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What Is an Associate Degree in Business Administration?

a woman at a desk works on a schedule on her laptop
a woman at a desk works on a schedule on her laptop

An associate degree is one of three degrees in business administration. It prepares graduates to begin their careers in the business world by providing students a comprehensive understanding of management principles, business-oriented technology, and interpersonal skills. An associate degree can also be a major step toward completing a bachelor's degree.

In this Article

Why Earn an Associate Degree in Business Administration?

An associate degree in business is a smart choice if you're looking to enter the workforce quickly. This degree path can allow you to start working in business administration in as little as two years. Since you'll be spending less time in school, it's also the least expensive way to get your start.

With an associate degree, you can work in entry-level business administration roles and get a feel for the field. If you enjoy it and want to move up, you can pursue a bachelor's degree.

This path is also a great way to see if this career field is right for you. With your associate degree, you can work in entry-level business administration roles and get a feel for the field. If you enjoy it and want to move up, you can pursue a bachelor's degree. You'll likely be able to transfer some of the credits from your associate program. That means earning your bachelor's degree will be faster and cheaper.

What Jobs Can You Get with an Associate Degree?

An associate degree can help you jump into a number of entry-level jobs in the field. Professionals with an associate degree in business administration can be found in roles such as:

"There are so many opportunities at the ground floor of companies," says Ralph Griffith, an associate professor of entrepreneurship at Lenoir-Rhyne University. "It's a standard pyramid. You've got a few people at the top and a lot of people at the bottom. So as companies grow, they're adding levels in there. There's a lot of great paying positions that are just entry-level."

Associate Degree Prerequisites, Curriculum, Time to Complete

Associate degrees in business administration are offered in both online and classroom formats by community colleges around the country. These programs might be a great fit for students with strong organization, math, analytic, and communication skills.

What Are the Prerequisites to Enter an Associate Degree Program?

Specific prerequisites will depend on the school you select, but there are some common admissions standards you can count on. These include a high school diploma or GED. You may also be required to take math prerequisites or a math placement exam.

Admissions to an associate program don't require SAT or ACT scores, and your previous GPA typically isn't a factor.

What's in the Curriculum?

The classes you'll take are designed to prepare you for an entry-level role in business administration. Common courses include:

Are There Additional Requirements?

Associate degree programs don't require internships, but some programs do offer them. If your program offers internships, you should strongly consider one. An internship can give you hands-on work experience and help you make connections that could lead to a job when you graduate. For instance, an internship in human resources with a large company could lead to a position as an HR assistant later.

An internship can give you hands-on work experience and help you make connections that could lead to a job when you graduate.

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Associate Degree in Business Administration?

Most associate degrees in business administration require 60 credits. That's a time commitment of two years if you attend school full time. If you attend part time, it could take three years. Some programs also offer fast-track options that allow you to complete your degree in as little as 18 months.

Should You Pursue a Certification?

associate's degree icon

Certifications are a great way to stand out in your field. They demonstrate your skills, knowledge, and expertise in your area of business administration. They can also help you get hired and boost your salary. Professionals who've earned an associate degree can choose from a few specialty certifications. Here are two popular examples.

Salesforce Certified Administrator

Salesforce is a customer relationship platform that many businesses use to interact with their customers via email and other online messaging.

Who Grants It: Salesforce

Who It's Good For: Marketing assistants, customer services specialists, office managers

Requirements: You'll need to take an online course through the Salesforce Trailhead platform. The courses and certification are intended for people who already have a working knowledge of Salesforce and the roles that use it.

Test format: Online exam consisting of 60 multiple-choice questions

Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM)

Project management certifications are some of the most recognized and respected certifications in the business world.

Who Grants It: The Project Management Institute (PMI) 

Who It's Good For: Project assistants

Requirements: Your associate degree qualifies you to take the institute's 23-hour online project management course.

Test format: Online exam consisting of 150 multiple-choice questions

Advancing Your Career With a Bachelor's Degree

Your associate degree can help you start your business administration career. If you find your passion or want to build on your education to advance, a bachelor's degree in business administration can be a great next step.

A bachelor's degree will provide deeper knowledge of business concepts and skills that you can use to advance your career. Most programs allow you to specialize by offering concentrations such as marketing, human resources, and finance.

If you find your passion or want to build on your education to advance, a bachelor's degree in business administration can be a great next step.

Plus, your associate degree and work experience might help you earn your bachelor's faster. Some of the credit's from your associate program might transfer to your bachelor's program, and some bachelor programs award credit for work experience. This could allow you to earn your bachelor's degree in less than two years.


stephanie behring

Written and reported by:

Stephanie Behring

Contributing Writer

With professional insight from:

Ralph Griffith

Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship, Lenoir-Rhyne University