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The Difference Between an Associate & a Bachelor's Degree in Construction Management

by Maria Magher

Construction managers oversee building projects from the design and development phase through construction and completion. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says that most employers prefer to hire construction managers who have a bachelor's degree and some experience in the industry. However, an associate degree in construction management may qualify graduates for supervisory roles, such as foreman or project managers. An associate program in construction management is a condensed version of a bachelor's program, and each degree has different requirements.

Admissions Requirements

Associate degree programs are typically offered by community colleges and trade schools, while bachelor's degree programs are typically offered by four-year colleges and universities. Community college and trade school admissions are usually open to anyone with a high school diploma or GED, while students may have to meet some academic criteria to get into a bachelor's degree program, such as a minimum GPA or high scores on tests like the SAT or ACT. Construction professionals who have been working for a while but who want to advance their careers may have better chances getting into an associate degree program and either completing the degree or transferring into a bachelor's program. Students starting their construction career right out of high school may have more success with a bachelor's degree program.

Time to Degree

Associate degree programs typically take two years to complete, while bachelor's degree programs typically take four years to complete. Students may be able to accelerate an associate degree program by taking additional courses on the weekends or at night. Students can accelerate a bachelor's degree program by getting credit for Advanced Placement courses from high school or by taking classes in the summer. Construction professionals who want to advance their careers may find that the associate degree better suits their needs since it keeps them out of the job market for less time. They can get experience as a foreman or other supervisor and then return to school to finish a bachelor's degree, transferring the credits they completed in the associate program.

Curriculum

A bachelor's degree in construction management typically includes more advanced course work, as well as more general education classes. An associate degree in construction management typically focuses on the basic training required to get started on the job. Classes in an associate program may include computer-aided drawing, construction estimating, basic accounting, construction safety, materials handling and conceptual physics. A bachelor's program may include all of these classes, as well as courses in human resources, sustainability, loss control, marketing and energy systems. A bachelor's degree in construction management also includes more general education courses in subjects like English, math, social studies and communications.

Internship Requirement

Some bachelor's degree programs in construction management require students to complete an internship to get hands-on experience, but most associate degree programs do not include this requirement. For example, at the University of Minnesota, students must complete at least 360 working hours in an internship, or at least nine weeks of work. Students can complete up to 36 weeks of work in an internship. Internships are completed on site under the supervision of a construction manager so students can learn the skills needed to perform the job themselves.

About the Author

Maria Magher has been working as a professional writer since 2001. She has worked as an ESL teacher, a freshman composition teacher and an education reporter, writing for regional newspapers and online publications. She has written about parenting for Pampers and other websites. She has a Master's degree in English and creative writing.

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