree. Associate degrees can also be completed part-time, but it will take a long time.

What are Associate Degrees?

An associate degree is an academic programme offered at the undergraduate level that provides students with the fundamental technical and transferable skills, as well as the academic knowledge required to immediately enter the workforce or further their education in the chosen field. 

Reasons Students Choose Associate Degrees

The reasons why students choose associate degrees are

  • It is reasonably priced.
  • Career advancement is easier.
  • Bachelor students can follow a path to their desired institution.
  • Find your passion before pursuing a bachelor’s degree.
  • Obtain the most relevant qualifications and skills as determined by employers.

Types of Associate Degrees 

There are four types of associate degrees, which are

  • AA (Associate of Arts), 
  • AAA (Associate of Applied Arts)
  • AS (Associate of Science), and 
  • AAS (Associate of Applied Science), with the ‘applied’ course being the main distinction (as they are more career-specific and focus on imparting practical skills).

Furthermore, the AA and AS programmes are designed for students who want to pursue a bachelor’s degree or are preparing for advanced levels of academic study.

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Changing from an Associate’s Degree to a Bachelor’s Degree

The transfer process is straightforward until your course credits are relevant for the particle bachelor’s programme and accepted by your desired institution. Given this, you simply transfer those credits and enrol in your desired bachelor’s programme halfway, i.e. in a 2+2 format. Furthermore, in order to be prepared for the bachelor’s programme, you must research your chosen institution’s requirements and credits in specific classes.

Associate Degrees in the US

Community colleges, technical colleges, junior colleges, affiliated colleges of universities, and university institutes are the institutions that offer associate degrees in the United States. Some students pursue associate degrees to prepare for a bachelor’s degree, while others hope to improve their employment prospects. You should be aware that after earning an associate degree, you are eligible for OPT (Optional Practical Training) or STEM OPT (STEM Optional Practical Training).

Associate Degrees in Canada

Community colleges and university colleges in Canada provide associate degrees that are equivalent to the first two years of a four-year university degree. Additionally, associate degree holders are eligible for the post-graduate work permit (PGWP), which allows them to stay and work in Canada after graduation.

Admission Requirements

One of the benefits of pursuing an Associate degree is that admission requirements are less stringent. Here are some examples of typical university and college criteria:

  • Diploma from a high school
  • GPA range: 2.0 – 2.5
  • TOEFL iBT (60-70), IELTS Academic (5.5-6.5), or PTE Academic as proof of English proficiency.
  • Official record transcript (grades)
  • The application fee.

Some study programmes may require you to submit additional documents, such as SAT, ACT, or CLT test results, essays, or even a higher GPA.

Top Universities for Associate Degree in
US and Canada

These are the top universities and their 2023 rankings providing Associate Degree programs:


Universities Annual Fees
Fort Scott Community College 13,000 USD
Coastline Community College 8,842 USD
Rend Lake College 13,000 USD
Cochise College 12,300 USD
Mitchell Technical Institute 7,524 USD


Universities Annual Fees
Alexander College CAD 17,600
Douglas College CAD 18,346
College of New Caledonia CAD 4,572
Capilano University CAD 9,760
University Canada West CAD 3,114

Which is better: An Associate’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree?

The best degree will be one that will assist you in achieving your goals, whether they are personal, educational, or professional. While an associate degree can lead to a variety of careers, a bachelor’s degree may provide more opportunities. However, if time is of the essence, an associate degree may be the best option for your immediate needs. Finally, it’s critical to assess your situation – your financial resources, your schedule, and your goals to determine which degree is best for you.

If you want to earn an academic degree to enter a new career path or advance your career in an existing one, you should look at job postings to see what education is required. Understanding the expectations of your industry may help you decide which degree to pursue.

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This was all about Associate Degrees in US and Canada. If you need any further assistance in selecting your dream destination or university, contact our Leverage Edu experts. You can also book a 30-min slot on 1800 57 2000 and get free guidance.