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25 Fastest Online Associate’s Degrees

Though it’s frequently called a “two-year” degree, there’s no guarantee on how long an associate’s degree takes to earn. In fact, many students take way longer – three years or more – to finish their associate’s level studies.

Recommended Online Associate’s Degrees

If you’re serious about getting your degree and improving your career prospects, then you want a degree path you can finish fast from a regionally accredited school you can trust. Here are 25 accelerated online associate’s degrees that you can earn in less than two years.

1. Associate’s Degree in Business Administration

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Whether you earn an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree, you can do it quickly at a school like Gwynedd Mercy University or Truckee Meadows Community College. Business administration is among the most common accelerated associate’s degree programs, and these are just a couple of the schools that allow you to complete the program in as little as 12 months.

Gwynedd Mercy University, based in Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association Commission on Higher Education. U.S. News & World Report has recognized Gwynedd Mercy University as one of the best regional universities and the best colleges for veterans. Students in Gwynedd Mercy University’s Accelerated Associate of Science in Business Administration degree program will study accounting, business communications, business law, marketing and small business management. The school offers the same accelerated program online and on campus.

You don’t have to go to a four-year university to earn an associate’s degree fast. A community college can offer similar accelerated options, often for less money, and these schools are increasingly adding online courses and programs. Truckee Meadows Community College’s Associate of Applied Science in Business is offered as one of the school’s FastTrack online programs. Based in Reno, Nevada, TMCC is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Students in the FastTrack online business administration program can expect to study a wide range of business topics, like accounting, bookkeeping, entrepreneurship, information systems, logistics and management.

Time to complete: 12 months

2. Associate of Arts in Psychology

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Do you have an interest in human behavior and why people think, feel and do the way they do? An associate’s degree

Miami Dade College offers an Associate of Arts degree with a pathway in psychology that you could complete within a year. The school is based in Miami, Florida, and regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Students in Miami Dade College’s psychology program will study introductory psychology, social psychology, multicultural relations, addiction, human sexuality, abnormal psychology, human development and statistical methods as well as general education courses. By the time they graduate, students will be prepared to work in entry-level psychology roles at mental health facilities, substance abuse and rehabilitation centers and childcare facilities as well is in the criminal justice and legal system.

Time to complete: 12 months

3. Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice

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If you’re pursuing a law enforcement career, having an associate’s degree in criminal justice can give you an edge over candidates starting out with just a high school diploma. By earning your degree quickly online, you won’t even have to sacrifice years of your life to prepare.

Kaplan University allows students to earn a criminal justice associate’s degree in just a year. The school is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and headquartered in Davenport, Iowa. U.S. News & World Report has ranked Kaplan University’s online programs among the best in the nation at the bachelor’s level (there is no such ranking at the associate’s level), so students can rest assured that the institution handles distance-learning education successfully.

Students of the Kaplan University criminal justice program will learn the philosophy and development of the criminal justice system in the United States, complete in-depth study of criminology and criminal law, work with law enforcement professionals and apply their skills and knowledge to real-world scenarios in a capstone project. The program exposes students to both a broad liberal arts education and the specific criminal justice skills that employers are seeking.

Another institution offering a one-year criminal justice degree is Truckee Meadows Community College. Like all of the school’s FastTrack associate’s degree programs, the criminal justice program can take as little as 12 months if students double-up on their courses and take two five-week classes per session instead of one. Criminal justice students at Truckee Meadows Community College will learn what rights are guaranteed to individuals in the criminal justice system, what ethics every profession involved in the criminal justice system must uphold, procedures involved in a criminal trial and how to legally and ethically investigate criminal matters, arrest and detain suspects. Whether you aspire to work in law enforcement, corrections, investigations, probation or even corporate security, this program will provide you with the educational background you need. 

Time to complete: 12 months

4. Associate of Applied Science in Fire Science

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If you’re interested in a firefighting career, Kaplan University’s associate’s in fire science program can help you prepare in as little as one year. Not only is the school regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, but the U.S. Fire Administration also recognizes it as an official Fire and Emergency Services Higher Education institution.

Students of Kaplan University’s fully online fire science program will study fire prevention, firefighter safety, defense planning, firefighting strategy, hazardous materials management, building codes and code inspection. The degree path will prepare graduates for a variety of firefighting and emergency services roles in their communities.

Time to complete: 12 months 

5. Associate of Applied Science in Paralegal Studies

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Just because you have an interest in the legal system doesn’t mean that you want to spend seven years or more pursuing a bachelor’s and then law school degree. With Kaplan University’s paralegal studies associate’s degree, you don’t have to. You can prepare for a career as a paralegal online in as little as a year.

Kaplan University’s program emphasizes practical legal training. Students will take coursework in legal terminology and a wide range of legal topics, such as contracts, wills, tort claims and real estate.  They will also develop skills in research, writing, using technology and managing a law office. By the end of the program, students will not only understand how to prepare a case, bring a lawsuit and defend a client, but may also be eligible to take the credentialing Paralegal Advanced Competency Exam or the Certified Legal Assistant/Certified Paralegal examination. Students can even attain real-world experience through an internship.

Time to complete: 12 months

Recommended Online Associate’s Degrees

6. Associate of Applied Science in Computer Information Systems or Information Technology

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If you have an interest in technology, an associate’s degree in computer information systems or information technology can help you start a career in a rapidly-growing field – and you could complete your studies in as little as one year.

In just 12 months, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science in Information Technology online from Kaplan University. Students in Kaplan University’s IT program should expect to learn skills like managing networks and databases, developing Web pages and software applications and troubleshooting software and hardware issues. They can also choose a specialization like networking or multiplatform software development.

At the Florida Institute of Technology, based in Melbourne, Florida, and accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, students can complete an Associate of Science in Computer Information Systems degree online in 20 months or less. The school has received recognition from U.S. News & World Report in several categories, including national universities, the best colleges for veterans and the best online programs at the bachelor’s and MBA levels. Coursework will include software design and development and programming in languages like Visual Basic and Java.

Time to complete: 12 to 20 months 

7. Associate of Science in Health Sciences

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Healthcare is among the most rapidly growing industries, and health sciences is just one of many associate’s degrees that can prepare you for a career in the field. At Azusa Pacific University, you can earn your associate’s degree in health sciences 100 percent online in one to two years. The school is based in Azusa, California, and accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. It also made U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best national universities.

Students in Azusa Pacific University’s health sciences associate’s degree program will develop a broad understanding of the sciences through coursework in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry and statistics. As a Christian university, the school also requires coursework in biblical literature or bible study. There’s a special nursing track for students who aspire to eventually earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, though it requires an additional 10 units of study.

Time to complete: 12 to 24 months 

8. Associate’s in Nursing

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While there’s no one path that’s right for beginning a nursing career, a degree can help you get ahead – whether you’re already licensed or fresh out of high school.

If you’re currently a licensed vocational nurse but haven’t yet earned a degree, you could get one in as little as one year by studying online at Howard College. The community college is based in Big Springs, Texas, but also has campuses in Lamesa and San Angelo. It is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Students in Howard College’s Accelerated (Transition) Associate Degree Nursing Program will study a wide variety of nursing topics ranging from obstetrics and pediatrics to surgical nursing.

If you don’t yet have experience or a license, don’t worry. You can still earn an associate’s degree in nursing quickly from Rasmussen College. The school is headquartered in Minnesota but has two dozen locations throughout several states. It is regionally accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. Rasmussen College’s professional nursing program not only trains students in patient care and clinical decision-making, but also helps them prepare to take the National Council Licensure Examination-Registered Nurse (NCLE-RN) test. If you study online, you can complete the program in as little as 18 months.

Time to complete: 12 to 24 months 

9. Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology

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Healthcare and information technology are two rapidly growing fields, so why not learn the skills for a career that combines both? Kaplan University’s Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology will allow you to do just that in as little as 15 months.

Students of the program will learn the technical skills of managing patient and institutional information within the healthcare industry. Coursework includes medical coding procedures and how to process, gather, report and maintain data for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from patient care and reimbursement to marketing and research. Students will also learn professional behaviors, legal aspects of handling health data, problem-solving skills and the role computers play in information technology and data management in the healthcare industry. The program can prepare graduates for the Registered Health Information Technician certification test.

Time to complete: 15 to 18 months

10. Associate of Applied Science in Medical Assisting
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If you want a hands-on role in healthcare without the time and expense of going to medical school, an associate’s degree in medical assisting could put you on the right career path. In just 15 months, Kaplan University students can prepare for a role that includes checking patients’ vital signs, performing laboratory tests and helping doctors with patient examinations.

While the courses for this associate’s degree program are offered completely online, students also have the opportunity to gain real-life experience through clinical training at a medical facility. Upon completing the program, students will be ready for entry-level roles that require them to assist in and coordinate patient medical care.

Time to complete: 15 to 18 months 

Recommended Online Associate’s Degrees

11. Associate of Applied Science in Medical Office Management

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Can you see yourself in an office management role? You don’t need years of education and experience to prepare for the responsibilities of keeping an office organized and running efficiently. You can earn an associate’s degree in medical office management in as little as 15 months from Kaplan University.

As a student of Kaplan’s Associate of Applied Science in Medical Office Management program, you will develop skills in managing office operations, scheduling appointments, managing patient records and handling billing, coding and insurance paperwork. Throughout your coursework, you will also cultivate your communication, organizational and clinical skills so that you will be well prepared for a career managing patients’ medical records. In addition to your online studies, you can complete an externship at a medical office to gain hands-on experience. Graduates of this program will be ready to take certification tests like the Certified Medical Administrative Specialist and Certified Coding Associate examinations, which can add even more to their résumés.

Time to complete: 15 to 18 months 

12. Associate of Applied Science in Medical Transcription

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Not every career in the healthcare industry requires working directly with patients. In just 15 months, you can prepare for an important behind-the-scenes role like medical transcriptionist. These professionals work in doctors’ offices, hospitals and other medical facilities, transcribing doctors’ spoken and recorded notes into written medical reports and patient care documents.

Kaplan University’s associate’s program in medical transcription includes coursework in ethics, medical terminology, proper use of grammar and punctuation and editing. Students will learn to meet deadlines and standards of accuracy and integrity. The program also provides the foundation for graduates to take the Registered Medical Transcriptionist.

Time to complete: 15 to 18 months

13. Associate of Science in Design Studies

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Do you have an eye for design? You can be more than a “starving artist.” With an associate’s degree in design studies or graphic studies, you can apply your sense of visual aesthetics to a career as a designer. At Herzing University, you can earn your associate’s degree online in as little as 64 weeks. (Herzing University admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.) Herzing University is based in Madison, Wisconsin, and accredited by The Higher Learning Commission. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school’s online programs at the bachelor’s level among the best in the nation.

During the course of the program, students learn to communicate ideas and messages through compelling visuals and build a portfolio of their own designs. Upon graduation, students will be able to showcase their technical design skills and apply solid writing, speaking, computer and critical thinking skills to a design setting. The program is especially well suited to help students who have already taken some college credits in design complete their degree, though even students with no transfer credits can complete their degree requirements less than two years.

Time to complete: 16 to 20 months (Program length at Herzing University pertains to graduating in normal time.)

14. Associate of Arts in Early Childhood Education
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Do you love working with kids? The first step to a career as a pre-kindergarten teacher, childcare worker or even learning center administrator is an associate’s degree in early childhood education. Whether you intend to make a career out of childcare work or eventually earn a bachelor’s degree to become a licensed teacher, this degree can be a stepping stone to achieving your dreams.

At Rasmussen College, you can earn your degree online in just 18 months. You’ll study childhood education, teacher preparation, child development and classroom management as well as the general education courses that will make you a well-rounded education professional.

Time to complete: 18 months 

15. Associate of Arts in General Education or Liberal Arts

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Maybe you don’t know yet what you want to study – you just know that having a degree will open doors to opportunities that you might not have otherwise. If you haven’t decided on a specific major, you can earn a degree in general education or liberal arts. These programs provide a broad foundation of college-level education for you to draw from and can be the perfect stepping stone for a career that doesn’t require a specific path of study or for earning a bachelor’s degree at a later time.

Florida State College, based in Jacksonville and accredited by the Southern Association of College and Schools Commission on Colleges, offers an accelerated Associate of Arts in General Education program. Students can graduate in just 18 months – 12 if they transfer the maximum amount of prior college credits. Students take courses in a wide range of subjects, including human development, psychology, sociology, science, economics, finance, philosophy, mathematics, business and the humanities.

If you have prior college credits to transfer, you can earn a degree even faster at Northeastern University. The school – which is based in Boston, Massachusetts, and regionally accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges – offers a fully online accelerated Associate of Science in Liberal Arts degree completion program. In just nine months, you could attain the degree you started without ever having to set foot on campus. The school is recognized in a number of U.S. News & World Report’s college rankings, including best national and global universities and the top up-and-coming schools.

Time to complete: 18 Months (or less!)

Recommended Online Associate’s Degrees

16. Associate of Arts in Graphic Design

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Are you interested in design for the Web, print and other media? An associate’s degree can get you started on the path to a graphic design career. At Rasmussen College, you can learn the ins and outs of graphic design online in as little as 18 months.

In this program, you’ll take courses that expose you to the techniques of traditional art and multimedia design, including color theory, photography, typography, print design, interactive media, editing audio and video clips and designing for the optimal user experience. You will have to think critically and draw from your design skills to solve challenges based on what you’ll encounter in the workplace. You can even choose from two specializations, Web and Interactive Design and Animation and Motion Graphics, to enhance your skills even more in an area of particular interest.

Time to complete: 18 months 

17. Associate’s in Human Resources

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In every industry, businesses and organizations need to recruit, train and manage talent. Human resources personnel are the professionals who specialize in hiring workers and developing their skills. An associate’s degree in human resources can give you the skills you need for this versatile career.

In just 18 months, human resources students at Rasmussen College can acquire a solid background in employment law, change management, benefits administration and managing and training employees. When you graduate, you’ll be ready to take the Professional in Human Resources certification test, which can bolter your résumé even more. 

Time to complete: 18 months

18. Human Services Associate’s Degree

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If you feel a calling to help other people who are struggling through difficult life problems, then an education in human services could put you on the right path. Rasmussen College makes it possible to get your associate’s degree quickly – in as little as 18 months – so that you can start making a difference sooner.

Studying human services will prepare you for roles like community health worker, social and human service assistant, social or community service manager and community and social service specialist. Throughout the course of your education, you will develop your public service knowledge and leadership skills and learn the crisis response strategies that will help you help others coping with an emergency. You will prepare for a career helping others in settings like victim advocacy organizations, courts and foster homes.

Time to complete: 18 months 

19. Associate of Science in Software Application Development

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If your computer skills are matched only by your creativity and resourcefulness, you could find great success as a software application developer. Software development is a rapidly growing industry. An associate’s degree can help you get started sooner rather than later.

At Rasmussen College, you can earn your associate’s degree in software application development online in just 18 months. You’ll study software design, smartphone app development and programming in languages like Java and C++. Your education will focus on practical application, and you’ll have the opportunity to build your own professional portfolio to show off to prospective employers or clients. The school also offers an accelerated, 18-month bachelor’s degree in computer science for students who want to take their software development education even further.

Time to complete: 18 months

20. Associate of Arts in Accounting

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If you think an accounting career is out of reach, think again. You don’t need to spend years in school or earn an advanced degree to get started. An associate’s degree can be the first step to your career, and you can earn it in less than 20 months.

Florida Institute of Technology offers a 20-month associate’s in accounting program completely online. Students will learn the theoretical and accounting standards and fundamentals as well as the practical application of accounting procedures. Through their coursework, they will become familiar with equities, liabilities, accounting’s role in business decisions and the process of preparing financial statements and records. In addition to entry-level staff accountant roles, graduates of this program can seek positions in auditing, financial data analysis and payroll administration.

Time to complete: 20 months 

Recommended Online Associate’s Degrees

21. Associate of Arts in Healthcare Management

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Not all businesses involve manufacturing and selling products. Even industries like healthcare are businesses, and they rely on professionals with excellent management skills to keep them running efficiently and operating at their best. With an associate’s degree in healthcare management, you can break into the exciting, fast-growing field of managed healthcare.

At Florida Institute of Technology, it takes just 20 months (or less) to earn an Associate of Arts in Healthcare Management online. Coursework combines studies in both healthcare and business, giving you the multidisciplinary tools you need to succeed. Students will learn about the organizational structure of healthcare, trends in modern managed healthcare and the ethical concerns at play in the medical field. Throughout their coursework, they will have the opportunity to develop their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills and a wide range of management tasks, like planning and staffing. By the time they graduate, students will have the skills to work as case coordinators, office managers, risk managers and medical administrators.

Time to complete: 20 months

22. Associate of Applied Science in Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist

Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist

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Medical insurance plays a major role in today’s healthcare system, at least in the United States. The need for doctors’ offices and hospitals to handle a massive amount of extensive insurance forms has created positions dedicated solely to insurance billing and coding. In as little as 20 months, you can earn an associate’s degree and make insurance building and coding your career.

Herzing University’s Associate of Applied Science in Insurance Billing and Coding Specialist degree prepares students to work in doctors’ offices, hospitals, outpatient medical facilities, nursing homes and home healthcare services. (Herzing University admits students of any race, color, and national or ethnic origin.) Students will take coursework in medical terminology, coding for procedures and diagnoses and the use of computer databases for managing patient information. While the program primarily prepares students to work as medical billers or medical coders, it provides the skills for employment in a wide range of jobs, like medical clerk, insurance claims analyst, medical office assistant and health information specialist.

Time to complete: 20 months (Program length at Herzing University pertains to graduating in normal time.)

23. Associate of Science in Marketing

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Good marketing leads people to buy or buy into your product, service, or brand. The field is ideal for candidates who are at once creative, strategic and analytical. An associate’s degree could be the first stepping stone into a rewarding marketing career.

Florida Institute of Technology offers a fully online associate’s degree program in marketing that you can complete in as little as 20 months. Throughout your education, you will combine business studies with a background in liberal arts. You’ll learn the basic principles of marketing and how to plan, create and evaluate advertising and marketing campaigns. You will learn how to analyze and identify market segments to target for a particular product or service. By the time you graduate, you will have the skills to work for an established or start-up organization, whether at a marketing agency or in-house at a business. Graduates from Florida Institute of Technology’s associate’s program in marketing attain careers in account management and product marketing management, and they often start out in entry-level merchandiser and junior marketing associate roles.

Time to complete: 20 months 

24. Associate of Science in Wind Energy Technology

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Despite the name, renewable energy doesn’t maintain itself. It takes skilled and educated technicians to inspect, maintain and repair the turbines used to generate wind energy. With an associate’s degree in wind energy technology, you can find your way into this challenging and exciting career.

Some colleges offer an associate’s degree in Wind Energy Technology that students can complete online in as little as 20 months. Upon earning this kind of degree, graduates will be capable of working as a wind energy technician, using the right tools and procedures to safely and effectively inspect, clean, troubleshoot and repair turbines and generators.

Time to complete: 20 months

25. Associate of Science in Web Programming

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Businesses in every industry use the Internet to connect with and be found by customers and clients. As a web programmer, you will create these sites and pages.

Rasmussen College offers a 21-month, fully online associate’s degree program in web programming. Students will learn many popular programming languages, including CSS, Java, HTML and Visual Basic. They will learn the essential tools and techniques for coding websites and software applications that are as functional and aesthetically pleasing. The coursework in the web programming associate’s degree program can prepare students to earn industry certifications in subjects like Oracle, Java and Microsoft. The program also emphasizes the “soft skills,” like effectively communicating and collaborating with clients and teammates, that are necessary for success in web programming.

Time to complete: 21 months

Conclusion

For students who are eager to earn a degree quickly, accelerated associate’s programs from regionally accredited institutions are the fastest way to achieve this goal. If you have significant experience or existing college credits to transfer, you can also look for accredited programs that recognize the work you have already done. Some programs are competency-based, meaning that you can get credit for your relevant work experience and the things you already know. Others specialize in degree completion, so they expect and welcome transfer credits. Taking advantage of accelerated programs, competency-based curricula and transfer credits can help you earn your associate’s degree faster than you ever thought possible.

Recommended Online Associate’s Degrees

Find The Right Degree Now!

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