How to Go from an Associate’s Degree to a Bachelor’s Degree

Maybe you earned an associate’s degree years ago or maybe you’re in school for it now. No matter the timeline, turning an associate’s into a bachelor’s degree can propel your career and qualifications to the next level. And it’s not as tricky as you may think, especially if you follow the tips below.

What is an associate’s degree?

An associate’s degree is a two-year degree, typically offered at a community college. Associate’s degree programs tend to focus on general studies with an employment-based standard of measure. They can help you meet qualifications for specific jobs, provide training for some technical fields and establish a base of education to build on if you so choose!

What is a bachelor’s degree?

A bachelor’s degree is a four-year degree, typically offered at a four-year college or university. Bachelor’s degree programs tend to focus on preparing students for success in a variety of fields with higher education standards of measure. For example, you might pursue a bachelor’s to work in fields like management and leadership, teaching, accounting, nursing, engineering or healthcare administration.

Why go from an associate’s to a bachelor’s?

Studies show that bachelor’s degree holders earn an average of $20,000 more annually than those with associate’s degrees. That’s more than $800,000 more in lifetime earnings.

Beyond the potential for increased income, bachelor’s degrees can open up new career opportunities. Many employers screen job applicants based on education level; a bachelor’s degree can help you land interview opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have been considered for. It’s a highly marketable qualification, implying critical thinking and reasoning skills, a working understanding of history and science, and writing and communication excellence.

It also opens up professions that require a bachelor’s degree – like teaching, engineering and accounting – and jobs that require graduate-level degrees – like pharmacy, medicine, social work, counseling, physical therapy and veterinary medicine.

How to Turn an Associate’s Degree Into a Bachelor’s

  1. Find a school that matches your goals.

    It’s common to start your search by exploring universities that offer the specific program you’re after. But you’ll also want to consider other factors that will impact your experience and success in the program. Think about what kind of format you want – fully online, hybrid, in-person, accelerated, self-paced, etc. Is attending a local university important to you? Or a large school? Do you want to learn alongside a group of peers or independently? These are important factors to consider as you begin your research.

  2. Start the admissions process at the college you want to get your bachelor’s degree from.

    Once you’ve selected a school that matches your goals, get in contact with their admissions team. You can request information or reach out to a specific individual if contact information is listed.
  3. Find out what prerequisites are needed or what you’re already bringing in.

    Once you’re in contact with the admissions team, they’ll look at your transcripts and identify what credits are transferable. In fact, some schools offer a free transcript evaluation as part of the admissions process, so you know exactly what to expect. Ask the admissions team what courses you should be sure to take to transfer as seamlessly as possible into the new institution.

  4. Choose when to start the program.

    Your admissions counselor will work with you to determine the earliest date you can enroll in the program – but ultimately, the decision is up to you. Some people prefer the momentum of transferring straight into a bachelor’s degree program after earning an associate’s. Others may take some time to work, then join a degree completion program later on. Whatever your path, you’ll have the best success when you’re fully committed to finishing your degree.

  5. Apply for financial aid.

    Don’t skip this step! Almost every student who can demonstrate financial need is eligible for federal and/or state funds to help cover the cost of tuition. Some schools offer additional awards as well. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can search and apply for external scholarships, which can help further close the gap.

Gabriel's headshot

Gabriel Edwards

George Fox University graduate

The clearer you can be with yourself about what you want to do in life and how a particular college/program can help you get there, the more effective the experience will be.

Tips from Admissions Counselors


Contact Leah Gomes, adult degree program admissions counselor at George Fox University.

Common Questions

Interested in completing your bachelor’s degree?

Learn more about fully online adult degree programs at George Fox University.


Leah Gomes

Leah Gomes

Admissions Counselor, Adult Degree Program