Associate Degree Requirements and Prerequisites

Associate degree programs are generally 2-year educational programs. Colleges and universities offer associate degree programs in many different areas. Requirements and prerequisites vary by school, but most share some common criteria.

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Requirements and Prerequisites for Associate Degree Programs

Several types of associate degree programs are available for interested students. Some of the more common associate degrees include Associate of Arts, Associate of Science and Associate of Applied Science, but many others exist. Associate degree programs are designed to quickly and efficiently prepare students for careers or for further study. Generally, associate degree programs consist of at least 60 credits or units, including major requirements, general education requirements and elective courses.

Common Admission Requirements

The most common requirement for acceptance into associate degree programs is a high school diploma or its equivalent. However, some community colleges offer open admissions, which means they do not restrict enrollment and welcome students at all ability levels. Depending on the program, other less common requirements may include a minimum age or clean background check. A list of other common admissions requirements is included below. Associate degree programs may require any, all or none of these criteria for admissions:

  • A minimum high school grade point average
  • Minimum standardized test scores (ACT or SAT)
  • Passing grades in any necessary prerequisite courses
  • Statement of goals or purpose
  • Letters of recommendation

Common Prerequisites

In reference to a degree program, prerequisites are any courses or conditions that must be completed before admission. Because it's a lower-level degree, there are typically few prerequisites for an associate program, but certain fields of study may require specific course prerequisites. For example, prerequisite courses for some nursing associate degree programs include biology and chemistry. CPR training is another common prerequisite for some health care programs. Many admissions programs also require placement testing in math and English, which help designate the level of college courses students are required to take.

Common Program Requirements

Common requirements for graduation from an associate degree program include successful completion of all needed coursework and a minimum GPA. Students may also need to earn a minimum grade in general education courses, such as math and English, and complete courses that meet cultural diversity requirements.

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