The Associate’s Degree: Everything You Need to Know

This is essentially an undergraduate degree that a student is conferred with on completion of a two-year-long degree program. It helps the students gain the fundamental academic and technical knowledge and learn the transferable skills they need to pursue further study in their chosen field or for employment. For some students, an associate’s degree is a way to prepare for a bachelor’s degree, while for others, it’s a qualification that helps to improve employment prospects. There’re four types of associate degrees. These include:

Associate of Arts (AA): These degrees cover liberal arts subjects, such as sociology, humanities, English, and communications. Programs generally focus on general education to prepare students for liberal arts bachelor’s programs. However, they also offer specialty concentration courses in subjects like social work, early childhood education, or digital photography. Possible careers with AA degrees include teacher assistants, photographers, desktop publishers, and social and human service assistants.

Associate of Science (AS): AS programs include liberal arts courses but require more technical and scientific coursework than AA degrees. These programs incorporate general studies curriculum that helps students transfer into different bachelor’s programs. They also offer focuses, such as business administration, accounting, information technology, etc., that prepare students for specific bachelor’s programs. Possible careers with AS degrees include bookkeepers, web developers, information clerks, and paralegals.

Associate of Applied Arts (AAA): These programs are aimed at providing students with artistic training in the art of their interest. Possible careers with AAA degrees include art instructor, advertising layout artist, etc.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS): While AAS programs can transfer into a bachelor’s degree, it’s more common for AAS graduates to pursue work without obtaining a bachelor’s degree. Possible careers with AAS degrees include construction equipment operator, surgical technologist, dental hygienist, etc.

Students need to hold either a high school diploma or equivalent to get admitted into associate degree programs. Schools may also expect students to have a specific minimum GPA and to finish their state’s pre-college curriculum that often includes math, English, and science courses. Applicants without college credit may also need SAT or ACT scores. Other admission materials may include writing samples, personal statements, and letters of recommendation.

Students choose an associate’s degree due to lots of possible reasons. They may want to join the workforce more quickly. Or, they may want to pursue a full bachelor’s degree but don’t have strong enough grades, or they simply like the concept of paying lower tuition fees for a couple of years before transferring.

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