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AA vs. AS Degree: Similarities and Differences

What is the difference between an AA vs. AS degree program? Learn about the similarities and differences between Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees to determine which option is best for you.

A graphic that says Associate of Arts vs. Associate of Science for the blog comparing AA vs. AS degree programs

One of the biggest decisions you have to make when it comes to earning your college degree is which type of degree to get. Two options to consider are an Associate of Arts (AA) and Associate of Science (AS).

These two associate degree classifications have some basic similarities but also have a few major differences. Let’s begin by looking at how an AA and AS degree program are similar.

Associate of Arts vs. Associate of Science: The Similarities

The most obvious similarity between an Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degree is that they are both associate-level degrees. This means that each program takes about two years from start to finish.

Some people prefer an associate degree over a bachelor’s degree because the latter is typically a four-year program, so it takes twice as long to complete. It also costs less to pursue your associate degree, which is helpful if you have a limited education budget.

Others use an associate program as a stepping stone, earning this designation before entering a bachelor’s degree program. The associate degree provides a solid foundation for these future studies.

AA vs. AS Degree: The Differences

Of course, there is a reason behind these two associate-level programs having different names and that is because, though they have similarities, they also have differences. The most basic difference between an Associate of Arts vs Associate of Science degree is that each one prepares you for a career in a different type of field.

If you want a career in the humanities, for instance—which covers holding a role within the arts, psychology, philosophy, history, and marketing—then you will likely want to earn an Associate of Arts. This two-year degree program includes classes in all of these types of subjects, preparing you for positions in sales, teaching, advertising, and more.

An Associate of Science degree, on the other hand, is more focused on math and science. That makes this degree designation good for people who want to work in job roles that rely heavily on these two areas of knowledge. Engineering, computer science, and even many healthcare jobs fall into this category.

Which Is Best for You: Associate of Arts vs. Associate of Science?

Deciding what type of career you want post-college will largely determine whether you pursue an AA vs AS degree. If you’re drawn to psychology or philosophy, for example, an Associate of Arts degree includes classes in these fields, whereas if you want to spend your career in an engineering role, an Associate of Science will supply the education needed to succeed in this position.

Another consideration is the college you want to attend. Each institution of higher learning offers different associate programs based on the areas of study they specialize within. So, if you have your heart set on a specific college or university, the associate-level program you choose may change based on what they offer.

It’s also important to look a bit into the future as this will give you a better idea of whether an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science makes the most sense for you. Look at the job roles you want to hold in your career and see if they require a degree in the arts or science. Check out people who work in the field and notice whether they tend to have one designation over the other.

Several Associate Degree Options at Saint Leo University

If you’ve decided that an Associate of Arts is the right degree for you, Saint Leo University offers a variety of options. A quick look at our available programs page shows that these options include:

One thing to keep in mind is that it’s important to explore the details of a particular degree program to determine if it’s right for you. Seeing AA vs. AS can be a very generic guide to the type of discipline you are interested in, but you should always do your research on the full scope of a degree program and the curriculum it entails.

If you are still unsure if an AA vs AS degree is best for you, or if you know which path you want to follow but don’t quite know which degree program will get you into your desired career, contact Saint Leo University’s admissions team. Our friendly and professional staff can help you better understand your options as they relate to your specific career goals.

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