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Associate Programs
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What Is an Associate of Applied Arts Degree?

An Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) program can prepare you for an entry-level position. Read on to learn about these programs, how they compare to other associate's degrees and what your career options might be with an AAA degree.

Associate of Applied Arts Degree

Associate degrees are usually found at 2-year community, vocational and technical colleges, though some 4-year colleges also offer them. An Associate of Applied Arts (AAA) degree is a specialized degree designed to provide you with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter the workforce immediately upon graduation.

The focus of an AAA degree program is typically on a performing or visual art, and courses are aimed at providing you with extensive artistic training, sometimes including specialization areas. Most of the additional coursework comes from general education courses in the humanities and social sciences. Areas in which some AAA degree programs are available include:

  • Fine arts
  • Advertising art
  • Music
  • Commercial music

Important Facts About Associate of Applied Arts Degrees

Prerequisites High school diploma or the equivalent
Common Courses Art history
Computer graphics
Fundamentals of design
Specializations Advertising design, glass, fashion design, digital arts, photographic media arts, pre-art therapy, sculpting, art history, art education
Continuing Education Students of some programs may transfer into a bachelor's program after graduation
Median Salary (2020)$49,600 (Arts and Design Occupations)
Job Outlook (2019-2029)4% growth (Arts and Design Occupations)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Comparison to Other Associate's Degrees

An Associate of Arts (AA) degree is generally considered a transfer degree, which serves as the first two years of a 4-year bachelor's degree program. An AAA degree program is typically considered an occupational or terminal degree program, which means that its courses aren't necessarily meant to be transferred to a bachelor's degree program. However, if you choose to transfer to a 4-year program, some colleges will accept most or all of the credits from an AAA degree towards a bachelor's degree.

An Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree program is an occupational program similar to an AAA degree program, but the focus is usually on technical education. AAA degree programs are generally much rarer than AAS programs. It's not uncommon for colleges to offer dozens of AAS degree programs and only a few AAA degree programs, at best.

Career Opportunities

Upon graduation from an AAA degree program, you're equipped with the skills and knowledge to work in a wide variety of entry-level, art-related careers. The exact type of career that you're prepared for is largely determined by your area of study. Some specific career titles available to you may include:

  • Art instructor
  • Advertising layout artist
  • Art director
  • Private music teacher
  • Music sales associate