How Many Different Kinds of Associate Degrees Are There?
If you are thinking of completing an associate's degree, you'll have many options. Learn about these options and what you'll study in an associate degree program. Discover which associate's degree might be right for you.
There are many different kinds of associate's degree programs offered by community colleges, technical schools and 4-year colleges and universities. These programs can typically be completed in two years or less and offer students the chance to pursue a postsecondary degree in a variety of topics without committing to a 4-year bachelor's degree program. There are associate degrees that are designed to prepare students for entry-level careers, such as the Associate of Applied Science, and there are associate degrees designed to prepare students to transfer to a 4-year degree program, such as the Associate of Arts.
Important Facts About Associate Degrees
|Online Availability||Full A.A., A.S., and A.A.S. programs are available|
|Prerequisites||High school diploma/GED, submission of transcripts and TOEFL scores, minimum GPA|
|Possible Careers||Information technology manager, administrative assistant, graphic designer, paralegal, network engineer|
|Programs||Internships may be available to replace capstone courses|
|Median Salary (2020)|| $151,150 (for computer and information systems managers) |
$53,380 (for graphic designers)
$52,920 (for paralegals and legal assistants)
|Job Outlook (2019-2029)|| 10% growth (for computer and information systems managers) |
4% decline (for graphic designers)
10% growth (for paralegals and legal assistants)
Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Associate of Arts Degree
An Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree is one of the most common types of associate degrees available. Most A.A. programs require students to complete 60 hours of coursework, including general education courses and courses associated with a major. Students often apply the credits earned in an A.A. program towards a bachelor's degree program. A.A. degrees are typically awarded in the liberal arts, such as English, history, music, economics, elementary education, psychology and sociology.
Associate of Science Degree
The Associate of Science (A.S.) degree is also a popular type of associate degree. Most A.S. degree programs focus on science but also require students to complete several hours of general education courses. This degree is very similar to the A.A. because it prepares students to enter a bachelor's degree program and usually requires 60 hours. Common A.S. degree programs include chemistry and biology. Students can also pursue A.S. degrees in engineering, business administration and computer science, to name a few.
Associate of Applied Science
Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree programs are designed to prepare students to enter the workforce. Working professionals looking for a raise or promotion may also pursue an A.A.S. degree. These programs generally require students to complete fewer hours of general education coursework. There are many types of A.A.S. degrees, including programs that focus on engineering or business. Some examples of A.A.S. degrees include graphic design, food service, management, medical assisting and automotive technology.
Other Associate Degrees
There are a number of specialized associate degrees available. Some of the possible degree types include:
- Associate of Engineering
- Associate of Applied Arts
- Associate of General Studies
- Associate of Fine Arts