What is the difference between an Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS) and an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree?

aa aas associates as degree

Enrolling in an online associate degree program is an excellent way to continue your education. Your post-secondary education can take place immediately after high school graduation or down the road when life presents the opportunity. Typically, the traditional associate degree program will take approximately two years to complete; however, through online learning, you can often work at your own pace, therefore, expediting the process.

See: 30 Fastest Online Associate Degree Programs in 2019

Perhaps a potential employer states that you must have “some college experience.” An online associate degree is helpful, easily obtainable, and will fulfill the qualification requirements. Upon completion of an associate program, you may then choose to continue your education to earn your online bachelor’s degree, which will generally take another two years to complete. Often, students will earn their bachelor’s degree while working a full-time job, thanks to their associate degree credentials!

If you are considering earning an online associate degree, please consider a few essential points. First, seek an online associate degree program that is accredited to ensure that you obtain the quality education you deserve. Next, make sure that the credits that you work so hard for, through an online associate degree program, are transferable to another college or university, if necessary. Articulation agreements ensure that you can either transfer your credits to another school or continue your education at a later date without losing any credentials that you have already earned. Losing course credits translate into lost time and lost dollars. Finally, decide what kind of associate degree you would like to receive.

“You mean there’s more than one type?” you ask. Absolutely, there are several to consider; however here, we would like to focus on the three most popular options. They are the online Associate of Arts (A.A.), Associate of Science (A.S.) and the Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees. As all associate degree programs are similar, each one is utilized in different applications. Your desired job options will help you decide on which program is the best for you.

See: The 30 Easiest Online Associate Degree Programs in 2019

Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.)

As with any type of degree program, you should first consider what your career goal will be, what the required education will consist of and which curriculum will benefit you the most. If your career choice requires humanities-based skills, the Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree would be the best degree for you. The A.A. degree program is an adaptable degree, meaning that it is flexible and encompasses all topics that are not primarily related to math or science. You can expect coursework that will focus on the liberal arts plus your choice of electives. Liberal arts classes often include English, music or art, psychology and philosophy, as well as, theater, history and perhaps a foreign language. Minimum math and science coursework may also be required. Completion of an A.A. program will provide graduates with entry-level skills in a variety of career opportunities, such as in sales, management, graphic design, advertising, fashion design, or as a preschool teacher, among many other possibilities. An online A.A. degree will prepare a student for continued education, such as a bachelor’s degree.

See: Best Online Schools for Associates in Business Administration

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Associate of Science Degree (A.S.)

Do your career aspirations include the love of math and science? If so, the Associate of Science (A.S.) degree is for you. Although your online A.S. program will include similar classes as the A.A. program, it will focus less on electives and more on math and science. This degree will provide you with an exceptional academic base to build upon and may not require an immediate choice of career training. However, if you plan to concentrate on a career in computer science, engineering, or a healthcare related job, the A.S. degree program will, most likely, provide an opportunity to choose a concentration, if desired. Like the A.A. degree, an online A.S. degree program will also prepare a student for continued education, like earning a bachelor’s degree.

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Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.)

How would you like to earn an online Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree and then go right out into the workforce? Students who are career-focused, know what they want to do, and have researched the advantages of earning the A.A.S. degree can earn this degree without pursuing the required coursework that those seeking a bachelor’s degree must follow. In other words, if you do not plan to obtain a bachelor’s degree but need the extra credentials that the associate degree provides, the A.A.S. degree is for you. This type of degree program is often considered to be a “vocational” type degree. Generally, an A.A.S. degree is not transferable. If you wish to pursue your undergraduate education later, you may find that you must repeat coursework or take some additional classes to qualify for a bachelor’s degree program.

See: Best Online Schools for Associate of Accounting Degree Programs

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As you can see, it is very important to think ahead about what your career goal may be, what sort of curriculum piques your interest, in addition to, the job qualifications needed when applying for future employment. Without a doubt, you should aspire to complete your educational journey efficiently, when possible, to obtain the maximum benefits from your degree programs.