I am a software developer with 5 years of professional experience and 5 years of freelance experience. Prior to that, I taught myself programming since I was a kid. I have no degree.

I was able to get my foot in the door using that alone, but recently a Reddit thread was posted showing that someone with no degree had applied to over 400 jobs and only got 10 or so responses. That has been my experience, as well.

I was fortunate to get the jobs that I have with the use of recruiters. Due to circumstance, I really need to maintain employment to the best of my ability and have more stability, and would like to be able to pass the automated filters for degrees.

So while I'm working, I'd like to take classes in the evening online and just knock out some degree.

Does it matter if it's an associate's degree or not, in your knowledge? And are there accelerated programs that I could pursue in the evening, online? I've looked and looked and I just cannot find what I'm looking for, without submitting my personal information to sketchy website forms.

Clarification in case it matters: I'm in the United States.

  • Check out the Open University (UK) - been doing online degrees for decades and are well established & fantastic reputation. Not sure what credit you might get for experience - that's a chat for the admissions etc...
    – Solar Mike
    May 28, 2019 at 15:33
  • @SolarMike, Open U is limited in where they can offer degrees. Several years ago they tried to open a US branch but weren't successful at it - market conditions, I think.
    – Buffy
    May 28, 2019 at 15:43
  • @Buffy that detail was not there when I made the comment - need to polish my crystal ball, or make the assumption that all questions are US based...
    – Solar Mike
    May 28, 2019 at 15:45
  • @SolarMike, I worry about OU with the looming Brexit. They may, then be limited to UK only, but I haven't been in touch with anyone there lately and don't know their position on the Continent. But it is high quality, for sure.
    – Buffy
    May 28, 2019 at 15:49
  • @Buffy Brexit is a minor "blip" in the history we have with the countries in Europe - trading and travel going back over 2000 years... a LOT of history...
    – Solar Mike
    May 28, 2019 at 16:38

2 Answers 2


I think that an associates degree isn't going to get you terrifically far in the employment market. In the US the first couple of undergraduate years (i.e. an associates) is pretty general, rather than focused on employable skills. The advanced courses normally come later.

However, it is a start. As with most applications you want to show not just general qualifications, but how you are especially suited to the position and highly likely to be a success at it. In your current situation it may be your employment history that is your most important asset.

But specialty courses that are available online through some reputable outlet can add to your CV. That would be true even without a degree.

There are some US universities that can give you credit for "life experiences" in some cases. If you are in a place with a lot of educational opportunities (NYC,...) you might explore what your real requirements might be and how you could get a degree part time and at night, week-ends, ...


It looks like you are highly depending on the work you are doing, so being a full-time student is not an option I guess.

Here are the options I see:

In germany we have something that lets you work half a year and the other half is being a "full-time" student, during the student time you also get full money from the employer(In general you get paid about 50% less as if you already have obtained a degree, depending on the work place it is about 1000€ here). This degree counts as a full degree. Maybe there is something similiar in the US?

We also have something called "Fernstudium"(Blunt translation is: "Studying from afar") where you get all your material sent home and you work in your freetime whenever you want. You only have to attend the university about 10-15 times a year(for exams and small courses over the weekend sometimtes). This also counts as a full degree.

Now the options end which gives you a fully recognized degree. The next things are online courses, specializations and other training which gives you certificates. The recognition of those is highly dependent on the work place you want to apply.

I have completed several courses as software architect on coursera, got nice looking certificates from them with a logo from university of alberta, signed by professors etc., but my experience during job interview was that they did not seem to care at all. You could also look for "udacity nanodegree" which is an online course...but you would need to check how they are acknowledged in your area.

My advice: Try to get a full degree in your freetime, look for something in the US that is similiar to a "Fernstudium". I would be surprised if there isn't anything like that.

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