There are millions of mysteries out there, like why palm trees are not really trees (they’re a grass) and why the chemical name for the protein Titin is so long (189,819 letters). Another mystery is the value of an associate degree (two-year degree) for those looking into college options.
It’s popular to say that a four-year bachelor’s degree is the typical college degree, but that may be changing. The Center on Education and the Workforce reports 28.1% of those with an associate degree earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree.
To start unraveling the mystery, investigate what types of associate degrees are out there. One of these is the Associate of Arts degree, which covers a specific issue or topic very broadly. One associate degree that’s particularly popular for students and employers over the past decade is called the Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree, which has some exciting differences.
Although the A.A.S. and A.A. degrees are two-year degrees, the fast track to a career is the Associate of Applied Science degree. The use of the word applied is extremely important. An applied science degree program tells students the degree’s goal is how to take the knowledge and skills being taught in the classroom, labs, or other learning experiences and apply them in the workplace.
Yes, there are prerequisite and required classes that teach about underlying issues and topics, but students undertaking the A.A.S. degree spend much of their time in school “learning by doing.” In addition, experiential learning time often happens in simulated workplace environments on campus and through other hands-on experiences and activities.
The Right Associate Degree is a Personal Decision
Here’s a simple chart to understanding associate degrees:
|DEGREE NAME||ABBREVIATION||DESCRIPTION||TIME TO GRADUATION|
|Associate of Arts||A.A.||Associate of Arts (A.A.) is typically set up for completing foundational coursework necessary for a four-year (bachelor’s degree) or transferring to another college or university.||As few as 2 years.|
|Associate of Applied |
|A.A.S.||Associate of Applied Science degree (A.A.S.) is a two-year degree that meets requirements for specific skill sets in the workplace. It also helps ensures eligibility for various industry certification or registration required by those employers.||As few as 2 years.|
Typically, an associate of arts degree is a starting point to a higher degree or certification, making it difficult to project a yearly wage.
In examining the A.A.S. degree, however, the wage-earning potential is much clearer. In fact, by comparing some jobs requiring an A.A.S. degree to others requiring a four-year bachelor’s degree, that decision to earn an associate degree can mean a faster way to a satisfying career.
For example, take this comparison of types of college degrees, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
Occupational therapy assistants and radiologic technologists (radiographers) are ranked in the top 15 of “Best Health Care Support Jobs” in the annual U.S. News & World Report jobs survey.
Reviewing the Advantages of a 2-year Associate Degree
A two-year associate degree is worth exploring when job duties for an occupation match up with career goals.
A recap of the associate degree advantages:
Located in Overland Park, Kansas, Cleveland University-Kansas City (CUKC) is a nonprofit, private, healthcare-focused university celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2022.
Our College of Health Sciences offers various healthcare-centered degrees, including options for those desiring a two-year degree program. Offerings include
Bachelor of Science/Master of Science degrees
College of Chiropractic degrees
For more details from an admissions advisor, request information here. You can also get an overview of financial aid options by downloading this free eBook: Your Guide to Navigating College Financial Aid.