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Ashworth College Blog

What’s the Difference Between an Undergraduate Certificate & an Associate Degree?

Written by Autumn Granza on Monday, 23 December 2019. Posted in Why Ashworth

Graduate with decorated cap.

You’re ready to further your education, but you’re not sure which path is right for you. There’s a lot to consider when choosing to start an undergraduate certificate or an associate degree. Ashworth College has both degree and certificate programs that may help you enter the field you want. Here’s what to know about the two.

What is an undergraduate certificate?

Undergraduate certificates are designed to help you prepare for a degree program. They’re at least 18-credits and the program you choose should provide a foundation for the area you’ll be studying. Usually completed in about a year, you’ll study specific coursework related to the field.

What is an associate degree?

An associate degree is a post-secondary degree.Typically completed in about two years, Ashoworth’s programs let you study at your own pace, so it may take longer. There are four types of associate degrees:

  • Associate of Arts (AA)
  • Associate of Science (AS)
  • Associate of Applied Arts (AAA)
  • Associate of Applied Science (AAS)

When studying to earn your associate degree you’ll also need to complete general education courses.

What are the major differences?

The major difference between an undergraduate certificate and an associate degree is that an associate degree requires general education courses while certificates are focused on industry-specific classes and how they relate to a specific career. The length of time to complete each also differs. While a certificate may be completed in about one year, an associate degree may take two years or longer.

Why does it matter?

Pursuing your education is a step in the right direction, but making sure you’re earning a certificate or degree that will help you enter the field you’re interested in is what matters most. If you’re focused on your career and want to expand your skill set, then an undergrad certificate may be right for you. Once you complete the certificate, you can transfer those credits into Ashworth College associate and bachelor’s degree programs. On the other hand, if you know that college is the next step for you, enrolling in an associate degree program that’s flexible and affordable may be your next step. Start today with Ashworth by calling an Admissions Advisor at or enroll online.

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