50 Most Affordable Online Associate Degrees for 2018

50 Most Affordable Online Associate Degrees for 2018

In a global economy, most careers require workers to have education and training beyond a high school diploma.
However, this doesn’t mean that every high school graduate must earn a bachelor’s degree to find a
high-paying job. This is reflected in the fact that increasing numbers of people are pursuing associate degrees,
with recent studies finding that roughly 30% of people with associate degrees actually out-earn those with bachelor’s
degrees.

Earning an online associate degree can provide students with valuable skills that prepare them for a variety of
entry-level positions, and the higher salaries that come with them. They also significantly reduce their
likelihood of unemployment, as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that workers who hold an associate
degree have an unemployment rate that is 1.6%
lower
than those who only have a high school diploma.

Online learning in particular has become a popular way for students to earn an associate degree. In fact,
advances in technology have transformed the higher education world, with many colleges now rushing
to offer
as many online programs and courses as possible. These programs also tend to be more
affordable
, with an average price that’s less than half that of earning a degree on-campus.

The rankings below feature accredited online schools that deliver flexible and efficient educational
opportunities. We’ve designed our ranking methodology to highlight programs with both low tuition rates and
high return-on-investment.

50 Most Affordable Online Associate Degrees

Rank School Score Toggle Content 1

East Mississippi Community College

Value Score

8.08

For 90 years, East
Mississippi
has operated seven locations throughout the east-central part of the state. In recent
years, the college has provided online associate degree options to students throughout the country.
Aside from a range of general education courses, East Mississippi offers affordable career and technical
programs. The variety of associate degree programs includes automotive technology, culinary arts,
funeral service, and ophthalmic technology.

The online degrees have no face-to-face requirements. Students meet assignment deadlines, but
coursework is delivered asynchronously. EMCC is a member of Mississippi Virtual Community College, which
means students may take classes from 15 different member institutions.

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2

Laramie County Community College

Value Score

7.55

With campuses in Laramie, Cheyenne, Pine Bluffs, the F.E. Warren Air Force Base, and online, LCCC serves
approximately 4,500 students in Wyoming and beyond. In addition to 15 fully online associate degree
programs and certificates, Laramie County offers hybrid options, which allow local students to complete
some coursework online and some on-campus.

Associate degree online options include computer information systems, early childhood education,
government studies, and health information technology management. LCCC has transfer agreements with many
Wyoming colleges and universities, allowing graduates to easily transfer credits to a four-year
institution. Online classes are taught by the same faculty who teach on-campus courses.

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Website

3

Allen County Community College

Value Score

7.38

Allen County has
provided career and technical degrees since 1923. In addition to courses available at the Iola and
Burlingame campuses, Allen County offers online associate degrees, which are divided into three areas:
transfer degree tracks, career degree tracks, and allied health programs. Online degree options include
agriculture and natural resources, addiction and prevention studies, criminal justice studies, and
pharmacy technician.

Allen County maintains excellent relationships with four-year Kansas institutions, and credits earned
from Allen County also transfer to institutions outside the state. Classes are delivered asynchronously,
but students are expected to log in several times per week to review calendars, discussion boards, and
upcoming deadlines. Distance learners have access to online tutoring and 24/7 Blackboard assistance.

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Website

4

Holmes Community College

Value Score

7.30

Holmes Community College is
a large, two-year school with five campuses throughout North Mississippi, as well as a thriving
eLearning program. Online HCC students may take courses from any of the member institutions, creating
dozens of degree options.

Courses are available during the fall, spring, and summer sessions, providing maximum flexibility. All
courses are taught by qualified faculty, many of whom hold advanced degrees in their fields. In-state
and out-of-state online learners pay the same cheap tuition rate, but out-of-state fees are slightly
higher. Holmes provides online education to students throughout the country and is authorized with every
state except Maryland.

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5

Albany Technical College

Value Score

7.25

Located in Southwest Georgia, Albany Tech provides online education to students throughout the nation. Founded
in 1961, the two-year institution has grown to accommodate more than 4,500 students, on-campus and
online. In addition to standard institutional accreditation, several of Albany’s programs have received
specialized programmatic accreditation.

Albany Tech currently offers nine fully online associate of applied science degrees, including business
logistics management, fire science technology, law enforcement technology, and marketing management.
Additional online opportunities are available, such as diploma programs and technical certificates.
Online coursework is delivered through the Blackboard learning management system, and online students
have access to 24/7 technical support.

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6

Cochise County Community College District

Value Score

7.23

Consistently recognized as one of the country’s best schools for online associate degree programs,
Arizona’s Cochise
County
provides innovative, forward-focused degree paths. The impressive array of associate
programs includes social and behavioral sciences, computer information systems, psychology, and
intelligence operations studies.

Cochise County maintains transfer agreements with three Arizona four-year institutions, as well as many
out-of-state colleges and universities. Cochise County first offered distance education in 1998, making
it a pioneering college for online learning. The college educates more than 2,500 online students at any
given time, creating a robust community to augment the learning experience. All classes are delivered
through Moodle.

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7

Hutchinson Community College

Value Score

7.02

Founded in 1928, Kansas’ Hutchinson Community College enrolls nearly 14,000 learners in on-campus and
online classes. In addition to 250 fully online courses, Hutchinson offers three online associate degree
paths. The associate of science is available in general education, while the associate of arts and the
associate of applied science each offer numerous majors, such as health information management, business
administrative technology, information technology in healthcare, and medical transcription.

Graduates of Hutchinson’s online programs are prepared to enter the workforce or to pursue further
education. Hutchinson offers some of the most affordable online degrees in Kansas, with discounted
tuition available for in-state students.

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8

North Dakota State College of Science

Value Score

6.93

ND State is a public two-year institution offering both career and technical
programs and a range of liberal arts degrees, along with a handful of certificates. ND State’s online
associate degree programs include health information technology, marketing management, paramedic
technology, and web design and development. Transfer paths in general liberal arts and general studies
are available to students intending to pursue a bachelor’s degree after graduation.

In addition to academic advising, online degree seekers benefit from 24/7 technology and Blackboard
support, online tutorials, SMARTTHINKING tutoring, and proctoring services for end-of-term exams. ND
State is authorized to educate distance learners in all states except Massachusetts.

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Website

9

Central Wyoming College

Value Score

6.92

Central Wyoming has campuses
in Riverton, Jackson, Lander, Dubois, and the Wind River Indian Reservation. For distance learners, the
institution has a bustling eLearning department. Completely online associate degree programs include
technical studies in entrepreneurship, technical studies in homeland security, criminal justice, and
business management.

Programs typically require 3 to 12 hours of weekly work per class. While online classes require the
same levels of rigor and dedication as on-campus classes, online classes are delivered asynchronously;
distance learners are not required to attend live meetings, making Central Wyoming a good choice for
working professionals. Discounted tuition is available for Wyoming residents.

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10

Cowley County Community College

Value Score

6.87

Cowley County online students
earn career, technical, and transfer degrees. The main campus is located in Arkansas City, but Cowley
County also has campuses in Winfield, Mulvane, and Wichita. The school offers more than 600 accredited
online classes and more than 30 online associate degree programs. Most programs are available as
associate of art or associate of applied science degrees; program options include creative writing,
entrepreneurship and business leadership, equine studies, and sports management/administration.

Online students earn their degrees on their own time, from any location, making Cowley County a great
option for degree seekers balancing professional and personal responsibilities. All Cowley County
students pay the same affordable tuition rate, and scholarships are available.

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Website

11

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

Value Score

6.87

A member of the Technical College System of Georgia, GPTC is a public two-year
institution serving the greater Atlanta area. The college’s online associate degree offerings include
education and new media, economic development, health professional services, and industrial and
transportation technologies, along with a new film academy program. GPTC currently enrolls more than
9,000 students, and online classes are available in fully online and hybrid formats.

Distance learners have access to academic advising, career coaching, Blackboard support, technology
support, proctored exam assistance, library services, and advising for students considering
post-graduation plans. Discounted tuition is available for Georgia residents.

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12

Atlanta Technical College

Value Score

6.75

A member of the Technical College System of Georgia, Atlanta Tech was originally
founded to educate GIs returning from World War II. Atlanta Tech currently enrolls 5,000 students in its
two Atlanta campuses and through the online learning portal. Online associate degree offerings include
business management, accounting, marketing management, and business and administrative technology.

The eCampus delivers hundreds of online classes that can be used toward associate degrees or transfer
agreements. Services offered to distance learners include GALILEO, the Georgia Library Learning Online
system, SMARTTHINKING online tutoring, technological support, and career advising. Online students
complete a comprehensive Blackboard orientation.

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13

Oklahoma State University-Oklahoma City

Value Score

6.74

Since the university operates within the Oklahoma State University System, Oklahoma State students benefit from a
massive amount of support and funding, while still enjoying personalized learning opportunities.
Oklahoma State enrolls approximately 9,000 students, allowing online degree seekers to build close
academic relationships with peers and professors without ever visiting campus. Associate degree online
programs include healthcare administration, general business management, management, police science, and
public service.

All online classes are taught entirely online by the same professors who lead on-campus classes,
ensuring distance learners receive the same high-quality education. Affordable tuition rates make
Oklahoma State a high-value option for online learning.

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14

Community Care College

Value Score

6.73

Founded in 1915 as a private school for dental assisting, Community Care now offers
numerous career-focused degree paths. Of the 11 degrees available, CCC offers 7 fully online. In
addition to programs in accounting, business and industry management, and early childhood education,
online degree seekers can study healthcare administration, medical assisting, medical billing and
coding, and paralegal studies.

CCC is known for providing extra support, such as resources and scholarships, to veterans and active
members of the armed forces. Members of Native American tribes are eligible for tribal funding. CCC
offers nine scholarships, with award amounts ranging from full tuition to $1,000 per semester.

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15

Arkansas Northeastern College

Value Score

6.65

Arkansas Northeastern offers
the lowest tuition in Arkansas, making it a stellar option for cost-conscious degree seekers. ANC offers
six associate degrees online, including general studies, criminal justice, business, criminology, and
early childhood education. A fully online associate of arts is also available and covers all core topics
necessary to transfer into a four-year program. Besides the AA, Arkansas Northeastern provides numerous
paths to help graduates pursue further education.

ANC boasts a diverse community, on-campus and online; approximately 30% of students identify as a
minority, and 55% of students are enrolled full time. Discounted per-credit tuition is available to
Arkansas residents.

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16

Ogeechee Technical College

Value Score

6.64

Located in Statesboro in East Central Georgia, Ogeechee Tech is a member of the Technical College System of Georgia, allowing the
two-year institution to provide a variety of associate degrees online and in hybrid formats. Fully
online associate degree options include accounting, business technology, criminal justice, and health
information management technology. Ogeechee Tech also offers online general education courses to help
students meet four-year programs’ transfer requirements.

Although distance learners must complete regular assignments, maintain steady communication with
professors, and participate in online class discussions, courses are delivered in a flexible
asynchronous format; students are never required to log in at specific times.

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Website

17

Western Wyoming Community College

Value Score

6.62

In addition to providing two-year degree options, Western Wyoming partners with Laramie’s University of Wyoming to offer a select
number of four-year programs. Although online learners are not required to visit campus, they are
welcome to explore the underground hallways that connect the entire campus. WWCC has emerged as a
distance education leader within Wyoming’s community college system, with associate degree online
programs including criminal justice, social science, social work, sociology, office information systems,
accounting, business administration, and computer information systems.

WWCC online programs are not self-paced; students must log in to their classes a minimum of three days
per week, for approximately nine hours. WWCC maintains transfer agreements with numerous four-year
institutions in the region and beyond.

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18

Western Texas College

Value Score

6.57

Along with its four main campuses, Western Texas College has an extensive distance learning department. Thanks to a
partnership with the Texas Association of Community College’s Virtual College of Texas, WTC offers a
myriad of online associate degrees and certificate programs. Along with courses offered by WTC, students
can enroll in online classes offered by other member schools, making it easy to complete a number of
degree programs—perfect for students seeking variety and flexible scheduling.

Students of WTC’s eCampus access online coursework through Moodle, including course materials,
assignments, and projects. Discounted tuition is available for students living within the district.

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Website

19

Northeast Community College

Value Score

6.52

Founded in 1973 to provide vocational and technical educations to students in northeast Nebraska, NCC is based in Norfolk and now
serves thousands of in-state and out-of-state students. NCC offers online associate of applied science
and associate of arts programs in areas such as international business, insurance services, agriculture,
and criminal justice. Students earning their associate degrees online are prepared to enter the
workforce or to pursue further education following graduation.

NCC employs highly qualified faculty and provides students with resources such as the academic support
center, counseling, career coaching, library services, disability assistance, and assistance finding
suitable proctored exam locations.

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20

State Fair Community College

Value Score

6.51

Located in Sedalia, Missouri, SFCC offers seven fully online associate degrees in various business and medical
fields, such as business management, diagnostic medical sonography, pharmacy technician, and medical
coding. SFCC’s online degrees have no on-campus requirements. While online bachelor’s degrees are not
yet available, SFCC offers distance courses in disciplines required to transfer into a four-year
program.

In addition to civilian courses, SFCC’s partnership with Community College of the Air Force General
Education Mobile program allows active members of the armed services to complete associate degrees
online. SFCC enrolls nearly 5,000 students annually, through six campuses and online.

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Website

21

Mid-Plains Community College

Value Score

6.51

Founded in 1975, after merging three vocational and technical schools, Mid-Plains has been a pioneer in online health services degrees. The distance
education department oversees the college’s associate degree online programs, such as criminal justice,
business administration, and library technical assistance. Mid-Plains also offers three programs
designed to meet academic transfer requirements.

Students benefit from small class sizes, personal education advisors, expert faculty members,
up-to-date technology, and financial aid. Online classes are delivered asynchronously; students log in
to complete assignments according to their schedules. Distance learners are not required to visit
campus, yet they have opportunities to interact with peers from throughout the country. Discounts on the
already affordable tuition rates are available for Nebraska residents.

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22

Bismarck State College

Value Score

6.50

A member of the North Dakota University System, Bismarck State is the third-largest higher education institution in the state. BSC
offers a number of associate degrees online, along with more than two dozen online bachelor’s programs.
Online associate in applied science degrees include nuclear power technology, petroleum production
technology, energy services and renewable technology, and water/wastewater technology. Many of BSC’s
degrees can be transferred to four-year institutions.

As a member of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges, BSC provides a range of services to veterans
and active military members. Resources available to online students include career advisement, academic
support, digital libraries, and technical support. Discounts on BSC’s affordable tuition are available
to residents of North Dakota and to military members.

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23

New Mexico Junior College

Value Score

6.47

From its rural, 200-acre campus, NMJC serves more than 3,000 students, including hundreds of distance learners. The
college currently offers three associate degrees online: an energy technology degree, a general
associate of arts, and a general associate of science. All three programs are designed to transfer to
four-year institutions, for students who plan to pursue further education.

Along with providing flexible degree programs for working professionals, NMJC prides itself on offering
affordable tuition, with in-state students receiving even lower tuition rates. Transfer students may
apply previously earned credits toward their degrees, but students must complete at least 15 credits at
NMJC.

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School Website

24

Great Basin College

Value Score

6.42

GBC in Elko offers associate and
bachelor’s degrees online, with options for both career and technical students, as well as for those who
plan to pursue further education. GBC’s Classes at a Distance program allows distance learners to follow
the same class schedule and learn from the same qualified professors as their campus-based peers.
Students earning associate degrees online study subjects such as early childhood education, graphic
communications, land surveying/geomatics, and entrepreneurship.

GBC offers AA, AS, and AAS programs, and classes area taught both synchronously and asynchronously; the
professor typically chooses the format. Students whose schedules may conflict with set class times
should discuss expectations with faculty before enrolling. GBC is a member of the Nevada System of
Higher Education.

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25

University of Alaska Fairbanks

Value Score

6.41

As the flagship campus of the University of Alaska System, UAF is a land-, sea-, and space-grant institution. In addition to providing
cutting-edge bachelor’s and graduate degrees, the eLearning department offers a number of associate
degree online programs, such as applied accounting, applied business, early childhood education,
information technology specialist, paralegal studies, and a general associate of arts.

Most programs are offered as associate of arts or associate of applied science degrees. UAF’s
affordable, fully online associate programs prepare students to move directly into careers or to pursue
further education. A virtual tour is available on the university’s website.

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26

Casper College

Value Score

6.36

Casper College, a public college in
Wyoming, is one of the largest two-year schools in the state, offering a wide range of associate degrees
online. Founded in 1945, this world-class community college enrolls 4,000 students annually. Associate
degree online programs include agri-business, fire science, hospitality and tourism management, and
office management.

Students choose from three start dates throughout the year, and Casper’s fully online associate
programs have no on-campus requirements. Online programs are both flexible and affordable; Casper offers
a lower tuition rate for online-only students. Local students may opt for a hybrid program, which
combines online and campus-based learning.

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27

Williston State College

Value Score

6.35

Williston State, a North Dakota University System institution, provides associate
and bachelor’s degrees online. The college was established in 1961 to offer general, technical, and
vocational educations. WSC enrolls approximately 1,000 students annually, encouraging close student
relationships with peers and faculty. WSC offers general associate degrees online, which are available
as AA and AS programs and are designed to transfer to four-year institutions. Also available are AAS
degrees in accounting, business management, mental health and addictions, and language-speech pathology
assistance.

WSC delivers online coursework through Moodle and utilizes Blackboard’s web conferencing and instant
messaging tools and other cutting-edge learning technologies. Online students have access to Hippo
Campus, which provides thousands of free video tutorials.

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28

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

Value Score

6.32

Originally founded in 1912 as an agricultural school, MGCCC now has eight campuses and a thriving eLearning program. MGCCC’s rural
location makes eLearning a large part of the college’s mission; MGCCC is continually working to expand
its online offerings. Students earn associate degrees online in areas such as business, elementary
education, accounting technology, and office systems technology. MGCCC also offers four online
bachelor’s degrees, such as American studies, general studies, and science.

Online students earn the same number of credits per class as on-campus students, and distance learners’
transcripts and diplomas show no distinction. Online learners have access to 24/7 academic and technical
support.

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29

Lanier Technical College

Value Score

6.31

Located in North Georgia, Lanier Tech enrolls 27,000 students in seven Georgia counties and throughout the
country. LTC is a member of the Technical College System of Georgia and partners with other schools in
the state, allowing online students to take advantage of course offerings from multiple institutions.
LTC’s seven online associate degrees include technical management, business technology, emergency
management, and fire science technology, as well as an interdisciplinary studies program, which provides
a liberal arts foundation.

Coursework is delivered through Blackboard, and students can use the SmarterMeasure tool to assess the
probability of their success in an online class prior to enrolling.

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30

Eastern Wyoming College

Value Score

6.29

Eastern Wyoming is a small, public community
college with a range of distance learning options. The Torrington-based institution offers online
associate degrees such as business administration, criminal justice, early childhood education,
elementary education, and interdisciplinary studies. All programs are designed to transfer to four-year
institutions, creating smooth transitions for students who pursue further education after graduating
from EWC.

Courses are taught both synchronously, using web conferencing, and asynchronously, using recorded
lectures. Students with time constraints should contact EWC to learn more about scheduling
considerations. Distance learning services include an online library, a bookstore, tutoring, and
academic support. EWC’s affordable per-credit tuition is discounted for Wyoming residents.

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31

Wayne Community College

Value Score

6.25

Although WCC enrolls more than 14,000
students at its Goldsboro campus and online, this North Carolina institution provides individualized
educational support to each student. Originally founded in 1958 as an industrial education center, WCC
offers a wide range of online associate degree programs, with AAS options including accounting, business
administration, criminal justice technology, emergency management technology, medical office
administration, and general office administration. General education programs are available, along with
AS and AA programs that transfer easily to four-year institutions.

Online students typically devote 10 to 15 weekly hours per class. All coursework is delivered through
Moodle, and distance learners have access to LMS webinars and tech support. Prospective students may
learn about WCC through the college’s social media channels.

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32

Sheridan College

Value Score

6.23

Operated by the Northern Wyoming Community College District, Sheridan College has
campuses in Sheridan and Gillette, along with satellite programs throughout the state. For a small
school, Sheridan offers an impressive range of online associate degrees, including computer information
systems and cyber security, early childhood education, and social sciences. A general studies program
allows students to complete the general education requirements of a bachelor’s degree prior to
transferring to a four-year institution.

Online students have access to Sheridan’s Student HelpZone, an interactive platform that provides
technical assistance and information. Discounted tuition is available to Wyoming residents and to
residents of states within the Western Undergraduate Exchange.

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33

Liberty University

Value Score

6.22

As the largest Christian university in the world, Liberty University in Virginia enrolls approximately 80,000 distance learners each
year. Liberty offers an impressive number of online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, in
addition to a range of online associate programs such as accounting, education, healthcare management,
paralegal studies, and religious studies. General education programs are also available. Liberty is a
private institution, but 87% of students receive financial aid, making Liberty an affordable option for
online learning.

Online classes are self-paced, so students with busy or unpredictable schedules can progress through
coursework and turn in assignments at their convenience, making Liberty ideal for those with
professional or personal commitments.

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34

Lenoir Community College

Value Score

6.22

LCC in Kinston is a member of the
58-institution North Carolina Community College System; the partnership provides LCC with extensive
resources, while maintaining the small enrollment that ensures personalized learning opportunities.
Because of this agreement, LCC offers a wide range of online associate degrees, including aviation
management, business administration marketing, emergency medical science, occupational education, and
supply chain management global logistics.

To ensure distance learners receive the same quality education as on-campus students, LCC’s online
programs employ technologies such as Moodle, Lancer, and WebAdvisor. Online students have access to
tutoring services, and discounts on the already cheap tuition are available for North Carolina
residents.

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35

Taft College

Value Score

6.21

California’s Taft College,
a well-respected public two-year school, is building a name for itself in distance education. Taft
currently offers four online associate degrees: criminal justice administration (corrections focus),
criminal justice administration (non-corrections focus), liberal arts, and early childhood education.
Online programs in business administration and liberal studies are in development.

Distance learners may begin their studies during fall, spring, or summer semesters. Each term features
different class options. Class enrollment is capped at 35 students to ensure each learner has the
opportunity to participate and interact with peers and instructors. Coursework is delivered through
Canvas, a learning management platform.

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36

Tulsa Community College

Value Score

6.21

Tulsa Community College, located in Oklahoma, enrolls approximately 30,000
students each year. TCC’s online associate degrees are divided into three schools: business and
information technology, liberal arts and communication, and science and mathematics. TCC’s 16 online
associate programs include information technology, management, liberal arts with an international track,
and mathematics, along with programs educating future elementary and secondary teachers.

Aside from fully online programs, TCC offers blended programs for local students who want to take some
classes on campus. Every new distance learner must complete an online student orientation to become
familiar with the learning management system, the course delivery, and the various services and support
systems.

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37

Foothill College

Value Score

6.19

Foothill College is a California-based two-year
institution with an impressive number of notable alumni—MLB players, actresses, artists, authors,
athletes, musicians, university chancellors, and even the founder of Mrs. Fields Confections. Foothill’s
online programs provide the same quality education as on-campus programs, while allowing maximum
flexibility for nontraditional students. Foothill offers 14 online associate of arts programs, including
anthropology, art history, graphic and interactive design, and music technology.

Each program is designed so that coursework transfers seamlessly into bachelor’s programs, allowing
graduates who pursue four-year degrees to immediately begin upper-level classes. California residents
receive discounts on the already affordable per-credit tuition rate.

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38

Surry Community College

Value Score

6.16

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina, Surry Community College is
a public two-year institution catering to nearly 20,000 learners. Surry provides eight online associate
degrees, including AA, AS, and AAS programs in advertising and graphic design technology, criminal
justice technology, early childhood education, and office administration. A number of online certificate
programs are available to help distance learners specialize their knowledge.

New online students are required to complete a Moodle learning management platform orientation prior to
the start of classes. Discounts on the already affordable tuition rate are available to North Carolina
residents.

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39

Southwestern Assemblies of God University

Value Score

6.12

SAGU is a private Christian university in the suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth. The
university enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students annually. SAGU provides
religious and liberal arts educations, offering 13 online associate degrees that prepare graduates to
enter the workforce or to pursue further education. Online associate degree programs at SAGU include
addictions counseling, church ministries, intercultural studies, religious studies, and teaching English
to speakers of other languages. SAGU is the only Assemblies of God higher education facility in Texas
and is the alma mater of numerous well-known ministers and public figures. Applicants must be at least
22 years of age.

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40

Davenport University

Value Score

6.12

In addition to online bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Michigan’s Davenport University offers a
number of online associate degrees through its Global Campus. Davenport offers two associate of applied
science degrees online: a networking technology program and a computer information systems program,
which are both designed to prepare students for quick entry into the workforce.

Online courses are delivered both asynchronously, using pre-recorded lectures in Blackboard Learn, and
synchronously, employing real-time virtual learning that requires students to engage with peers and
instructors using the Blackboard Collaborate platform. Recognized as a Yellow Ribbon school, Davenport
provides resources for active service members and veterans of the armed forces.

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41

Forsyth Technical Community College

Value Score

6.11

With more than a dozen locations throughout North Carolina and a thriving online learning community, Forsyth
Tech
enrolls approximately 36,000 students each year. Praised by former President Barack Obama for
supporting low-income students in low-opportunity areas, FTCC is committed to making education
accessible and affordable. FTCC recognizes that not all students can visit campus multiple times per
week and offers online associate degrees tailored to unpredictable schedules, including programs in
international business, logistics management, entrepreneurship, financial services, and global logistics
technology. FTCC also offers online certificates.

Distance learners have access to academic advising, career coaching, technical support, and a growing
digital library. North Carolina residents receive a discounted per-credit tuition rate.

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Website

42

Central Georgia Technical College

Value Score

6.08

Central Georgia
Tech
is accredited to provide certificates, diplomas, and associate degrees to online students
throughout the country. The public two-year institution enrolls approximately 6,500 students, many of
whom take advantage of the flexibility afforded by online learning. CGTC offers online associate degrees
such as technical studies, banking and finance, website design and development, drafting technology, and
geographic information systems.

Because CGTC is a member of the Georgia Virtual Technical Connection, students have access to online
courses and programs from 22 other member institutions. Prospective students are encouraged to complete
an online learning self-assessment through SmarterMeasure. Discounted tuition rates are available to
Georgia residents.

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43

Hazard Community and Technical College

Value Score

6.08

Of the approximately 3,200 students enrolled at HCTC, 1,440 are
distance learners. Popular online associate programs include business administration systems, criminal
justice, and health information technology. Online students also pursue degrees in medical information
technology and general associate in arts and associate in science degrees. Many online degrees offer
specializations; for example, the medical information technology degree offers concentrations in medical
administration, medical coding, electronic medical records, and medical transcription.

Applicants should be self-motivated, self-directed learners who are familiar with technology. Online
students typically spend 9 to 12 weekly hours per class listening to lectures, participating in
discussions, and completing assignments.

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44

Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion

Value Score

6.03

Since 1920, Indiana
Wesleyan
has provided evangelical Christian educations focused on the liberal arts. With nearly
16,000 students enrolled annually, IWU is the largest private higher education institution in Indiana
and is the largest member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. IWU hosted its first
online class in 1997, and today, nearly half of all IWU students are distance learners. As a four-year
institution, IWU provides more than 90 online programs, including eight online associate degrees. Online
students pursue degrees in accounting, business, computer information technology, Christian ministries,
early childhood education, and criminal justice.

IWU has a 95% admissions rate. Although IWU is a private institution, it distributes approximately $143
million in financial aid annually.

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45

West Valley College

Value Score

6.03

West Valley College is one of the 112
campuses comprising the California Community College System. Originally established in 1963, WVC
currently enrolls nearly 15,000 students. With more than 150 online courses offered each semester,
students pursue online associate degrees in business, education, criminal justice, and general
education.

WVC alumni include notable individuals in athletics, the sciences, entertainment, and journalism. WVC
provides resources and services related to ADA and accessibility. Videos are available to educate
prospective students about distance learning opportunities and to ensure that WVC is the right school
for them. Prospective students can follow WVC’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube accounts.

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Website

46

Amarillo College

Value Score

6.03

Founded in 1929, Amarillo College is a public two-year institution serving students throughout
Texas and the country. AC offers online associate degree programs such as business administration,
criminal justice, general studies, psychology, and radiation therapy. A mortuary science certificate for
future funeral directors is also available online. Other than the radiation therapy program, all online
programs are offered as associate of science degrees and apply toward general education requirements at
four-year institutions.

Some programs may be completed in a hybrid format, in which students take half of their classes at one
of AC’s brick-and-mortar campuses. All of the online courses are taught asynchronously, with no
on-campus requirements.

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47

Georgia Northwestern Technical College

Value Score

6.02

With its flexible distance degrees, GNTC ensures online students have access to the latest technologies and constantly
updated plans of study. All of GNTC’s fully online degrees are associate of applied science programs,
including accounting, business technology, business management, and website design and development.
Other online programs, such as health information management technology, marketing management, medical
assisting, and social work assisting, may require students to take on-campus courses. GNTC is a member
of the Technical College System of Georgia, allowing students to take courses offered by other
participating institutions. Discounts on GNTC’s affordable tuition rate are available for Georgia
residents.

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48

Lake Region State College

Value Score

6.01

Founded in 1941 and accredited in 1973, Lake Region State
is a two-year co-educational college located in Devils Lake, North Dakota. Graduates of LRSC’s
comprehensive programs are prepared to pursue bachelor’s degrees or enter the workforce. LRSC offers a
wide range of online associate degrees, including business administration, early childhood education,
fitness training, law enforcement, speech language pathology, and a general education associate in arts.

LRSC is authorized to provide distance education to residents of 38 states, and it maintains partial
authorization in four additional states. Residents of Alabama, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah may not enroll in LRSC’s distance education programs.

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49

Northwest Iowa Community College

Value Score

6.01

NICC offers a variety of online associate degrees, providing students with a
high-quality, flexible distance education. DNICC’s range of fully online degrees includes associate of
arts pre-professional programs in areas of education, history, human services, wellness management, and
psychology. An associate of science in computer science and an associate of applied science in health
information technology and agriculture are also available.

Because NICC maintains partnerships with other community colleges, students can enroll in online
classes offered by other Iowa institutions. Online students have access to resources such as academic
advisors, the digital library, tutoring services, career resources, and distance learning professionals.

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Website

50

Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

Value Score

6.01

With nearly 20 campuses throughout Florida, Keiser
University
educates tens of thousands of students each year. The private, nonprofit university is
a leader in distance education, with online associate, bachelor’s, and master’s programs available.
Online associate degree programs include accounting, health services administration, homeland security,
medical administrative billing and coding, and paralegal studies. Keiser’s AS and AA programs transfer
easily to four-year institutions, perfect for students who intend to pursue further education.

Academic advisors, librarians, professors, and student support professionals guide and support online
students throughout their education. With a large alumni population, new graduates benefit from an
instant networking circle.

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When conducting your search for the right online associate degree, an important factor to consider is the
accreditation status of each program or institution. Accreditation confirms the efficacy of a program and is a key
requirement for transitioning into a bachelor’s program.

Schools and degree programs can either be regionally or nationally
accredited
. While regional accreditation is considered to be more prestigious, many nationally-accredited
schools also offer exceptional quality and tend to have lower tuition rates. Certain programs may also be
independently accredited by relevant organizations within a specific industry.

While tuition rates may vary from school to school, you can typically find the cheapest online associate degree
programs at two-year public institutions. These schools are commonly known as community, junior, or technical
colleges, and offer students opportunities to earn a two-year degree that positions them for a career or further
study within a bachelor’s degree-level program.

In many cases, students can find cheap associate’s degree online programs that allow them to receive the
same educational experience as their on-campus counterparts but at a lower cost. Not only are tuition rates
typically lower for online students, but there are also savings in the form of reduced costs for childcare,
commuting, and purchasing books. However, some schools require online students to pay a technology fee as part of
their enrollment costs.

Students who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree can benefit from starting their post-secondary studies
through a cheap online associate degree program. Earning some college credit in an associate program and then
transferring that credit to a four-year school can significantly reduce the amount you have to spend on tuition
rates.

Additionally, many public four-year schools allow students to easily transfer credits earned in an associate
degree towards the completion of a bachelor’s degree. College and universities often form partnerships with
two-year schools in an effort to attract more high-achieving students into their programs.

If you are unsure about whether transitioning into a bachelor’s degree program is right for you, consider
this: individuals with four-year degrees make, on average, about 26% more in annual salary than those with an
associate degree only. Below you’ll find more information on these salary differences for some select
careers:

Associate of Arts (AA): An AA degree provides students with a general liberal arts academic
experience, with a particular focus on social science and the humanities. A foreign language course is often
required.

Associate of Science (AS): Students pursuing an AS degree usually take more general education
courses focused on mathematics and science. An AS is a good choice for those who plan to transfer into a
bachelor’s of science program in the future.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS): An AAS is similar to an AA or AS, but is meant for students
who plan on starting their careers upon receiving their associate degree. Common AAS careers include nursing,
accounting, and paralegal studies.

Earning an online associate degree can open the door to a wide variety of high-paying careers.
In fact, it is advantageous in some career paths to earn an associate degree instead of a bachelor’s degree.

Below is a list of the top 10 highest-paying positions for individuals who hold an online associate degree. This
list is meant to provide you with a starting point as you research online associates degree options.

Although an online associate’s degree is one of the most affordable options for taking the next step in
one’s academic and professional career, many students still need assistance pay for tuition. Many colleges
and universities offer numerous resources for students when it comes to financial aid, allowing them to cover the
costs of going to school without assuming large amounts of debt in the process. Scholarships are also offered by
organizations and private citizens.

The first step you should take is to fill out a FAFSA form. This will help you determine if you qualify for
federal aid, including grants, subsidized loans, and work study benefits. However, you will need to be enrolled in
an online associate’s degree program that is nationally or regionally accredited by a recognized accreditation
agency before receiving any type of aid from the U.S. government.

Visit our Affordability Center to learn more about
financial aid and to view our extensive catalogue of scholarships.

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