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Education

What Is An AA

By Kenneth Tester 8 minute read

Consider the pros and cons of acquiring an AA or AS degree as well. What works best for your educational and career goals doesn’t always mean that one is better than the other. 

Both an AA and an AS prepare students for a bachelor’s degree, although the specific career chances are different depending on the selected major.

An associate’s degree in the arts, psychology, philosophy, marketing, or accountancy is more common among students who want to pursue these fields.

Those who are interested in the sciences, math, healthcare, and computer science might check out the associate of science degrees.

Schools often use the phrases interchangeably, thus these claims are only generalizations. Depending on the institution, a piece of art may be categorized as a science.

The Associate of Arts in Business Administration from West Virginia University (WVU) Online is made up of 20 courses, or 60 credit hours. WVU Online. Macroeconomics and global studies are also part of the curriculum.

It is possible to get an online Associate of Science in Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) in two years with 60 credits of study.

The courses include English, mathematics, macroeconomics, accounting (financial and managerial), business law, communication, management, and business management.

The classes at WVU and SNHU are nearly identical, with the exception of a higher focus on management skills at SNHU. However, you wouldn’t classify that as a distinction between art and a scientific associate degree.

Because of this, despite the facts to the contrary, some of which we will address below, the two degrees are probably interchangeable.

As a result, the number of associate degree recipients has remained stable over the previous decade, with more than 1.2 million in the 2011-12 academic year. 

In the current academic year of 2021-22, the number is 983,000, according to Statista. In the first year, almost 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees were awarded, and that figure is expected to rise to around 2 million by 2021-22.

What are the Earnings Prospects for an Associate’s Degree?

Forest and veterinary technicians, preschool teachers, and dietetic counselors were among the professions with the lowest median annual wages, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS 2020) estimates. 

Dentists, medical sonographers, nuclear medicine technologists, avionics techs, occupational therapists, and engineering technicians are among the fifteen vocations that pay between $60,00 and $79,999 annually. Some of these are increasing at a quicker rate than normal.

Graduates with a master’s degree earned an average of $1,350 a week. According to the BLS, those with a bachelor’s degree earned an average weekly wage of $1,150 or $59,800 a year, while those with an associate degree earned an average weekly wage of $850. (2020).

For people with an associate’s degree in computer user assistance, there are several high-paying positions available. The BLS reports that web developers and digital designers make an average annual pay of $77,200, but many of these positions need a four-year degree.

Is it worth the additional time and money to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree? According to the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, 42 percent of students who attend four-year public colleges and universities graduate with no student loan debt at all. 

Between $30,000 and $49,999, 15% of the population has debt. Over time, a bachelor’s degree may outperform an associate’s degree by $25,000 in yearly salary. Even if it’s not attainable, an advanced degree may mean an extra $1 million in salary over the course of a career.

We recommend you to read DegreeQuery’s study on the Highest Paying Associates Degree, which details the best-paying employment. In the following, we’ll take a look at the specifics of achieving an AA or AS.

What is the Associate of Arts degree?

Getting an associate’s degree can be a fast and cost-effective route to a higher-paying job. It’s possible that an associate’s degree is a suitable fit for you if four years of school seem overwhelming.

Students can get an associate’s degree in four semesters if they complete 15 credits per semester and meet the general requirements and core courses.

Transferable credits are more likely if you attend a junior college or community college that has been accredited at the national or regional level.

The number of credits you can use toward a bachelor’s degree depends on your selected major and how well it is reviewed by the university’s admissions committee. The institution analyzes each request for waivers to the accrediting criteria on an individual basis.

It is one of the key advantages of an associate’s degree because it saves both time and money. Compared to a bachelor’s, this degree is completed in half the time and at a significantly lower cost.

As reported by the College Board, the typical two-year public in-district program will cost $3,770 in the 2020-21 school year.

In comparison, the average four-year tuition at a public in-state university is $10,550, while the cost at an out-of-state university is over three times higher at $27,020.

Room and board, books, fees, health insurance, and other personal expenditures are not included in these figures. The majority of students likely attend a local community college, allowing them to save a significant amount of money.

To further minimize or eliminate the expenses and time associated with traveling, many associate degrees are offered online.

Bachelor of Arts Degree

It’s possible to focus on numerous subjects at this level, including:

  • Accounting
  • Criminal Justice
  • Education
  • Healthcare or Health Services Administration
  • Public Administration
  • Paralegal Studies
  • Communication
  • Music
  • History
  • Business

It’s a good starting point for anyone who wants to pursue a bachelor’s degree in one of these areas. It’s also a cheap method to test if the major you choose is what you expected.

After high school, some people may not know what they want to do for a living, which is another reason to start with an associate’s degree in the arts or sciences.

It is necessary to take General Education courses before transferring to a program that offers the specialized training you need.

Florida National University’s (FNU) 60-credit Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice program, for instance, comprises nine credits in communications (English Composition and Oral Communication-9), humanities (six), social science (six), natural science (seven), mathematics (7), and computers (7). (4).

Once the 39 credits are completed, students are able to enroll in electives (9 credits) and core (12 credits) courses, both of which are focused on criminal justice.

Criminal Justice students at Franklin National University can transfer up to 60 credits from general education and/or electives into their degree program.

Students considering FNU’s remote learning program may want to consider the transferrable credits as an added perk. As long as a criminal justice concentration is offered, the distinctions between an AA and AS are moot.

While Florida National University offers an AA degree in the subject, California Coast University in Santa Ana offers an online AS degree with a comparable course of study, as previously mentioned. 

Four electives in diverse areas, including Human Resource Management and Project Management as well as Medical Law as well as Abnormal Psychology, are included in the ten general education courses.

Those courses are followed by four optional courses in a wide range of subjects. Only six courses are required to earn an associate’s degree in criminal justice at a community college. 

Colleges offering an AA include:

  • University of Cincinnati
  • Strayer University
  • Purdue University Global
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Keiser University

From applied engineering to video game creation, Keiser boasts more than 40 associate’s degrees in arts or science. There are too many to mention.

All six hours of Natural Science are biology-based, which is unusual for a Homeland Security and Health Administration AA degree program. 

The AS in Culinary Arts, on the other hand, includes six credits in Natural Science, which are divided between biology and chemistry. For the most part, it looks like a question of personal preference rather than an issue of superiority.

Associate Degree in Science

When pursuing an associate of science degree in a technology-related profession, students may have additional employment opportunities available to them after graduation. 

Accreditation by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) is required for radiology technicians, for example (ARRT).

In the United States, RadiologyEd maintains a comprehensive list of AART-certified programs. A degree in this discipline can be obtained at a community college.

In radiography, remote learning isn’t an option due to the amount of hands-on experience that’s required.

According to the BLS, an associate degree earns a median pay of $63,710 for radiology and MRI technologists, or $30.60 an hour (2020).

By 2030, the labor market is expected to change by 9.1% or 21,600 positions. A typical annual salary of $95,010 may be expected in California, which employs 16,670 people. There are 620 technicians in Hawaii, however, the expense of living would make up for the higher compensation.

Respiratory therapists work in clinics, hospitals, and emergency rooms, according to the DegreeQuery study referenced above.

Currently, they have a median salary of $62,810, with a predicted rise of 23% or 31,100 jobs through 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There will be more job opportunities for respiratory therapists (135,000) than for radiology technicians (254,000), despite the fact that nearly half of those employed are in the latter field.

Associate in Applied Science (AAS) is another phrase you’ll come across in the healthcare industry, especially when it comes to technology.

Cardiovascular sonography, commonly known as Echocardiography, is taught as an AAS degree at Concorde Career Colleges. Cardiovascular sonographers use a variety of ultrasound devices to take pictures of the heart’s chamber and blood arteries.

The math and science subjects are the primary emphasis of an AS degree. Those with an associate’s degree in science can work in a variety of healthcare positions. 

Here are a few of them:

  • Medical assistant
  • Dental hygienist
  • Caregiver
  • Administrative assistant in a physician’s office
  • Social worker
  • Computer programmer
  • Finance
  • Air traffic controller
  • Physical Therapist Assistant

A lot of people get an associate’s in science degree at a local community college, although these colleges also offer it:

  • South University
  • Penn Foster
  • Wilmington University
  • Colorado Technical University

An AA vs. AS Quick Comparison:

Associate of ArtsAssociate of Science
Available OnlineYesYes
FocusHumanitiesScience and Math
DegreesPsychology, Communication, Graphic Design, And Criminal JusticeHealth Information Technology And Construction Project Management
Typical CareersPreschool Teacher, Paralegal, Occupational, Therapy Assistant, And Dental HygienistWeb Developer, Registered Nurse, And Mechanical Engineer Technician 

What is the difference between the AA and the AS?

For those who want to pursue a career in a field like radiology, an associate’s degree in science can open doors to more specialized positions than an associate’s degree in liberal arts could.

Instead, an Associate of Applied Science (AAAS) degree can lead to employment in a variety of professions, including counseling or psychology.

An associate’s degree in psychology at a community college, for example, provides a solid foundation in the liberal arts by studying English, communications, the fine arts, behavioral sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics.

Students also learn about ideas related to personality, cognition, and cognitive therapy. In most cases, transferring AA credits to a bachelor’s degree will lead to an increase in employment and income.

As a result, a single degree isn’t better than another because, for example, criminal justice is available as an AA degree and as an AS degree at different institutions.

Whether one is better than the other depends on a person’s professional goals and financial situation. Salary and job outlook comparisons like those in the aforementioned report are well worth digging into.

Ideally, you want a career that you like and that pays well enough to cover all of your expenses. Furthermore, an AA or AS degree does not bind you to a certain employment path; you may always go back to school online to explore alternative options.

If you just graduated from high school and aren’t sure what path to take next, gaining an associate’s degree can be a suitable option.

If you’re skilled at math and science, you may want to consider becoming an associate of science. An associate of arts degree is the greatest option if you want to get a taste of what you could study in the future.

Kenneth Tester

Author