An associate degree is an undergraduate degree awarded after a course of post-secondary study lasting two to three years. It is a level of qualification above a high school diploma, GED, or matriculation, and below a bachelor's degree.
The first associate degrees were awarded in the UK (where they are no longer awarded) in 1873 before spreading to the US in 1898. In the United States, the associate degree may allow transfer into the third year of a bachelor's degree. Associate degrees have since been introduced in a small number of other countries.