What Is the Value of an Associate Degree?

What Is the Value of an Associate Degree?
Campus is the new alternative to online community college that provides a 100% live and online Associate of Arts in Business Administration degree program. We’re on a mission to maximize access to a world-class education, starting with our career-focused business program that equips students from across the U.S. with a solid foundation in core business principles to set them up for success no matter what their next step is.

An associate degree can have significant benefits on your future career path and higher education. Although this degree program can be completed more quickly than a four-year program, a lot of people wonder if associate degrees are worthwhile. Obtaining an associate degree from an accredited institute can increase your earnings while also assisting you in keeping your education expenses down.

Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that a full-time employee with a high school graduation is expected to earn $1.6 million in their lifetime, whereas one with an associate degree would make $2 million.

A larger variety of work prospects become available with an associate degree, especially in professions requiring technical expertise or specialized knowledge. Compared to jobs open to someone with only a high school diploma, professions you can pursue with an associate degree tend to pay more.

Additionally, an associate degree could make it simpler for people to advance in their chosen fields. Many businesses need a specific level of education for higher-level positions, and one way to work towards that is by earning an associate degree in business, like the one offered at Campus.

Having an associate degree can help people qualify for promotions and additional responsibilities, leading to increased salaries. You can determine if an associate degree is right for you by learning more about these advantages and other benefits.

Now, let’s dive into the value of an associate degree to help you with the career decision-making process.

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How Much Is an Associate Degree Worth?

If you are interested in knowing how much an associate degree is worth, you fall into one of the two groups of people. One group is still considering the alternatives, and the other has a clear goal and is ready to begin.

Usually, people who know they want to continue their education after high school but are still determining what field of study or vocation they ultimately want to pursue belong to the first group. In case you belong to the first category and can’t find an answer to how much is an associate degree worth, you will definitely get some help in decision-making here. An associate degree enables individuals to acquire a particular skill set in less time and for less money than a bachelor’s, and it lets students dabble in education.

It is a great game plan for people seeking a starting point to begin their education after high school. Before enrolling in a competitive bachelor's program, they can take courses in a two-year program to cover any gaps in their education and boost their GPA.

An associate degree can help you have another string in your bow. That is to say – associate degrees are worthwhile in almost every case.

In the subsequent sections, let’s further break down how much an associate degree is worth by considering key components such as cost, potential salary, and the overall value of an associate degree.

How Much Does an Associate Degree Cost?

There’s one question that’s most likely top of mind for those considering an associate degree: how much does an associate degree cost?

According to the CollegeBoard, the average cost of an associate degree program for one year in 2021 was estimated to be $3,800 for students who live in the district where the associate degree program is offered and attend a public in-district school. Tuition rates vary between institutions and programs.

In contrast to that, in 2021-22, the average annual tuition for a bachelor's degree program was predicted to be $38,070 for private nonprofit institutions, $27,560 for out-of-state public institutions, and $10,740 for public in-state institutions.

However, these figures only touch on the tuition fees. They still don’t necessarily answer the question: how much does an associate degree cost?

Another key thing to remember is the other impactful costs like textbooks, supplies, transportation, or living expenses. The overall cost of acquiring an associate degree can also change depending on the program length (some programs may take more than two years to finish), the student's attendance status (full- or part-time), and any financial aid or scholarships they may have been awarded.

To gain an appropriate idea regarding the cost of obtaining an associate degree in a specific field or institution, it's vital to examine various universities and their tuition prices. For students who qualify, financial aid options, including grants and scholarships, can also help defray the cost of tuition.

After you find out all these factors, you can estimate the numbers for yourself and truly have an understanding on how much an associate degree costs.

Associate Degree Salary: How Much Do Two-Year Degree Holders Earn?

If you think only a four-year, traditional college graduate can get good jobs, that is untrue. In comparison to people who only have a high school degree, people with an associate degree earn well. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate of candidates with an associate degree was 4.6%, and the median usual weekly earning was $963. On the other hand, the unemployment rate of people with a high school diploma only was 6.2%, and the median usual weekly earnings was $809.

What you can earn with an associate degree depends largely on the profession you choose. There are many options in different fields, but let’s start with the medical field. According to Forbes, the associate degree salary for registered nurses is around $55,000. Radiologic and X-ray technicians make an average of $52,000 yearly, while physical therapy assistants might make $46,000.

Interestingly, the average cost of a two-year degree is less than $9,000.

Similarly, if you want to make a career in technology and computers, the associate degree salary for computer support specialists is between $46,000 and $60,000 a year. What's more, a two-year degree in web design can earn a person an average salary of $47,000 annually. If they run their own business, graphic designers can earn up to $50,000 per year or more.

Exploring other career options, administrative assistants can make $16 per hour on average. Notably, skilled administrative assistants who assist C-level CEOs may earn up to $60,000. The associate degree salary of sales managers made an average of $132,290 per year in 2020. Commissions and salaries or salaries plus bonuses are two possible forms of compensation for sales managers.

The effectiveness of the human resources department of a big firm or organization is greatly dependent on HR coordinators. The associate degree salary for an HR coordinator is often over $49,000 per year.

There is a list of other lucrative careers that you can opt for with an associate degree in business, careers that may offer a lot of growth opportunities once you earn your two-year degree.

The Value of an Associate Degree

To calculate the value of an associate degree, let’s focus on the following numbers:

  • According to the CollegeBoard, the annual tuition fee for an associate program is $3,800 for public in-district schools per year.
  • In 2021–22, average predicted budgets for full-time undergraduate students (tuition, fees, accommodation, board, and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, and other personal expenses) was $18,830 for public two–year in-district students. That’s $15,030 of expenses outside of tuition fees.
  • The median lifetime earning of an associate degree is $2 million.

With these figures, we can find out a rough value of an associate degree.

Average cost of an associate degree [a] Estimated budget for full-time undergraduate students (not including tuition) [b] Total two-year cost [c] Lifetime earnings from age 25 to 64 [a+b] Value of an associate degree [(a+b)-c]
$3,800 x 2 = $7,600 $15,030 x 2 = $30,060 $7,600 + $30,060 = $37,660 $2,000,000 $2,000,000 - $37,660 = $1,962,340

The result shows the value of an associate degree would be around $1,962,340. This method gives a rough estimate of lifetime return on investment but of course ignores variables like inflation, changes in income over time, and the possibility of further educational costs. Aside from financial benefits, an associate degree also offers prospects for professional development, personal advancement, and broader job options!

As we mentioned before, to gain an accurate estimate of the value of an associate degree in a specific field or institution, you need to be certain about the type of university you select and its tuition prices. Other factors like financial aid options, including Pell Grant and scholarships, can also greatly impact the value.

The U.S. News & World Report states that associate degrees focusing on the workforce generate the highest return on investment. Now you know that you will get a positive return on investment in your lifetime.

If you want to calculate on your own,  check out the following study from the American Institute of Research. They have compiled the salaries received by graduates of roughly 600 community colleges and calculated the return on investment for graduate students.

Additionally, they have evaluated the extent to which taxpayers profit from the higher wages associate degree holders often earn in comparison to individuals with only a high school diploma!

Invest in Your Future With an Online Associate Degree!

With an associate degree, you'll have more time to dedicate to beginning your hunt for jobs and investigating companies you want to work for in your profession.

Preparing for employment while pursuing an associate degree can help ensure you land a job when you’re ready to enter the workforce. When you invest in your future with this degree, there is no need to be skeptical about the return on investment.

If you’re eager to begin exploring your associate degree options, you can visit our online community college program and request more information. Here, you can find the right online associate degree program in business for building the career of your dreams while saving money.

Our unique associate degree in business program doesn’t only provide quality education and a more affordable pathway to a career, but you also get to polish your skills to shine in the industry!

Want to learn more about Campus?

Our admissions advisors can answer your questions.