Most Affordable Online Associate Degree Programs Ranked for 2022

Most Affordable Online Associate Degree Programs Ranked for 2022

We rank the most affordable online associate degrees for both in-state and out-of-state students.

Key Takeaways

  • The online associate degree is a cost-effective way to earn an undergraduate degree. Most community colleges offer highly affordable two-year degree programs online.

  • Online associate degrees are available in a full spectrum of popular disciplines including business administration, early childhood education, criminal justice, and more.

  • Students who earn an online associate degree can qualify for a wide range of entry level opportunities in the workforce. Many students also continue into online bachelor’s degree programs in related subject areas.

The online associate degree is among the most affordable ways to earn an undergraduate degree. Online associate degree programs are typically offered in an extremely wide range of popular subjects including the associate degree in business administration, computer science, early childhood education, and much more. But how can you be sure you’re getting the cheapest online associate degree?

We rank the most affordable online associate degree programs so you can get started on your higher education without taking on a costly tuition bill or hefty student loan debts.

An Overview of the Associate Degree

What is an Associate Degree?

An associate degree is a two-year degree that can be earned at state community colleges, vocational schools, and most accredited colleges and universities.

What will I study with an associate degree?

The associate degree provides an introductory level college education. You will usually take an array of liberal arts or humanities courses along with introductory level courses in a specific subject area. Most associate degree programs are available to both on campus students and online students.

Why get an associate degree?

There are several good reasons to get an associate degree. An associate degree is an affordable and accessible way to get a college education while improving your earning potential. The associate degree is popular both among students looking for entry-level work in their field, and for those who are already working.

The online degree is particularly popular at the associate level because so many students must balance work responsibilities and studies. Online courses and complete online programs make it possible for students to earn associate credits and degrees without disrupting daily work responsibilities.

The associate is also a far more affordable and accessible alternative to earning a bachelor’s degree. The associate degree takes about half as long to earn as a bachelor’s degree. Associate students need 60 credits to graduate, versus the 120 credits needed for a bachelor’s degree. And many state community colleges offer low tuition rates.

Can I get a job with an associate degree?

You can get an entry-level job in your field with an associate degree. Many students will use the associate degree as a way to get relevant job training before entering the job market. In fact, many associates will pursue entry level work in their field while earning a bachelor’s degree through online education.

Should I get an associate degree before pursuing a bachelor’s degree?

You may want to get an associate degree first to save money, or improve your admission chances, before getting a bachelor’s degree. The associate degree is a popular stepping stone for students who will seek a bachelor’s degree. When you earn an associate degree from an accredited state community college, you can usually transfer your credits toward your bachelor’s degree program.

Can I get an online degree at the associate level?

You can definitely get an online degree at the associate level. A growing number of online colleges offer high-quality associate-level online courses and complete online programs. Online students will typically take the same courses and curricula as on campus students.

Are associate degrees from online colleges respected?

Online degrees at the associate level are respected as long as these online degrees come from accredited community colleges or two-year schools. Regional accreditation is important when it comes to online colleges. If you plan to go into a bachelor’s degree program at a regionally accredited school, you must earn your online degree from a regionally accredited associate degree program.

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How we rank the most affordable online associate programs?

In most cases, the most affordable associate’s degree will be the one offered by a county community college located in your state. Online associate degree students enjoy access to in-state tuition rates just like traditional on-campus students. That’s why we’ve ranked these associate degree programs by placing the highest weight on in-state tuition rates. The tuition price listed below may not reflect the lower rate extended to in-state residents. Click on each school to learn more about in state tuition discounts. Other factors included in our ranking are Influence–the measure of a school’s excellence based on the real-world impact of its professors, students, and alumni; and the percentage of full-time students enrolled in online degree programs at each institution.

The community college and two-year programs below are all public options with an extensive range of online classes.

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Most Affordable Online Associate Degrees for In-State Students

  1. #4

    Coastline Community College

    Fountain Valley , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    25%

    Student body

    4K

  2. #7

    Amridge University

    Montgomery , AL

    Tuition + fees

    $10K

    Graduation

    44%

    Student body

    <1K

  3. #10

    Stanly Community College

    Albemarle , NC

    Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Graduation

    56%

    Student body

    2K

  4. Tuition + fees

    $11K

    Acceptance

    70%

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    8K

  5. Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Graduation

    19%

    Student body

    8K

  6. #13

    Post University

    Waterbury , CT

    Tuition + fees

    $17K

    Graduation

    20%

    Student body

    12K

  7. #14

    Lake Tahoe Community College

    South Lake Tahoe , CA

    Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    38%

    Student body

    1K

  8. Tuition + fees

    $1K

    Graduation

    27%

    Student body

    3K

  9. Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Graduation

    40%

    Student body

    2K

  10. #17

    Central Texas College

    Killeen , TX

    Tuition + fees

    $4K

    Graduation

    18%

    Student body

    7K

  11. #18

    Park University

    Parkville , MO

    Tuition + fees

    $12K

    Graduation

    24%

    Student body

    7K

  12. Tuition + fees

    $3K

    Graduation

    35%

    Student body

    1K

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More on the Cost of College

How much does 4 years of college cost on average?

In 2020, the average yearly cost of tuition and fees for in-state public colleges was just over $10,000 while the average cost of tuition for a year in private school was $36,801. But costs can go up significant from there, with more than 120 ranked private colleges charing an annual tuition and fees of at least $50,000.

What’s the difference between the sticker price and net price of college?

The “sticker price” for a year in college may be different than the actual cost of a year in college. The cost of college includes incidentals including housing, college fees, text books, meal plans, and general living expenses. The cost may also be offset by federal financial aid, grants or scholarships. You’ll need to factor these expenses and credits to the sticker price to determine your net price for college.

How can I cut my college costs?

Financial aid, scholarships, and geographical considerations all offer ways to offset the sticker price. Financial aid and scholarships are both central considerations as you look for ways to cut your costs. There also ways to save on the peripheral expenses that can really add up. Text books, for instance, can be quite expensive. Try shopping for used books online instead of going straight your campus bookstore for the newest copy.

How can I make college more affordable?

Whether you start at a community college or jump right into a bachelor’s degree program, attending a public college or university in your state will be your most affordable option. State schools typically offer deep tuition discounts for in state students, whether you take online courses or earn your degree on campus. You may also be able to offset some expenses by earning your degree online. While tuition for online college is generally in line with tuition for the traditional college experience, you may be able to saving on college fees, housing, and transportation.

For more tips on getting an affordable online education, check out our Guide to Financial Aid in Higher Education