Let’s define Associate Degree… This is an important definition because it will influence your decision to take up one of three associate degrees, namely, Associate of Arts, an Associate of Science and an Associate of Applied Science degree. These associate degrees have their specific merits and it pays to know them before making your decision.
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.
Now, let’s get down to the business of ascertaining associate degree meaning. 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. So, an associate degree can be earned after receiving your high school diploma or GED – and before you earn a bachelor’s degree.
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.
What does associate degree mean for your professional career and continuing education? 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.
Now that we know the AA degree meaning, let’s move on to the different types of associate degrees. “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 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.
Perhaps you might find this interesting: The 30 Easiest Online Associate Degree Programs in 2020
- Take a look at our “Frequently Asked Questions” Section!
- WHAT DOES AN AA DEGREE STAND FOR?
- WHAT DOES AN AS DEGREE STAND FOR?
- WHAT DOES AAS DEGREE STAND FOR?
- IS AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE WORTH HAVING?
- WHICH IS BETTER, AN AA OR AS DEGREE? WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE IN THE AA AND AS?
- WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ASSOCIATE DEGREES AVAILABLE FOR ME?
- HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO EARN AN ASSOCIATE OF ARTS OR ASSOCIATE OF SCIENCE DEGREE?
- SHOULD I CONSIDER AN ASSOCIATE OF APPLIED SCIENCE DEGREE?
Below, let’s talk about the difference between the A.A. and A.S. degree. And we will throw in the meaning of A.A.S. – for good measure:
Associate of Arts Degree (A.A.)
What’s an AA degree? While there are one too many AA degree definition in our opinion, its commonly accepted definition is an undergraduate degree awarded after two to three years of post-secondary study. It’s a level of qualification above a high school diploma or its GED equivalent but below a four-year bachelor’s degree.
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.
The question, “What is an Associate of Arts degree?” is followed by questions like, “What are its expectations in terms of academic challenge?”
You can expect coursework that will focus on the liberal arts plus your choice of electives. Associates in 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.
What is Associate of Arts degree good for anyway? 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.
Associate of Science Degree (A.S.)
What’s an AS degree? 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 Associate of Science degree 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.
Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.)
What’s an AAS degree? 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.
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.
What does an AA degree stand for?
The AA degree stands for Associate of Arts.
What does an AS degree stand for?
The AS degree stands for Associate of Science.
What does AAS degree stand for?
The AAS degree stands for Associate of Applied Science.
Is an associate degree worth having?
Absolutely, it is! There is a wide variety of careers that you can achieve with an associate degree… and besides, you must have one if you decide to further your education by earning a bachelor’s degree!
Is an Associate of Arts degree worth anything? Smartschoolsusa.org states that the average annual salary for the 2019-2020 year for the high school graduate is $37,024. While the employee with the associate degree earns upwards of $43,472 per year, a significant annual increase over one’s working career.
What is an Associate of Arts degree good for? Let’s take an AA in business administration as a specific example of the monetary and non-monetary benefits of studying for 2-3 years in an AA program. With such a degree, you will be qualified for a wide range of high-paying jobs including:
- Sales associate ($11.01/hour)
- Teller ($13.35/hour)
- Administrative assistant ($15.47/hour)
- Accounting assistant ($16.66/hour)
- Payroll specialist ($19.68/hour)
These are all entry-level jobs that pay so much better if you have an associate in business administration degree instead of just a high school diploma. Better yet, you have plenty of opportunities to move up the corporate ladder, usually supervisory jobs like:
- Marketing coordinator ($44,584/year)
- Retail manager ($48,329/year)
- Customer service supervisor ($49,240/year)
Just imagine the opportunities that will open up for you if and when you pursue an associate’s degree in the next two to three years! You may think that it’s hard work – and it is – but the rewards will be worth the time, energy and money.
Which is better, an AA or AS degree? What’s the difference in the AA and AS?
The AA vs AS dilemma is a common one; however, the one that is best for you depends on your end goal. STEM-related occupations may require an Associate of Science (A.S.) degree, while the Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree focuses on the humanities. One degree is not any more impressive than the other… it just depends on your needs!
We must also look at the AA vs AS degree comparison in terms of their minimum requirements for graduation. Keep in mind that every program has its own unique requirements but the following are common for both AA and AS programs in many post-secondary schools:
- Completion of 60 semester credit hours or their equivalent; 15 credits must be at the 200 level (The courses must expand on introductory knowledge and skills or provide advanced coursework)
- Completion of 36 general education credits and 24 program of study credits
- Minimum GPA as set by the program, such as an overall 2.25 upon completion of requirements (In some schools, a minimum letter grade for each course in the required program of study may also be required for graduation)
Yet another distinction must be made when choosing an AA or AS degree – the number and type of additional credits. Again, there will be differences between schools but there are commonalities.
For an AA degree, a student must complete an extra five credits in either the social sciences or the humanities, and these extra credits must include a foreign language course. For an AS degree, a student must complete an additional five credits in math or science; the sequence of subjects must also be followed as a requisite for completion.
Let’s take a look at the AAS degree vs AS degree comparison, too. The AAS degree programs prepare their graduates to immediately enter a career after graduation because these are considered as terminal degrees. As such, graduates often cannot transfer their credits earned into a bachelor’s degree program. In most cases, they have to enroll as if they are freshman students!
The AS degree programs, in contrast, serve as an academic foundation for a bachelor’s degree. For this reason, the credit transfer process is typically fast and easy, especially between community colleges on one hand and universities on the other hand. Basically, getting an AA associates degree means having your general education courses recognized by the college or university where you’re planning to pursue a bachelor’s degree.
What is an Associate of Science degree good for? You have such a wide range of opportunities with an AS degree including but not limited to jobs like:
- Geological and petroleum technician ($51,130/year)
- Paralegal and legal assistant ($51,740/year)
- Funeral service manager ($58,310/year)
- Architectural drafter ($56,830/year)
- Occupational therapy assistant ($59,200/year)
- Aerospace engineering and operations technician ($66,020/year)
- Radiologic technologist ($62,280/year)
- Cardiovascular technologist ($68,750/year)
- Web developer ($73,760/year)
- Dental hygienist ($76,220/year)
What are the types of associate degrees available for me?
The different associate’s degrees can be overwhelming; however, once you have decided your end goal… it’s no problem. Here are a few types to consider:
- Associate of Arts in Psychology
- Associate of Arts in Business Administration
- Associate of Electronics
- Associate of Science in Computer Assisted Design
- Associate of General Studies
- Associate of Arts in Teaching
- And, many more.
How long does it take to earn an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science degree?
Earning your associate degree will typically take you about two years to achieve. If you are participating in an online associates degree program, you may find an accelerated option that fits your needs, allowing you to complete it sooner.
Should I consider an Associate of Applied Science degree?
Again, depending on your career aspirations, you might be able to get by on an A.A.S. degree. Considered a terminal degree by most, you can begin your work career immediately upon graduation. On occasion, you may be able to transfer some of your earned credits into further education; however, you shouldn’t count on it. If you suspect you will want to earn a bachelor’s degree at some point, go ahead and earn your AS degree by all means.