What You Should Know About This Degree
There are three primary types of associate degrees, including Associate of Arts (AA), Associate of Science (AS), and Associate of Applied Science (AAS), although individual institutions may offer other, more specific associate degrees like an Associate of Business Administration (ABA) and Associate of Technology (AT). Your specific career aspirations will determine what type of associate degree is best for you.
Your intended professional path will also influence whether you pursue an associate as a terminal degree, or as a stepping stone towards a bachelor’s degree. An associate degree is the entry-level education requirement for a number of occupations in healthcare, office and administrative support, trades, and technology.
Associate degrees are typically offered by two-year community colleges, but if you are interested in earning an associate as a precursor to a bachelor’s degree, you may want to consider attending a four-year college or university, where you can easily transition to a bachelor’s program. Another consideration is earning your associate at a community college that has articulation agreements with four-year colleges and universities. This will facilitate a smooth transfer process, and ensure that you will be able to apply the maximum number of credits to your bachelor’s degree.
Here are some questions to ask when researching associate degree programs:
- What type of accreditation does this institution have? This is particularly important for students who intend to transfer to a four-year college to earn a bachelor’s degree after completing their associate. Generally, more colleges recognize credits from regionally accredited schools than nationally accredited schools. When researching schools for your associate, be sure to confirm the transferability of credits if you plan on following this track.
- Does the school offer an accelerated associate-to-bachelor’s degree track? Many schools that grant both associate and bachelor’s degrees offer accelerated programs that allow students to begin earning credits towards their bachelor’s while working on their associate. Enrolling in this type of accelerated program can help students save time and money by completing their bachelor’s in a shorter time frame.
During your research process, be sure to note the application requirements and deadlines for the programs in which you are interested. Associate degree programs typically have minimal application requirements, but it’s best to confirm the process with an admissions representative if you have questions.
This is also a good time to consider how you will pay for your associate degree. Research your financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, loans, work-study, and employer tuition assistance benefits.