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What is an Associate Degree?

Written by Alexander College in About AC on November 30, 2020

Last Updated: January 22nd, 2024

In this article, you will learn about what is an associate degree. In addition, you will be introduced to all the programs and courses that Alexander College offers such as Associate Degrees, University Transfer, and the various routes to university you can take with us. When you’re finished reading this article, we hope you feel better equipped to define your own path to higher education.

You’ve done it! You have graduated high school and find yourself looking towards what the future may hold.

A variety of questions come to mind and one stands out- where do I go from here?

You may find yourself having thoughts on whether you should go to university or college in Vancouver. Additionally, you may wonder which programs to take, and whether you’re making the right decisions based on your career goals.

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Or, you may find that you’re not quite sure where to go and what to do yet. Either way, you are not lost and this mixed bag of feelings between excitement and fear is completely normal. Selecting a program and area of study is an important decision, and often a daunting one. Unsure what path best suits your needs, you may find yourself in a position where different opportunities present themselves. Along those lines, you may also find yourself drawn to one specific area of study more so than another. Having the chance to explore your interest in the pursuit of knowledge is the beauty of education!

Get Your Associate Degree at Alexander College

You may be wondering, ‘what is an Associate Degree?’, The Associate Degree is a two year undergraduate program that will prepare you with the experience and knowledge you need in order to transfer to university or directly enter the workforce.
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students filling up forms for admission

This program consists of 60 to 64 credit hours that you must complete. This makes up a portion of the full 4 year undergraduate degree that you can take at a university.

If you are an International student, you can also apply for the Post-Graduation Work Permit  (PGWP) after completion of your Associate degree. Many of our students apply for their PGWP after graduation, and many decide to work on campus during their studies.

AC student, Mana Khalesi shares how working on campus during her Associate degree program has created a deeper level of connection to her work, and how she finds joy in helping other students like her at the same time.

If you are interested in working during the course of your studies, the Associate Degree program is a great fit. Students enrolled in an Associate Degree program can work off-campus for up to 20-40 hours a week, as long as you maintain full time enrolment at Alexander College.

Need help getting started? The AC library has a complete set of online resources on learning how to use a variety of job search tools, right at your fingertips. You are encouraged to double check your eligibility requirements prior to deciding on a route of study and work. If you need help in building your resume, we have our skilled instructors in the Writing & Learning Centre (WLC) who can provide you with all the help you need! At Alexander College, we offer two types of Associate Degrees—the Associate of Science and Associate of Arts. Within these two Associate degree programs, you can choose from a variety of concentrations of study.

Associate of Arts Concentrations at Alexander College

If you’re interested in the Associate of Arts, we offer concentrations in Arts, Business, Psychology, Economics, and more! As of October 2022, we have Associate of Arts concentrations.

Associate of Arts

Go to Associate of Arts Program Page In the Associate of Arts program, you will expand your knowledge in the faculty of arts, focusing on topics in the humanities and social sciences while developing your critical thinking research skills. You will have the opportunity to gain comprehensive learning and narrow the focus to your personal area of interest.
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You will also gain experience exploring topics such as intellectual thought and social responsibility. In addition, you will also learn how to interpret those through a global context. After you’ve achieved the necessary requirements to complete the program, your Associate of Arts degree will open opportunities in a wide variety of careers. Alexander College alumni have gone on to find successful careers in administration, marketing, sales and many other fields. To ensure you stay on course while mapping out your academic journey, you can download the Program Planning Worksheet that we’ve created for each program. If you need help creating your academic plan, please reach out to one of our Academic Advisors! Our AC alumni, Daniel Feltrin shares his journey from Brazil to Canada, and how he managed the responsibilities of being in the Associate degree program while working as a student worker. Daniel found he was able to learn about other cultures while concurrently developing a working relationship with our AC staff.

Associate of Arts (Business)

Go to Associate of Arts Business Program Page Our Business concentration for the Associate of Arts degree will introduce you to the world of business. You will gain knowledge across multiple disciplines, including economics, management, accounting, marketing and statistical analysis.
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students inside the alexander college library
With this concentration, you can expect to develop your knowledge of :
  • Economic theory
  • Understanding the relationship between commerce and economics
  • Familiarize yourself with the applications of economics
  • Increase your ability in data analysis
  • Understand human resource management and organizational theory
  • Learn to utilize quantitative skills in regards to business subjects
You will need to complete the program requirements to attain your Associate of Arts (Business), which can open the doors for career opportunities such as (but not limited to), working in the bank and financial sector, in customer service, human resources and more.

Associate of Arts (Economics)

Go to Associate of Arts Economics Program Page If you’re interested in Business courses, but want to hone your focus towards the study of economics and theory, the Economics concentration will help you grow in areas of theoretical and applied economics, competitive behavior, economic policy and the overall global economy. You will also acquire the tools and know-how to carry out production, distribution and consumption analysis for goods and services. Having these skills can lead to success in many career paths in the financial sector, research, marketing, and sales.
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international student inside the library
You can also expect to gain experience in :
  • Business data analysis
  • Micro and macroeconomic policies
  • Government policies that pertain to markets
  • Managerial decision making

Associate of Arts (Psychology)

Go to Associate of Arts Psychology Program Page Do you find yourself drawn to the study of the human mind and social behavior? We offer the Associate of Arts in Psychology at Alexander College, through which you can immerse yourself in the different areas of psychology, such as cognitive and abnormal psychology, data analysis and research, and the study of human behaviour. If you are looking to study Psychology at a university level, completing your Associate Degree will help you learn fundamentals and complete the necessary base coursework for your degree. Upon completion of the program requirements, you will be able to transfer your credits to a university of your choice. We have many resources available to help you find the best route to the university of your choice, including access to our Academic Advisors.

Associate of Arts (Sociology)

Go to Associate of Arts Sociology Program Page Sociology is the study of interactions between individuals and the societies they live in. This includes how these interactions can be affected by social constructs and circumstances.
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As a student you’ll explore the areas of sociological theory and research, pop culture, crime, Canadian society and social movements. You’ll develop your aptitude for performing sociological research, understand historical social movements and view human behavior through a societal lens.

Associate of Science

Go to Associate of Science Program Page “I strongly invite international students to come to Vancouver and choose Alexander College because I think teachers here teach really clearly, and the major in Business and Computer Science are excellent. I think it’s a really good way to transfer to other universities. ” Kaining Zheng, is a student in the Computer Science concentration and recipient of the AC Scholarship for Computer Science. He shares his journey at Alexander College  in this video. In addition to the concentrations available in the Associate of Arts programs, you also have the opportunity to complete your Associate degree in Science at Alexander College. Through this program, you will have the opportunity to focus in an area of study such as in biology, chemistry, computer science, physics or mathematics.
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If you are interested in pursuing an Engineering degree, the Associate of Science will provide you with a significant portion of your coursework requirements. You can later transfer those credits to a university in Vancouver, BC or across Canada. The BC Transfer Guide is a great resource for you to refer to when checking course transferability options for Vancouver colleges and universities in BC, or institutions across Canada. Within the science program, you can expect to grow in your experience and knowledge of:
  • Natural and applied sciences
  • Scientific methods of inquiry, interpreting data, understanding real world applications
  • Forming hypotheses with the application of complex reasoning

Find Over 80 University Level Courses at Alexander College

As a student, you will have access to the wide variety of programs available at Alexander College, with over 80 courses offered in a multitude of subject areas. Our student, Leo Lee found his interest in two different subject areas- Commerce and History.
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These courses will give you the opportunity to discover and experience what each subject has to offer. In addition, they can guide you in your academic journey of self-discovery. Perhaps you want to explore the diversity of human culture and what differentiates humans from animals through Anthropology, or develop cultural awareness and understanding of Asian culture through Asian Studies. You may want to study social constructs in Sociology, engage in thought provoking conversation amongst classmates and introspectively through Philosophy, or discover the human impact and relationship with the environment and legal policies in Geography. Maybe your mind is inspired by the Arts! You can develop your knowledge of film vocabulary and analyze influential work in cinema in Film Studies, travel back in time through our courses in History, evaluate popular culture and the role of communication technology in Communications, or engage the human mind in Psychology. Do you love scientific study and the pursuit of knowledge? Here, you can study the structure of organisms through Biology, collect experimental data in Physics, research chemical compounds and formulas in Chemistry, and explore the world of tech and development in Computer Science.
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Student listening during class at alexander college
Furthermore, you can advance your English language skills through our extensive English courses, or develop your proficiency in Canada’s second language, French! In the realm of business, you will be able to strengthen your analytical skills in Mathematics, understand the information systems in business and human resources in Commerce, and embrace economic policies, micro and macroeconomics in our Economics courses.

Take the University Transfer Program at Alexander College

One of our most popular programs at Alexander College is our University Transfer Program. If you have just finished high school, and are trying to get into the university of your choice, but don’t quite have the requirements—such as the English language requirement, or are not able to maintain the GPA required in order to transfer directly, this program is a great option for you.
You’ll be able to save money and have more time and flexibility to explore the courses that may interest you. You also have the benefits of a smaller classroom, more attentive instructor-student experience. Your transition from high school will be a seamless and easy one thanks to a variety of services we offer. The student services available to you at Alexander College include having access to academic support through the Writing & Learning Centre (WLC). At the WLC, you can rely on our free tutoring services to assist you with a variety of subject areas. In addition, you will also have access to mental health counselling, student mentorship programs and the ability to connect with students through the AC Student Association. As part of the BC Transfer Guide, you will be able to utilize your credits earned through the University Transfer Program, in order to transfer to universities across BC, such as to UBC, UVIC or SFU. With that said, admission requirements can change depending on which university you choose to apply to. Our team of Academic Advisors can help keep you on track as you map out your study plan using the BC Transfer Guide.
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University Transfer Program at Alexander College
Each program plan created with our Academic Advisors will differ from student to student, depending on a variety of factors. These factors include your English level, high school prerequisites, and the intended university and program of choice. Just like how each student is unique, each plan is unique too! If you’re an international student, you’ll be completing your English course requirements as part of your studies at Alexander College. As a result, you will no longer be required to take the IELTS or TOEFL to satisfy the placement requirements at your university of choice, following successful completion of your University Transfer program plan. In addition, you will find that another benefit of taking the University Transfer program at Alexander College, is that Vancouver provides the perfect backdrop for you to explore and learn more about the city. Learn about our beautiful city, and experience the local food and culture, all while completing your undergraduate studies.

BC Transfer Guide (BCCAT)

At Alexander College you can rest assured that your courses are transferable to future university studies. You can keep this in mind while you choose your courses and pursue the subjects that interest you the most.
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Alexander College is a member institution of the British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer (BCCAT), which means that we are consistently establishing transfer agreements for our courses with colleges and universities across British Columbia. As you develop your study plan, we suggest making regular check-ins on the BC Transfer Guide website to ensure that your courses are transferable to your university of choice. Looking to transfer from AC to a university or college outside of BC or Canada? Many Alexander College Alumni have found success transferring to institutions worldwide. We suggest contacting an academic advisor if you are planning on transferring outside of the BCCAT system.

Additional Program Options at Alexander College

There are additional programs available at AC if you are looking for alternatives to college and university programs. These programs were designed to follow the requirements of the British Columbia Post-Secondary Transfer System.

English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Program

Our EAP program consists of 2 levels, aimed towards students who still need to develop English language skills within a post-secondary context, with the intent that they can use their newfound skillset to succeed at university level courses. If you plan on enrolling in university level programs at AC or another BC institution, this program can help you satisfy the English course requirements. The EAP program consists of two levels: ENGL 098 and ENGL 099. Both of these programs focus on learning through academic subjects such as Film Studies, History, Literature, Philosophy, Science, and Sociology. Each EAP level has a duration of 14 weeks, comprised of 10-15 hours of study per week. Our AC student, Hailey Yang shares her journey at AC. She shares her decision on changing her designation from Psychology to Sociology in order to pursue her interest in Social Work. Hailey has since successfully transferred to UBC.

English as a Second Language (EASL) Program

If you’re a new student who hasn’t had opportunity to study English or experience Canadian culture, our EASL program is a great fit for students who want to engage with their local community, connect with peers, and gain confidence interacting with others in English.
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The EASL program offers you a unique opportunity foundation for English study. It will not only help you hone your technical language skills, but also help give you the skillset to employ those lessons in everyday situations.

Our EASL program is divided into 6 sections.  Foundational English will help you learn core concepts and vocabulary before progressing on to Beginner English. Beginner English focuses on development of conversational skills. Finally, in our Intermediate classes, you’ll learn more complex terms and further your fluency in conversation and writing.

Once you are ready to move on from Intermediate, you’ll be eligible for our English for Academic Purposes Program (EAP). Our EAP Program will help get you on track for writing and conversing at a university level.

Download our ESL Brochure here (PDF)

Pathways and Block Transfers

You will find a variety of pathways and block transfers available for Alexander College students who are looking for different routes in their academic journey from high school or college to university. University Pathways Choosing a University Pathway will give you the option to study at AC with the assurance that your credits can be applied directly to a program at another university. Alexander College currently holds agreements with the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and University of Victoria for block transfers.
University Pathways in Alexander College
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Dual Credit Adult High School Program

You may also wish to participate in the Dual Credit Adult High School Program that is available at our sister high school, Alexander Academy. This pathway is designed for students who have ‘aged-out’ (19 years or older) of the BC high school system but have not completed the requirements to graduate. This pathway is also for International students who have been placed in a grade lower than their actual grade due to their level of English proficiency. You can choose from two options in this pathway: the BC Dogwood Diploma Program (Regular ‘Dogwood’ Program) and the BC Adult High School Graduation Program (Adult ‘Dogwood’ Program).

Online Learning

As a student at Alexander College, you will have the option to take courses completely online. Prior to this launch, AC adapted all courses to a virtual learning format due to Covid-19. In Virtual Learning courses, students meet in a virtual classroom using video conferencing software at a fixed time and date. The lecturer gives instruction directly to the students via the computer. Currently, we have introduced Online Learning. This format differs from the virtual classroom as the courses offered are specifically designed for online delivery.
Online Learning at alexander college
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Unlike Virtual Learning classes, during the Online Learning course you will not meet face to face with a lecturer. Instead, you will have assigned weekly readings and engage in online forums with your instructor and other students in the class. You will be responsible for your online learning schedule and there will be no fixed class time. This is a great option if you want to take ownership of your own learning. You will have the flexibility of studying based on your own personalized schedule. In addition, you will be able to tune in from anywhere around the world.

Begin Your Application Process

We hope that this article has helped you with planning your academic journey. As you begin your application process, be sure to understand our requirements to apply to Alexander College, and steps on how to apply to ensure you have everything you need. You can contact us through our Contact Form below, which will help you to get connected with our Enrolment Advisors and find out more about our Associate Degree programs, University Transfer and additional programs available. We hope to see you here!

Looking to start the application process?

You can apply online, review admissions requirements or request additional information below. Contact us Mon-Fri 9am-5pm PST or email Apply Online

Alexander College acknowledges that the land on which we usually gather is the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work in this territory.

Alexander College acknowledges that the land on which we usually gather is the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the Coast Salish peoples, including the territories of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. We are grateful to have the opportunity to work in this territory.