For many students, an associate’s degree in psychology is just the first step on their educational journey. As one of the fastest online associate’s degrees available, this option can help you to quickly get a start on pursuing your bachelor’s degree while receiving a lower level of degree in the meantime to mark your progress. You might wonder how the curriculum of the average associate’s degree in psychology program compares to that of a bachelor’s degree, which typically requires four years of college study but may take less if you start with an accelerated associate’s degree program. While an Associate of Arts (A.A.) or Associate of Science (A.S.) degree covers some of the basic foundational psychology sources, much of the curriculum covers general education coursework.
Psychology Courses That Transfer From Associate’s to Bachelor’s Programs
If you picked psychology as your major, coursework in your chosen discipline may seem like the most important classes you take for your associate’s degree. These classes allow students to begin learning the fundamentals of psychology studies. Often, you begin by taking an Introduction to Psychology course, followed by classes such as Developmental Psychology, Childhood Psychology, Adult Psychology, Social Psychology and Abnormal Psychology. While some courses are required, others may be electives that allow you to customize your education to some degree.
Elective courses in an associate’s degree program in psychology can be as varied as Theory of Personality Development, Psychology of Women and Psychology of Teaching and Learning.
General Education Courses in a Psychology Program
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A typical associate’s degree program includes 60 college credits, or half of the 120 credits required to earn a bachelor’s degree. At the usual credit rate of three credits for a non-laboratory class, there’s a good chance that your psychology courses make up only about 20 percent of your associate’s degree coursework.
It may surprise you that such a small percentage of your associate’s degree curriculum consists of psychology classes. Although they may not relate directly to your major, the courses you take in disciplines outside of psychology as part of your associate’s degree program are far from a waste. Like associate’s degree programs, bachelor’s degree programs include general education requirements as part of the curriculum.
Different schools may have a different distribution of their general education requirements. However, most associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs include some required coursework in disciplines like communication, humanities, social science, natural science and mathematics. As a student in an associate’s degree program in psychology, you might take classes like English Composition I and II, Public Speaking, a General Biology laboratory course, a literature course, American History, World History, Introduction to Sociology and Introductory Statistics.
Usually, the courses that meet general education requirements in an associate’s degree program will also meet these requirements in a bachelor’s degree program. In fact, the general education coursework you complete while pursuing your associate’s degree should satisfy most or all of the general education requirements required for your bachelor’s degree.
Four-year colleges sometimes require courses unique to the institution as part of their gen ed requirements. The school may or may not waive these course requirements for transfer students. It’s a good idea to find out what requirements apply to transfer students early on.
Tips for Transfer Students
Both the psychology and the general education courses you take as part of your associate’s degree program are at the same level of study – undergraduate – as you would complete at a four-year college. That means they should transfer to a bachelor’s degree program without a hitch. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Some transfer students have trouble with the process of transferring their credits or courses, which can cause them to have to spend more time and money retaking courses they have already completed once. To help avoid this issue, there are a few steps you can take proactively. One option is to seek out a four-year college that is especially welcoming to transfer students, offering a transfer policy that allows students to bring with them all of the credits they have earned elsewhere, as well as support in streamlining the process. It’s also a good idea to save syllabi and other documentation from your coursework so that you can show how the courses you have taken compare to the equivalent classes offered at the four-year institution.
Find out if your community college has a partnership with a four-year school whose psychology program interests you. If so, transferring your associate’s degree to a bachelor’s degree program will likely prove easier.