This ranking is for readers interested in identifying schools with the cheapest online associate’s degree offerings for 2018.
- #1 – Broward College
- #2 – Tallahassee Community College
- #3 – Luna Community College
- #4 – Clovis Community College
- #5 – Great Basin College
- #6 – Western Nevada College
- #7 – Georgia Highlands College
- #8 – Spokane Community College
- #9 – Clark College
- #10 – Alvin Community College
1) We wanted to include schools from a variety of states, so we limited ourselves to selecting two schools from any given state.
2) Tuition data reported here is the average yearly tuition/fees of each school as found in the NCES College Navigator database. Is it intended as representative only, and actual tuition may differ between degrees within the same university.
3) We used out-of-state tuition where available. This is to ensure that the tuition used here is representative of what any student can expect to pay regardless of their residency. However, many schools offer discounted rates to online students, and some even offer online students in-state tuition, so if that’s the case, consider it a bonus!
4) To be considered, schools had to be regionally accredited and offer fully online associate’s degrees.
While hundreds of accredited institutions offer associate’s degree online programs, only 29 came in under $7,000 tuition/fees. Here are the 10 most affordable associate’s online degree programs for 2018.
Associate’s degrees, especially those offered by community colleges, represent some of the best value to be had in modern higher education. Whether you are looking to earn a two-year degree and get started with your nursing career, or you just want to knock out your first couple years of college for almost nothing, our ranking of the cheapest online associate degrees has something for you. These schools are simply ranked according to which are the most affordable. Some have 10+ online degrees on offer while others only have a few. Some focus more on degrees designed to be used right away, while others place more emphasis on degrees that can be transferred seamlessly into four-year programs. The affordability of these programs can’t be beat. So take a look and see if you find something that captures your imagination.
#1. Broward College
Broward College offers multiple online associate’s degrees, though for details on which degrees are offered online you will need to contact their admissions department. Some of the areas of study in which degrees are offered include computer science, engineering, graphic design, paralegal studies, and accounting. Graduates from Broward’s programs earn more on average than graduates from similar programs throughout the state of Florida.
- Tuition: $1,415
#2. Tallahassee Community College
Tallahassee Community College offers cheap online associate’s degrees in criminal justice technology, early childhood development and education, and paralegal and legal studies. The school also offers a general associate in arts degree for students who are just looking to complete their general education credits before transferring to a four-year university.
- Tuition: $2,026
#3. Luna Community College
Luna Community College currently offers affordable online associate’s degrees in general agriculture and business administration. These degrees can be customized to provide students with opportunities to transfer into four year programs, or so students can enter the workforce in their chosen field upon graduation. Agriculture students will take part in an internship which provides valuable work experience.
- Tuition: $2,426
#4. Clovis Community College
Clovis Community College offers cheap online associate’s degrees in behavioral science, business administration, computer information systems, criminal justice, early childhood education, general studies, legal assistant studies, and liberal arts. The degrees in computer information systems, criminal justice, and legal assistant studies are particularly good choices for students who plan to start their career upon graduating instead of transferring to a four year school.
- Tuition: $2,904
#5. Great Basin College
Great Basin College features online associate’s degrees in business, early childhood education, English, graphic communication, accounting, general business, entrepreneurship, human services, and computer programming. The college also offers several fully online bachelor’s degrees. Great Basin College is currently authorized to deliver online degrees to students in all states.
- Tuition: $3,015
#6. Western Nevada College
Online associate’s degrees at Western Nevada College are divided into two categories. One offers the associate of arts, associate of science, and associate of business degrees designed to be transferred to four year programs. The other offers associate’s degrees in accounting, business, criminal justice, graphic communication, and management that are designed to be used upon graduation. Of course the credits earned in the degrees of the second category can still be transferred though not all of the credits may be eligible depending on the program.
- Tuition: $3,045
#7. Georgia Highlands College
Georgia Highlands University offers both online associate’s degrees and online bachelor’s degrees. The online associate’s degrees offered by the school include business, criminal justice, general studies, teacher education, english, foreign language, history, and political science. Georgia Highlands works with students to design their degree to fully compliment any transfer goals they might have, ensuring that you get the most from the time and money you invest into these studies.
- Tuition: $3,288
#8. Spokane Community College
Spokane Community College offers a transfer version of many of their associate’s degrees in order to help students ensure all their credits will transfer to the program in their target school. Available online associate’s degrees include administrative assistant, business software specialist, health information management, software development, and general business.
- Tuition: $3,460
#9. Clark College
Clark College offers two online AA programs that are specifically designed to be transferred: an associate in arts general transfer degree and a business administration degree. While the selection may not be as robust as many of the other options in our ranking, it’s everything you need if what you’re looking for is a solid foundation to transfer into a four-year degree.
- Tuition: $3,613
#10. Alvin Community College
Alvin community college offers fully online associate’s degrees in management, psychology, and sociology. These are primarily designed for students who want to transfer into a four year school and complete at least a bachelor’s degree. Students can also take advantage of a fully online management certificate program if they wish to pair that with their psychology or sociology degree.
- Tuition: $3,878
Should I stick with an associate’s degree or transfer into a bachelor’s program?
It all depends on what you want. One of the benefits of the bachelor’s degree is that it lets you further specialize in a given area of the field, which can be extremely useful. The benefit of the associate’s degree is that it grants you a credential in half the time as a bachelor’s degree. What if you spend four to six years earning your bachelor’s only to specialize in an area of the field you hate? Taking your associate’s degree into the workforce and getting some experience and a feel for the industry can actually help you determine what areas you are most interested in and where you want your career to go. However, if you do have a strong idea of exactly what area of the industry you want to work in, then earning a bachelor’s degree as soon as possible might help you advance more quickly in your chosen niche in the long run. Either way, an associate’s degree from a community college is a way to get your first couple years of college done for free or nearly free.
What are the highest paying jobs available to those with an online associate’s degree?
Here we will list some common yet lucrative professions open to people who have an associate’s degree. All of the earnings information below reflects the median annual salary of professionals in the listed field according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Radiation Therapist: $80,570
- Dental Hygienist: $74,070
- Registered Nurse: $70,000
- MRI Technologist: $60,070
- Web Developer: $67,990
- Computer Network Support Specialist: $52,810
Paying for your Online Associate’s Degree
Associate’s degrees earned from community colleges are the cheapest form of higher education available in the United States. They are especially cheap if you are a resident of the state in which the school is located. However you can see from the schools on our ranking, even prices for online out of state students can be incredibly affordable. Often federal grants will cover most or even all of your tuition costs, and in some cases there will even be money left over for books. Obviously you should take advantage of any scholarships offered by the community college, your high school, local organizations, or the state.
Your next best option if those don’t cover your costs will be federally subsidized student loans. These are magnitudes better than private student loans. For one, the interest is lower and doesn’t fluctuate much (or at all in some cases). Federal loans are also very flexible with repayment plans, so if you end up facing financial difficulties for a little while after graduation, the federally subsidized loans give you lots of flexibility in how you repay them. The last option you should consider is private student loans. Taking these out isn’t the worst thing in the world, but because the other options are so much better, you should minimize the amount of privately-held student debt you accrue.
Is online learning right for you?
Online learning can be a godsend because of its flexibility. Most students who earn their degrees online are older than the traditional college age. However with the ever-growing selection of degrees being offered online, and the first generation to grow up with the internet hitting college age, the online option is going mainstream fast. But how do you know if it’s the right fit? That’s not an easy question to answer. In the end it comes down to whether or not you are the kind of person who can learn by watching videos. Would you be comfortable taking tests online? Can you handle not having any face-to-face interaction with your professors? If these things aren’t ideal for you, and you don’t need to make online learning work for you, then the face-to-face option might be a better choice. However if you need the flexibility and are comfortable with the format and technology, online education offers unprecedented levels of flexibility for anyone seeking to earn a degree.
Sources and Resources
National Center for Education Statistics: Tuition and graduate rates.
By CVO Staff
Updated August 2018
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