What is an Associate’s Degree?

assThere are many reasons why up to 20 percent of students never even finish high school, let alone go on to seek postsecondary credentials. For those students who aspire to continue their education, they automatically join an elite smaller group with advanced career potential.

The next step up the educational ladder after high school graduation is college. One of the most popular degree choices for today’s postsecondary students is the associates degree. In this post, learn “what is an associations degree?” and decide if this may be the right degree plan for your career goals.

Associates Degree Overview

In the vast majority of associates degree plans, completion can be achieved in 2 years or less. For candidates who may wish to pursue a 4-year bachelors degree at a later date, the associates degree can meet the requirements for the first 2 years of college coursework.

A variety of institutions and organizations offer 2-year associates degree plans. The most common include community colleges, junior colleges, technical schools and vocational schools.

For students who may wish to return for a bachelors degree at a later time, there are also 4-year universities that offer associates degree plans. Graduating with an associates degree from the same university you wish to later return to for a bachelors degree can be a great way to ensure all coursework and credit hours will transfer seamlessly.

Types of Associates Degree Plans

The credentials earned by an associates degree holder can vary depending on the field of study.

Associate of Arts (AA) Degree.
In an Associates of Arts (AA) degree, there is a strong academic focus that can translate well into pursuit of a bachelors degree at a future date. The coursework has a strong Liberal Arts and general studies focus.

Associate of Fine Arts (AFA) Degree.
In an Associates of Fine Arts (AFA) degree, there is a clear creative focus in a chosen discipline. Disciplines can vary from photography to drama, music to graphic design and many more.

Associate of Science (AS) Degree.
In an Associate of Science (AS) degree, there is a more practical hands-on focus that translates very well into working in the field right after college while still covering a broad base of coursework that will be required for students interested in completing a bachelors degree later on. The coursework slants heavily towards math, science and technical knowledge and skills-building.

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Degree.
In an Associates of Applied Science (AAS) degree, there is a strong hands-on career focus. These special associates degree plans are designed to get you up and running in your chosen career immediately. They may contain fewer or no courses designed to transfer to meet a bachelors degree academic requirement in the interests of giving each student as much hands-on training and practice knowledge in the field as possible.

Associate of General Studies (AGS) Degree.
Some institutions offer the AGS degree so students have the option to more closely customize the coursework to their personal career goals. An example would be where a student wants or needs to begin working in their chosen field relatively quickly, but also wishes to return for additional higher education later on and wants to get some of the fundamental required coursework for that degree plan out of the way now.

Study Plans to Earn an Associates Degree

In decades past, the only way to earn a postsecondary degree was to attend classes in person at an institution for higher education.

Happily, in today’s increasingly hectic world, there are additional options to support students who may need to work at a job, balance family responsibilities with getting their education or simply do not live close enough to any brick-and-mortar institution to enroll there.

Today, increasingly popular alternatives to in-class studies include weekend or night classes, online degree plans and (for fields requiring more hands-on study and lab work) a combination of online and in-class studies.

When to Choose an Associates Degree

For most students, their chosen career path/employer will dictate what level of postsecondary education they seek out. For instance, some employers will specify a certain degree requirement to work at a certain type of job, and this is a trustworthy guideline students often follow.

Associates degree programs are gaining popularity because they offer the option to begin earning money in your chosen career relatively quickly and also can pave the way towards a higher degree plan in the future.