The Differences Between an Associates of Arts and Associates of Applied Science

When you attend college, you have a variety of degree and certificate programs to choose from. The one you ultimately choose will depend on a variety of factors, such as whether or not you want to continue with your graduate degree or you simply want to start a career as quickly as possible. The main difference between an Associate of Arts and an Associates of Applied Science, is that the Associate of Applied Science is for getting a job in two years or less, while the Associate of Arts is applied to additional college education following the first two years.

Where to Get Associate's Degrees

The first consideration in determining whether you want an Associated of Arts or Associates of Applied Science degree, is deciding where to get the degree. For most, a local community college will offer this degree. There are also four-year colleges that let you attend for two years and get your associate's, along with vocational schools that offer one or the other types of degree. Finally, you can look for online colleges that offer one or the other.

Associate of Arts

The Associate of Arts (AA) degree is more popular among students who plan to continue on to their undergraduate or graduate degree. If you want to start at a community college, you can get an AA in your area of interest, and transfer the credits to a four-year school. With the AA in hand, you only need to complete an additional 2 years of full-time study or 4 years of part-time study to receive your bachelor's degree. For a graduate degree, additional schooling is required. The benefit of an Associate of Arts degree, is that the student can obtain the degree and work within their chosen field quickly, but return to finish a Bachelor's degree at a later date and for possibly lower tuition rates.

Associate of Applied Science

On the other hand, if you want to get started on your career as soon as possible and have no desire to go beyond the associate degree, an associate of applied science (AAS) is going to be more fitted to you. This requires 2 years of full-time study or slightly longer if you go less than full time, which is usually 12 credits a semester. This lets you complete the AAS coursework and get started on your career right away. The coursework is slightly different and more tailored to the career you want, with many credits not being transferrable. This is why you need to make the decision before you decide which associate degree to go for. The AAS will only concentrate on one subject, such as writing, computer technology, or mechanics.

If you still aren't sure which degree you to get, contact a school counselor. They can ask you a series of questions about your future prospects and help you determine whether you should get the Associate of Arts or Associate of Applied Science Degree, and help you plan your courses accordingly.

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