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An associate degree is an undergraduate degree awarded after a course of post-secondary study lasting two to three years. It is a level of qualification above a high school diploma, GED, or matriculation, and below a bachelor's degree.
The first associate degrees were awarded in the UK (where they are no longer awarded) in 1873 before spreading to the US in 1898. In the United States, the associate degree may allow transfer into the third year of a bachelor's degree.  Associate degrees have since been introduced in a small number of other countries.
In 2004, Australia added "associate degree" to the Australian Qualifications Framework.  This title was given to courses more academically focused than advanced diploma courses, and typically designed to articulate to bachelor's degree courses. 
In Brazil, undergraduate degrees are known as graduação ('graduate') while graduate degrees are known as pós-graduação ('postgraduate'). Brazil follows the major traits of the continental European system; free public schools are available from kindergarten up to postgraduate degrees, both as a right established in Article 6, caput of the Brazilian Constitution and as a duty of the State in Article 208, Items I, IV, and V, of the Brazilian Constitution. 
In 2001, Brazil added tecnólogo ('technologist') as a form of undergraduate degree (graduação). A technologist's degree varies between 2 and 3 years of full time studies to complete. This degree takes a shorter time period to obtain than a bachelor or teaching degree (some of which may take between 4 and 6 years to complete), and it aims to provide highly specialized knowledge (e.g., agribusiness technical degree, tourism management degree, web development technical degree, etc.). 
Education in the Canadian federation is a provincial power: each province and territory regulates tertiary education and degree system in their jurisdictions, with pan-Canadian co-ordination in a Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. British Columbia   is the only Canadian province offering American-style associate degrees.  Similar to the U.S., these consist of a two-year program and allow for articulation onto the third year of a bachelor's degree program. Other provinces do not offer associate degrees but do offer similar higher education qualifications below the bachelor's level: These are two-year courses resulting in a diploma in a broad range of technical, professional and academic subjects. Articulation into bachelor’s programs are the norm but can differ by subject (with some specialties rarer among bachelor's). Ontario also offers three-year advanced diplomas which are not considered as associate degrees.  The territories have fewer but similar diploma programs, some being particularly geared to Arctic environments, and northern Indigenous cultures and languages, with bachelor’s programs being a mix of local provision, partnerships with institutions based elsewhere in Canada and international consortia. Indigenous nations in most provinces have education systems also provide First Nations-focused diplomas programs, with North American Aboriginal education bodies. In Quebec, the Diplôme d'études collégiales (diploma of college studies), taught at post-secondary collèges d'enseignement général et professionnel (colleges of general and professional education; cégeps) can be a two-year pre-university qualification that is a pre-requisite for entry into the bachelor's degree. However, because a bachelor's degree in Quebec takes 3 years to complete instead of 4 years, it can be thought as an articulation onto the second year of a standard north american bachelor's degree program. Quebec also has a three-year Cégep technical programme preparing students for employment. 
Qualifications on the short cycle of the Bologna Process/level 5 on the European Qualifications Framework sit between secondary education and bachelor's degree level and are thus approximately equivalent to an associate degree. Such qualifications include the Foundation degree (FdA, FdSc, FdEng), Certificate of Higher Education (CertHE) and Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) in the United Kingdom,  the Higher Certificate in the Republic of Ireland,  and the French Diplôme universitaire de Technologie (DUT) and Brevet de Technicien supérieur (BTS). 
For many decades, a diploma comparable to an associate degree was considered a very adequate degree for those willing to work as qualified technicians. Yet as the general population spends an increasing amount of time studying, they are no longer as attractive to students who wish to distinguish themselves.  In 2021, the Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie (DUT) was reframed as an intermediate degree part of a three-year curriculum now referred to as BUT.  Prior to the reform of 2006, universities awarded a two-year diploma called DEUG, the purpose of which was also to help the student pursue studies in a field that differed from what was initially intended. The degree was considered a 'stepping stone' ahead of the completion of a bachelor's degree. Aside from the Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS) which remains relevant in many fields for which long academic studies are not deemed crucial  and for which young professionals are in demand, degrees comparable to an associate degree are gradually being phased out, although their legitimacy remains in theory (but not always in practice  ) unchanged for those who were awarded one in the past.
In the Netherlands, there were four pilots between 2005 and 2011 to assess the added value of the associate degree.  In 2007 the associate degree was added to the Dutch system of higher education within the Higher Professional Education (HBO) stream taught at universities of applied sciences (hogeschool). Associate degree courses form part of HBO bachelor's degree courses, and advising requirements are the same for the two-year associate degree and the related four-year bachelor's degree. Those gaining the associate degree may proceed to an HBO bachelor's degree in only two years, but it does not articulate to bachelor's degrees in the research-oriented (WO) stream. 
The title of Associate in Physical Science (Associate in Science (ASc) from 1879) was introduced in 1865 by the University of Durham College of Physical Sciences (now Newcastle University) and awarded from 1873.   It required (in 1884) passes in three of mathematics, physics, chemistry and geology, and allowed students to go on to take the examination for the Bachelor of Science.  As a university-level qualification lying below the bachelor's degree, this is considered to be the world's first associate degree in the modern sense, having been first awarded 25 years prior to the introduction of associate degrees into the US by the University of Chicago.   The ASc was withdrawn in 1904.  Durham also introduced an Associate in Theology (ATh) in 1901, which was only offered in 1901 and 1902.  Yorkshire College (now the University of Leeds) offered Associate in Engineering and Associate in Coal Mining degrees from 1877 and there were thirteen different types of associate degrees offered in British universities in 1927. 
The title of Associate in Arts, introduced by the University of Oxford in 1857 and sometimes referred to as the degree of Associate in Arts, predates the Durham degree. However, it was an examination for "those who are not members of the university" and who were under the age of 18; as such it was at the level of a high school qualification rather than a modern associate degree. Examinations were held in English, languages, mathematics, science, drawing and music, with the title being conferred on those students who passed any two (as long as the two were not drawing and music). 
British equivalents to associate degrees vary depending on the national system which issued them. Based on assessment by the UK NARIC, American and Canadian associate degrees are considered equivalent to one year higher education courses such as the Higher National Certificate at level 4 of the British Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. Australian associate degrees, however, are considered equivalent to two-year higher education courses such as the Higher National Diploma at level 5 on the framework. 
A 2–2.5 year education on BA-level is called "Erhvervsakademiuddannelse". This is called an AP-Degree (Academy Professional Degree) in English.
In Czech republic one achieves the title DiS. "Diplomovaný specialista" (Certificated Specialist).
A two-year education on BA-level is called Høgskolekandidat, translated "university college graduate".  Only a few professions require 120 ECTS, e.g. piano tuner, driving instructor.
A 2–2.5 year education on BA-level is called an AP-Degree (Academy Professional Degree). See also: List of universities and colleges in Sweden. Business academies offer two-year academy profession programmes; some business academies also offer professional bachelor programmes, further adult education and diploma programmes.
In Hong Kong, associate degrees were first introduced into the territory in 2000 with the aim of increasing the number of students with post-secondary qualifications.  As originally introduced, the qualification took two or three years, but this was reformed in 2012 to a two-year course. The associate degree is designed as a general academic education qualification, compared to the more vocational Diploma/Higher/Advanced Diploma (Qualifications Frameworks Level 4), and allows articulation onto the third year of a four-year (US-style) bachelor's degree or the second year of a three-year (British-style) bachelor's degree.  A survey in 2016 showed that most students believe associate degrees will help them to get onto bachelor's degree courses, but not (by themselves) in gaining a career; however only 30% of associate degree graduates gained places for further study, leading to accusations that the degree is "a waste of time and money" and calls for the government to address this by making more bachelor's degree places available.  [ better source needed ] This has been criticized, with others saying that education had benefits beyond income, which is only a short-term measure. 
An associate degree is called a carrera técnica, tecnicatura or Técnico Superior Universitario (TSU) in Hispanic America, while a bachelor's degree would be known as a licenciatura or ingeniería.
An associate degree is called a önlisans derecesi in Turkey, while a bachelor's degree would be known as a lisans derecesi . 
In the United States, an associate degree (or an associate's degree)  is an academic degree awarded after two or more years of study at a community college, technical college, vocational school, Bible college, or university. Associate degrees are generally awarded after completion of sixty semester or ninety quarter college credits.
The two most commonly awarded associate degrees are the Associate of Arts (sometimes Associate in Arts) (AA) and Associate of Science (sometimes Associate in Science) (AS) degrees. 
AA degrees are usually earned in the liberal arts and sciences such as humanities and social science fields; AS degrees are awarded to those studying in applied scientific and technical fields and professional fields of study. Generally, one year of study is focused on college level general education in disciplines such as Communications, English, History, Mathematics, Natural Science, and Social Science, and the second year is focused on the area of a student's major.
Students who complete a technical, professional, or vocational program can often earn a terminal associate degree such as the Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) (sometimes Associate in Applied Arts) or the Associate of Applied Science (sometimes Associate in Applied Science) (AAS). 
Transfer admissions in the United States sometimes allows courses taken and credits earned on an AA or AS to be counted toward a bachelor's degree via articulation agreements or recognition of prior learning, depending on the courses taken, applicable state laws/regulations, and the transfer requirements of the university. 
Common associate-level degree titles include: 
The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act was signed into legislation on September 29, 2010, which is a legislation that grants any California Community College student who has earned the Associate in Arts degree for Transfer (AA-T) or the Associate in Science degree for Transfer (AS-T) will be granted priority admission to the CSU (California State University) into a similar baccalaureate (BA) degree program with a guarantee of junior standing. 
The University of Chicago was established in 1891 with four groups of colleges – liberal arts, literature, science, and practical arts (later commerce and administration). These were subdivided into 'junior' (or 'academic') and 'senior' (or 'university') colleges. Bachelor's degrees were awarded by the senior colleges, and certificates were initially awarded by the junior colleges. In 1899 the board of trustees voted to replace these certificates with associate degrees (Associate in Arts, Associate in Literature, and Associate in Science), which were first awarded in 1900. Eells concludes that it is "not unlikely" that people at Chicago knew of the associate degrees being awarded in the United Kingdom, but there is no direct evidence of this. Chicago discontinued its associate degrees in 1918. 
The associate degree spread across the US, with California College in Oakland (now the American Baptist Seminary of the West) introducing Associate in Arts and Associate in Letters degrees in 1900, and the Lewis Institute in Chicago (now part of the Illinois Institute of Technology) introducing Associate in Literature and Associate in Science degrees in 1901 (both replaced by the Associate in Arts in 1904) followed by the Associate in Domestic Economy degree in 1908. Associate degrees were not always two-year sub-bachelor's awards in the early 20th century: Harvard University and associated colleges awarded Associate in Arts degrees to students who had passed university extension courses "equal in number and standard to the courses required of a resident student for the degree of Bachelor of Arts" from 1910 to 1933. 
By 1918, 23% of junior colleges were awarding Associate in Arts degrees. By 1941–42, 40% of junior colleges awarded some form of associate degree, and by 1960 this had grown to 75%, with 137 different associate degrees in use. Over a third of associate degrees awarded in the US in 1958–59 were granted by Californian junior colleges. 
Two year associate degrees are found throughout the West Indies. They are offered by regional organisations such as the Caribbean Examinations Council  and the University of the West Indies,  and at institutions of higher education in particular, within The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados,  Jamaica,  and St. Kitts and Nevis,  among others.
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of one. A college may be a degree-awarding tertiary educational institution, a part of a collegiate or federal university, an institution offering vocational education, or a secondary school.
A community college is a type of educational institution. The term can have different meanings in different countries: many community colleges have an "open enrollment" for students who have graduated from high school. The term usually refers to a higher educational institution that provides workforce education and college transfer academic programs. Some institutions maintain athletic teams and dormitories similar to their university counterparts.
An academic degree is a qualification awarded to students upon successful completion of a course of study in higher education, usually at a college or university. These institutions commonly offer degrees at various levels, usually including undergraduate degrees, master's, and doctorates, often alongside other academic certificates and professional degrees. The most common undergraduate degree is the bachelor's degree, although in some countries there are lower-level higher education qualifications that are also titled degrees.
A master's degree is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities or colleges upon completion of a course of study demonstrating mastery or a high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice. A master's degree normally requires previous study at the bachelor's level, either as a separate degree or as part of an integrated course. Within the area studied, master's graduates are expected to possess advanced knowledge of a specialized body of theoretical and applied topics; high order skills in analysis, critical evaluation, or professional application; and the ability to solve complex problems and think rigorously and independently.
A bachelor's degree or baccalaureate is an undergraduate academic degree awarded by colleges and universities upon completion of a course of study lasting three to six years. The two most common bachelor's degrees are the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and the Bachelor of Science. In some institutions and educational systems, certain bachelor's degrees can only be taken as graduate or postgraduate educations after a first degree has been completed, although more commonly the successful completion of a bachelor's degree is a prerequisite for further courses such as a master's or a doctorate.
Undergraduate education is education conducted after secondary education and before postgraduate education. It typically includes all postsecondary programs up to the level of a bachelor's degree. For example, in the United States, an entry-level university student is known as an undergraduate, while students of higher degrees are known as graduate students. Upon completion of a number of required and elective courses as part of an undergraduate program, the student would earn the corresponding degree. In some other educational systems, undergraduate education is postsecondary education up to and including the level of a master's degree; this is the case for some science courses in Britain and some medicine courses in Europe.
A diploma is a document awarded by an educational institution testifying the recipient has graduated by successfully completing their courses of studies. Historically, it has also referred to a charter or official document of diplomacy.
The British undergraduate degree classification system is a grading structure for undergraduate degrees or bachelor's degrees and integrated master's degrees in the United Kingdom. The system has been applied in other countries and regions.
A graduate diploma is generally a qualification taken after completion of a first degree, although the level of study varies in different countries from being at the same level as the final year of a bachelor's degree to being at a level between a master's degree and a doctorate. In some countries the graduate diploma and postgraduate diploma are synonymous, while in others the postgraduate diploma is a higher qualification.
A higher diploma is an academic award in Iraq, Libya, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland and Oman. In Iraq, it's one year after bachelor's degree. In Ireland it is a postgraduate qualification at the same level as the honours bachelor's degree. In the United Kingdom, the diploma is equivalent to higher tier (A*-C) GCSE.
A postgraduate diploma is a postgraduate qualification awarded after a university degree, which supplements the original degree and awards them with a graduate diploma. Countries that award postgraduate diplomas include but are not limited to Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Germany, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Spain, Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, India, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Republic of Panama the Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Sri Lanka, Trinidad and Tobago and Zimbabwe. Level of education and recognition differ per issuing country.
Higher National Diploma (HND), part of the Higher Nationals suite of qualifications, is an academic higher education qualification in the United Kingdom and various other countries. They were first introduced in England and Wales in 1920 alongside the Ordinary National Diploma and the Higher National Certificate. A qualification of the same title is also offered in Argentina, Brunei, India, Malta, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, and some other countries with British ties.
An engineer's degree is an advanced academic degree in engineering which is conferred in Europe, some countries of Latin America, North Africa and a few institutions in the United States. The degree may require a thesis but always requires a non-abstract project.
The Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) specifies the standards for educational qualifications in Australia. It is administered nationally by the Australian Government's Department of Industry, with oversight from the States and Territories, through the Standing Council of Tertiary Education Skills and Employment. While the AQF specifies the standards, education and training organisations are authorised by accrediting authorities to issue a qualification.
Honours degree has various meanings in the context of different degrees and education systems. Most commonly it refers to a variant of the undergraduate bachelor's degree containing a larger volume of material or a higher standard of study, or both, rather than an "ordinary", "general" or "pass" bachelor's degree. Honours degrees are sometimes indicated by "Hons" after the degree abbreviation, with various punctuation according to local custom, e.g. "BA (Hons)", "B.A., Hons", etc. In Canada, honours degrees may be indicated with an "H" preceding the degree abbreviation, e.g. "HBA" for Honours Bachelor of Arts or Honours Business Administration.
A Diploma of Higher Education (DipHE) is a higher education qualification in the United Kingdom.
The Licentiate in Theology or Licence in Theology is a non-degree qualification in theology awarded in Canada and previously awarded in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
An academic certificate is a document that certifies that a person has received specific education or has passed a test or series of tests.
In the UK education sector, there are a wide range of qualification types offered by the United Kingdom awarding bodies. Qualifications range in size and type, can be academic, vocational or skills-related, and are grouped together into different levels of difficulty. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, which are on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and are awarded by bodies with degree awarding powers, and Regulated qualifications, which are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and are accredited by Ofqual in England, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland and Qualifications Wales in Wales. In Scotland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, Scottish Qualifications Authority qualifications and Scottish Vocational Qualifications/Modern Apprenticeships, which are on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Scottish Higher Education Qualifications are on both the SCQF and the FHEQ.
A graduate certificate is an educational credential representing completion of specialized training at the college or university level. A graduate certificate can be awarded by universities upon completion of certain coursework indicating mastering of a specific subject area. Graduate certificates represent training at different levels in different countries and can be at bachelor's degree or master's degree level.
The world's first associate's degree, the associate in science, was awarded by England's University of Durham in 1873. The University of Chicago awarded the first American associate's degree in 1898. It offered associate in arts, associate in literature, and associate in science degrees.