What are the Different Types of Associate’s Degrees?

Different Types of Associate’s Degrees

A student fresh out of high school or an adult learner aspiring to earn a degree often is surprised to hear about the different types of associate’s degrees. When many people are discussing degrees, what usually comes to mind are bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Associate degrees are generally found at community colleges, vocational schools and technical colleges as opposed to universities. Depending on the type of associate’s degree, they may be used as a foundation for a bachelor’s or master’s degree, or they may be obtained as a qualification for employment. Here are the different types of associate’s degrees.

Types of Associate’s Degrees

There are four types of associate’s degrees, and each has their own purpose or goal.

  • Associate of Science (A.S.)
  • Associate of Arts (A.A.)
  • Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)
  • Associate of Applied Business (A.A.B.)

The A.S. and the A.A. degree are generally used by students who plan to transfer to four-year colleges or universities and pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree. These two degrees don’t usually include a minor of study. They do include courses that are equivalent to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree program.

The A.S. degree includes at least five or more credits of math/science courses and may be used for careers requiring many science courses, such as nursing or engineering. The A.A. degree is a much broader degree that includes at least five credits of social science/humanities courses. This degree prepares students for transfer into a wider variety of fields than the A.S. degree.

The A.A.S. and the A.A.B. degrees are considered career degree programs because they prepare students for immediate employment after graduation. Rather than include general education and college courses, their curriculum focus on major-related courses. Students with an A.A.S or A.A.B. degree may transfer to a university but will need to take additional required courses.

Why Pursue an Associate’s Degree?

Students choose to pursue an associate’s degree for many reasons. Many do it because it’s the simplest way to earn a degree while others are aspiring to start a career in a certain field, and they want to do it quickly. Cost may also be a factor when choosing to pursue an associate’s degree.

Since tuition is generally charged on a per-credit basis, an associate’s degree will be half the cost of a bachelor’s degree. Cost and convenience are probably the two biggest reasons why students choose an associate’s degree. Most associate degree graduates state they chose that path because it allowed them to join the workforce and start earning money quicker.

Careers with an Associate’s Degree

In addition to only taking only two years to complete, an associate’s degree can lead the way towards various careers in many different fields, including, healthcare, engineering, computer science and technology, among others. Here are some popular career choices for graduates of associate degree programs.

  • Diagnostic medical sonographer
  • Respiratory Therapist
  • Paralegal
  • Computer programmer
  • Registered nurse
  • Veterinary technician
  • Mechanical designer
  • Dental hygienist
  • Geologic and petroleum technicians

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Earning an associate’s degree can be a great way to enhance earning potential. U.S. News & World Report states that individuals with an associate’s degree typically earn about $200,000 more over their lifetime than those without a degree. With different types of associate’s degrees offered in so many fields, the career possibilities are almost endless.