What Is the Difference Between an AA, AS, and AAS Degree?

What Is the Difference Between an AA, AS, and AAS Degree?

Last Updated on April 13, 2023 by Akwaowo Akpan

The associate of arts (AA), associate of science (AS), and associate of applied science degrees are the three options available to prospective students seeking an associate degree (AAS). The AAS prepares students for direct entry into the workforce, the AS tackles scientific and business-focused studies, and the AA concentrates on liberal arts and general education. On this article, readers can explore the differences between AA, AS, and AAS degrees.

In 2019, associate degree holders made an average weekly wage of $890, which was $140 higher than those who merely had a high school diploma or its equivalent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The difference totals a whopping $7,280 over the course of a 52-week year

What is an Associate of Arts degree, or AA?

An AA degree offers a fundamental education in a particular field, usually with a liberal arts emphasis. For transfer to a bachelor’s degree, a program may place more emphasis on general education credits than on liberal arts courses.

With an AA in early childhood education, graduates can become daycare providers; with an AA in physical education studies, they can become athletic directors or personal trainers; and with an AA in graphic design, they can become graphic designers or online publishers.

An AA can normally be earned in two years with 60 credits. They enroll in foundational classes like English composition, math, history, and social studies as well as college readiness. Then the program includes electives and courses tailored to each major. Lets not forget this article is all about the differences between AA, AS, and AAS degrees.

Learners who want to explore different study areas, particularly in preparation for a bachelor’s degree, can find options for individualized degree programs within the associate of arts. They still take a strong core of liberal arts courses but work with advisors to assemble a customized suite of electives.

Read also: Why University Admissions officers favour IB students

What is an Associate of Science degree, or AS?

When pursuing an AS degree, students major on subjects like math, physics, or business. Business administration, criminal justice, cybersecurity, health science, and others are some specific examples. Graduates can apply for positions as IT support professionals, bookkeepers, staff accountants, database administrators, and web developers.

Some disciplines, like biology or engineering science, place a strong emphasis on becoming ready for bachelor’s-level coursework. Graduates in these fields might be qualified for some entry-level jobs, but the main goal of these programs is to prepare students for further education.

Students can finish an associate of science program in two years and typically need 60–65 credits to graduate. A college preparedness seminar and general education electives in subjects like English, math, social studies, and the arts are typically included in core courses. Be reminded that this article is about the differences between AA, AS, and AAS degrees.

Typically, students take foundational courses in their majors and complete their degrees with electives. For instance, a student majoring in information science might select courses in game design and development, whereas a student pursuing a degree in health science might select courses in human biology, nutrition, or wellness.

What is an Associate of Applied Science degree, or AAS?

Graduates usually exit an AAS degree program ready to enter the work market. Many AAS programs do not prepare students to continue their education with a bachelor’s degree. Instead, they put an emphasis on the practical abilities their students need to start working right immediately.

Accounting, nursing, marketing, law enforcement, hospitality, and graphic design are a few examples of AAS majors. Graduates may be eligible for related positions like bookkeepers and accounting clerks, nurses, internet marketers, law enforcement detectives, housekeeping supervisors, and multidisciplinary artists.

Although these subjects may be offered in conjunction with those in an AA or AS, the AAS typically calls for fewer general education credits. Instead, the program emphasizes courses related to each degree. A business major would concentrate more on courses like financial accounting and statistics, while a student majoring in criminal justice would take classes in police administration and sociology. College preparedness and English composition are sometimes seen as mandatory requirements.

Additionally, capstone projects, internships, and other requirements that help students get experience are more common for the associate of applied science degree. An AAS can be finished in two years and 65 credits.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which is better, an AA, AS, or AAS?

The degree that best meets each student’s unique aspirations is the ideal degree. No certain degree type is necessarily superior to another, so students must determine their areas of interest before committing to a program. The AS leans more toward science and math, whereas the AA promotes the liberal arts.

Can I transfer my credits to a bachelor’s degree?

As long as the associate degree is accredited, recipients of that degree can typically transfer their credits to a bachelor’s program. Since many colleges accept these credits, prospective students who intend to enroll in four-year universities should confirm that their associate degree program is regionally accredited.

When they look for programs that are similar, degree seekers can often transfer the most credits from an associate to a bachelor’s program. This entails that the right number of credits can be transferred from an AA to a BA or from an AS to a BS.

Prior to enrolment in a bachelor’s degree program, applicants may be asked to fulfill additional requirements. Some individuals, for instance, demand a minimum GPA for all college-level credits. Depending on the institution and the topic matter, this can differ greatly. Additionally, a school could request admissions documents like essays, recommendation letters, and standardized tests.

Students from several associate degree programs are transferred directly into four-year programs. In some cases, students who were rejected from admission to a nearby four-year school are accepted for an associate degree at a two-year institution instead. Dual admissions, which enable seamless credit transfers from a two-year college to a specific four-year partner institution, can be another option.


  • Akwaowo Akpan

    Hi there, welcome to Online Studying Services. As a fan of authentic information and a student, I devise this means to offer reliable information to international students wishing to either study abroad or online. Thanks for stopping by!

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