An associate degree requires 60 semester credits or 90 quarter credits completed in order to earn the degree. It takes about 20 college courses to earn these credits.
An associate degree can be awarded by a two-year community college or by a four-year college or university. Some colleges offer 2+2 programs, which are programs that allow a student to receive an associate degree after the first two years of course work while earning a bachelor's degree. Associate degrees are often used for career changes or faster entries into the professional world, since they are cheaper and faster than a traditional bachelor's degree.