It takes two years to get an associate degree for students taking the recommended full-time course load. Associate degree programs at U.S. colleges require a minimum of 60 credits, though additional credits may be required depending on the program.

While virtually all associate degree programs are designed to be completed in two years, many students - especially those who maintain employment during their studies - usually take more than two years to finish a degree. On the other hand, students who take courses during the summer or who take a heavier course load each term can finish an associate degree program in less than two years. Some associate degree graduates move directly into careers, while others transfer into a bachelor’s degree program as junior-level students.