Associate Degree Graduates Report

Posted on April 25, 2016

As college costs have climbed in the last decade, associate degrees have become increasingly popular for many students because they can complete these degrees in less time and at a lower cost. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of associate degrees awarded increased by 59 percent from 634,000 in 2002-03 to more than 1 million in 2012-13. Over the same period, the number of bachelor’s degrees rose by 36 percent, from 1.3 million to 1.8 million. But, do associate degree holders feel their degree was worth the effort and cost, in relation to their career and happiness? A new report from Gallup and USA Funds holds some intriguing answers.

Results and analysis presented in the complete publication, titled Gallup-USA Funds Associate Degree Graduates Report, include data from survey efforts undertaken to evaluate the long-term outcomes of an associate degree education. This report explores the outcomes in detail, based on data collected from those whose highest level of education is an associate degree.

Key findings include:

  • While associate degree holders lag behind their peers with bachelor’s degrees in having “good jobs,” those with associate degrees are still just as likely to strongly agree that their education was worth the cost.
  • Employed associate degree holders are slightly more likely than those with bachelor’s degrees to be deeply interested in the work that they do and to feel that their job is ideal for them.
  • The largest gap in well being between associate degree holders and their peers with bachelor’s degrees is in the area of financial well being.

Overall, the survey results show that associate degree holders are behind their peers with bachelor’s degrees in all areas of well-being and in having “good jobs,” but, those with associate degrees are still just as likely to strongly agree that their education was worth the cost. This may be related to the perceived return these graduates are seeing on their investment; many associate degree holders say obtaining the degree was essential to achieving their career goals, and the majority state their current jobs are at least somewhat related to the education they received.

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