When it comes to studying, everything in Germany revolves around a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree. It is different in the USA and other countries that are based on the US study system. There, students will find another degree, the so-called associate degree. State community colleges and private junior colleges award this typically American degree.
Like the bachelor’s degree programs, the associate degree programs belong to the area of undergraduate courses, the so-called undergraduate studies. Students typically begin associate degrees after high school. In contrast to a bachelor’s degree, the study period to obtain an associate’s degree takes two years.
The aim of associate studies is either direct entry into the profession or subsequent attendance at a four-year college or university where one can obtain a bachelor’s degree.
Types of Associate Degree at Community Colleges
There are two different types of degree programs within the associate degree: Terminal Degrees and Transfer Degrees. Terminal degrees lead to employment. Often these courses are more practice-oriented. Transfer degrees usually include more academic courses. The contents of the course are to be compared with those of the first two years of study of a bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university. After obtaining the transfer degree, the students can then also switch to such a four-year college or university and obtain a bachelor’s degree there within two further years.
Recognition of associate degrees in the USA
There are often cooperation agreements between the community or junior colleges and certain universities or four-year colleges so that universities can easily recognize the transfer degree and place the students directly in the third year.
Universities abroad that offer the associate
Most associate degrees are available at US community colleges. There are also a number of four-year colleges and universities that also offer associate programs. In these cases, students receive the associate degree after two years. You can then seamlessly continue your studies up to your bachelor’s degree without having to change universities in between.
The associate title
Depending on the subject, various associate titles are also awarded. In the socio – as well as language and cultural studies or in the General Studies obtained the Associate of Arts Degree. The Associate of Science Degree, on the other hand, is awarded for a degree in natural science subjects such as mathematics or biology. Terminal programs as well as transfer programs are available in both disciplines.
The situation is different with the Associate of Applied Science Degree. This title is awarded in the application-oriented courses of study that lead directly to professional activity. These can be courses from the medical, economic or administrative fields. Even IT degree programs and certain scientific-technical and engineering subjects close to the Associate of Applied Science Degree from. These courses are therefore purely as terminal programsdesigned. Individual courses can be recognized for a subsequent bachelor’s degree, but not the entire degree.
Recognition of the associate degree in Germany
The associate degree is in Germany not recognized as an independent academic degree, since there is no equivalent to the German university system.
It is also not to be assumed that after completing the associate degree, lateral entry into a higher semester of a bachelor’s degree in Germany will be possible without further ado. In the American study system, it is in fact common to the beginning of studies at first mainly general education courses, the so-called general studies to prove. This is in turn not provided for in the German study system, so that these courses can often not be taken into account in Germany.
It is therefore advisable for German students to choose a transfer program in any case and, after completing their associate degree, switch to a US four-year college or university (” transfer “) in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree there in a further two years acquire.
This approach offers certain advantages over a bachelor’s degree completed entirely at a four-year college or university: On the one hand, the community colleges are characterized by significantly lower tuition fees. Therefore, studying the first two years of your bachelor’s degree at a community college and then moving to a four-year college or university can significantly reduce the cost of studying in the United States.
Admission requirements for associate studies
The admission criteria at the community and junior colleges are also not as strict as those at the universities and four-year colleges. It is often possible to study abroad without a high school diploma. German applicants need a secondary school leaving certificate and at least two years of professional training. In some cases, even secondary school leaving certificate is sufficient, provided the applicants are at least 18 years of age.
Sufficient knowledge of English must be proven through standardized language tests such as the IELTS or TOEFL. Applicants who do not pass this have the option of first taking a language course at the Community College instead. One semester later you can start your studies yourself.
The associate as a door opener to other degrees
After successfully completing a transfer program, students without a high school diploma can complete their bachelor’s degree at a four-year college or university within two years. For these applicants, an associate degree represents a back door to an internationally recognized bachelor’s degree in the USA, Canada or Australia.
An associate degree can also open doors for applicants who are aiming to study at a very popular university, but have average grades on their (technical) high school diploma, too: some of the community colleges have cooperation agreements with renowned state and private universities, each of which Reserve a percentage of places for transfer applicants from these community colleges every year. A successfully completed transfer degree can therefore significantly increase the chances of being accepted at such a top university.
Opportunities to Fund an Associate Abroad
The tuition fees at the colleges are lower than at the universities, but an associate degree abroad is not exactly cheap compared to studying in Germany. And after all, the cost of living has to be met. There are several ways to finance participation in an associate program abroad:
- Scholarships from the DAAD or other organizations or foundations
- Scholarships from universities abroad
- Low-interest student loans or education funds